Darkthrone – Arctic Thunder

Once upon a funeral moon, Darkthrone was a band cloaked in mystery and steeped in intrigue. They rarely gave interviews except for a select few underground fanzines, were never seen photographed aside from album layouts, and never played live. They were the personification of “kvlt”; a band feared and revered for their complete abandonment of the self-described “silly, trendy death metal” style and full embrace of the aesthetics and sound of minimalist black metal. Taking cues from Burzum and pioneers like Celtic Frost, Venom, and Bathory, they endeavored to set the underground ablaze with the most raw and primitive black metal to possibly be generated by a shoddy basement recording. The results are well documented history.

From Deicide to Self-Destruction: How a Death Metal Pioneer Fell Behind the Pack

Way back in 2012, Paul Mazurkiewicz (drummer for Cannibal Corpse) sat down with Billboard (via Metal Injection) and was posed an interesting question: who are death metal's Big 4? Now, boiling any genre down to a definitive group of four is realistically impossible - as important as the Big 4 of thrash are to the genre, bands like Sepultura, Overkill, Kreator and Destruction deserve just as significant a portion of credit. So too was the case with Mazurkiewicz's naming of Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Deicide and Suffocation as the Big 4 of death metal, which leaves out a whole slew of bands seminal to the genre's evolution (Death, Bolt Thrower, Obituary, Autopsy, Carcass and innumerable others). Yet, in terms of balancing popularity, influence and an active status, it's hard to argue with Mazurkiewicz's picks; all four bands are nothing short of genre pioneers who played pivotal roles in defining death metal from its post-thrash transitional stage. However, when we fast forward to the genre's current landscape, it's clear time hasn't been as kind to the infamous blasphemers from the Sunshine State as it has for the rest of DM's Big 4. Despite being near the top of the pack in terms of influence and album sales, Deicide has experienced a noticeable fall from grace from their prime in the early-nineties. But the question is - why? What caused these luminaries to become lost?