DARKTHRONE — Soulside Journey

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DARKTHRONE - Soulside Journey cover
3.20 | 26 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1991

Filed under Death Metal


1. Cromlech (4:11)
2. Sunrise Over Locus Mortis (3:30)
3. Soulside Journey (4:36)
4. Accumulation of Generalization (3:17)
5. Neptune Towers (3:14)
6. Sempiternal Sepulchrality (3:32)
7. Grave With a View (3:27)
8. Iconoclasm Sweeps Cappadocia (4:00)
9. Nor the Silent Whispers (3:17)
10. The Watchtower (4:57)
11. Eon (3:39)

Total Time: 41:44


- Ted Skjellum (Nocturno Culto) / Vocals, Lead Guitar
- Ivar Enger (Zephyrous) / Rhythm Guitar
- Dag Nilsen / Bass
- Hank Amarillo (Fenriz) / Drums

About this release

Originally released by Peaceville Records
January 13th, 1991

Produced by Tomas Skogsberg and Darkthrone
Guitars co-produced by Uffe

Cover art by Duncan Fegredo
Photos by Dark Throne/Nagell
Logo by Tompa / Gylve / Tassilo
Design by Gylve Nagell

Thanks to Vehemency, UMUR, Wilytank for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Soulside Journey shows the black metal pioneers Darkthrone in a different light than many casual listeners are familiar with. Before they went on to embrace lo-fi productions, fast tremolo picking, and corpse paint, the band actually sported a death metal sound that was heavily influenced by the Swedish scene at the time. Soulside Journey is an old school death metal album through and through, and any resemblance to Darkthrone's later works is nonexistent - the sound here contains the fat riffs, brutal production, and creepy atmospheres of many Scandinavian death metal bands at the time, but Darkthrone put their own spin on the genre to set them apart from the rest. While fans of the band's later output may have a tough time enjoying Soulside Journey, I think this is an absolutely stunning debut and one of the best death metal releases from the golden year of 1991.

The style of death metal that Darkthrone embraces on Soulside Journey is clearly Scandinavian, but it also doesn't sound like any other single band - the mildly technical, often cold and even occasionally progressive death metal here is distinctly Darkthrone's own, and I can only imagine what would've happened if the band decided to pursue this style on future releases. The band manages to achieve a cold and brutal sound with high levels of success, and the occasional keyboard flourishes help further accentuate the strange atmosphere of the album. Every song on Soulside Journey is also well-composed and memorable; each track contains plenty of killer riffs, and Darkthrone seems to have a very knowledgeable grasp on when to switch riffs and move on to the next section.

While later Darkthrone albums pride themselves on rather sloppy musicianship and lo-fi productions, neither of those are even remotely the case on Soulside Journey. I'm actually stunned by how accomplished the musicianship is here - just listen to Fenriz's killer drumming! The unit is as tight as can be, and Darkthrone consistently dishes out technical licks with an impressive amount of finesse. The fat and brutal production does have a rather raw sensibility, but every instrument is still clearly audible and powerful - this is exactly how all death metal albums should sound!

All in all, Soulside Journey is a pretty great debut from Darkthrone, and I can only imagine what would've happened if the band continued to go down the path established by this album. I'm assuming they still would've ended up being quite successful considering how excellent Soulside Journey is, but it looks like we'll never know. As it currently stands, Soulside Journey is an essential purchase for anyone interested in Scandinavian death metal, and I'd say 4 stars are very well-deserved in this case.
Darkthrone's debut album is their sole album as a death metal band, though the preceding demo releases were also in this style, and the subsequent Goatlord demo caught them in the middle of metamorphosing from a death metal group to a lynchpin of the Norwegian black metal movement. The sound they achieve here is intriguing - for the most part, it's pretty standard death metal with some technical flourishes, but they succeed brilliantly at achieving a strange, cold atmosphere - one perfectly captured by the techno-esoteric cover art.

Soulside Journey is strong evidence that had they remained a death metal group, Darkthrone would still be well-respectived figures within the extreme metal scene - but personally, I'm glad that they've shown this willingness over their career to evolve their sound and shift genres as the mood takes them.
Soulside Journey is the debut full-length studio album by Norwegian death metal ( later black metal) act Darkthrone. The album was released in January 1991 by Peaceville Records. Soulside Journey is the only death metal album released by Darkthrone as the band would abandon the death metal style in favour of black metal after the release of this album. There are still traces of death metal on A Blaze in the Northern Sky (1992) ( the 2nd album by Darkthrone) but I wouldn´t call the music on that album death metal. I used to own Soulside Journey on vinyl, but I gave it away to a good friend who is a Darkthrone fanatic, because I felt it would bring more joy to him than it did to me at the time. I was so disappointed with Darkthrone by the end of the nineties, that I simply gave up on them. In retrospect I really miss my vinyl version, but I´ve purchased Soulside Journey again in the 2003 remastered CD digipack version and that´s a small comfort.

It doesn´t say on the cover of the album but since Soulside Journey was produced by Tomas Skogsberg I assume that the album was recorded in the legendary Sunlight Studio in Stockholm, Sweden. The production points that way and while the music on Soulside Journey isn´t exactly old school Swedish death metal, it´s that death metal style the album has most similarities to. The obscure and somber mood of Mental Funeral (1991)-era Autopsy also comes to mind. Darkthrone had a cold mystique to them that was unique at the time though and the occult lyrics by Fenriz ( who called himself Hank Amarillo on the original print of the album) also had an edge to them. I´m thinking H.P. Lovecraft at times. The vocals are brutal and the songs are raw but there are several twists and turns to keep them interesting throughout and distinguisable from each other.

The musicianship needs a special mention here. Simply because it´s on such a high level that Soulside Journey sounds so vastly different from the simple and at times loose and sloppy playing of later Darkthrone releases. Fans of later Darkthrone releases, who have not previously listened to Soulside Journey, will probably listen in bewilderment while Fenriz whips up a storm of ( for the time) quite technical drumming. There´s an authentic organic touch to the playing though, so it´s not like the drums are triggered to hell or recorded with the use of click-track or something like that. The rest of the band are also very well playing.

The production is one of the best sounds created by Tomas Skogsberg in the first years of the nineties. It really stands out as something special to my ears. Raw and brutal but quite detailed.

Soulside Journey is IMO one of the most important Scandinavian death metal releases from the early nineties and personally I was struck with horror at the direction Darkthrone took their music after this album, but I guess in retrospect that decision payed off. I still dream of what would have happened on a second album if the band have opted to continue to play death metal though, but of course it´s a waste of time and I guess I have to accept that it´s actually Soulside Journey that´s the odd album in Darkthrone´s discography and not the rest of their output ( LOL). A 4 star rating is well deserved.

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