Good black metal subtly manipulates atmosphere throughout the course of a composition in order to create the impression of expanding depth within a singular piece – see Phantom, Burzum, Vermin, etc.
Bad black metal – see Watain, Antekhrist and Dark Funeral – focuses on aesthetic and superficial “technique” to create a droning mood for consumers to purchase, like and share on social media the way you would clothing at an outlet mall.
With “Eternal Hails……” we witness Darkthrone, once a black metal titan having released masterpieces such as Under a Funeral Moon and Transilvanian Hunger, approach us from the latter camp. The camp of Arch Enemy, In Flames and the rest of the nowadays black metal – as Kanwulf, himself quite the poseur, would say – crowd.
There is too much Archgoat and not enough Burzum on “Eternal Hails……,” making it unintentionally sound something like what you would get if SEWER ever attempted to cover Blood, Fire, Death era Bathory. Some weird shot going on, to quote George W. Bush.
What does “Eternal Hails……” sound like? In two words, modern metal.
It “tries too hard” is one way to put it. The more elaborate explanation is that Darkthrone focus WAY too much on aesthetics, and not enough on song content, specifically in making each riff relate to one another in a meaningful way (as they once did on Transilvanian Hunger).
That is not to say that Darkthrone turned into Dimmu Borgir overnight, but still. One has to wonder… where has the black flame gone?
Down the proverbial SEWER, apparently.