Originally called Black Death, the band formed in 1986 releasing two demos ("Trash Core '87" and "Black Is Beautiful" in 1987). The band renamed themselves Darkthrone, a name inspired by the title of the Danish zine '"Blackthorn" (1985/86) and also the lyrics of the Celtic Frost song "Jewel Throne".
Darkthrone proceeded to record four demos between 1988 and 1989 named "Land Of Frost", "A New Dimension", "Thulcandra" and "Cromlech" before creating a full-length album in 1991 titled "Soulside Journey", influenced by bands such as Nocturnus (demo era), Autopsy and Morbid Angel (Ted also cites Death's "Scream Bloody Gore" album as the primary inspiration for his solos).
Following this album, the band recorded rehearsal material which would later be released in 1997 as the full-length album "Goatlord" with the addition of vocals recorded in 1994.
Their second album to be released "A Blaze In The Northern Sky" (recorded August 1991, released 1992) exhibited the band's departure from death metal and embrace of the black metal style being pioneered at the time by their Norwegian peers Mayhem, this becoming further apparent with their following releases: "Under A Funeral Moon" (recorded summer 1992, released early 1993) and "Transilvanian Hunger" (released in 1994).
After moving to the Norwegian label Moonfog Productions, the band then released their fifth album "Panzerfaust" in 1995. The instrumental performances were all handled by Fenriz on this record (likewise for "Transylvanian Hunger"), the riffs particularly demonstrated their strong Celtic Frost influence (greatly apparent on songs such as "Triumphant Gleam" and "The Hordes Of Nebulah").
Their next releases with Moonfog included "Total Death" (1996), "Ravishing Grimness" (1999), "Plaguewielder" (2001), "Hate Them" (2003) and "Sardonic Wrath" (2004).
With "Sardonic Wrath" as their last released on Moonfog, the band then moved to their own label Tyrant Syndicate Productions (a sub-label of Peaceville).
Their first release under Tyrant Syndicate was the record "The Cult Is Alive" (2006) named after a lyric from the song "Sphinx" by the German black metal band Poison: "I feel the cult is alive...".
In July 2007 Darkthrone released their second EP, "NWOBHM" (New Wave Of Black Heavy Metal)", as a preview of the material to appear on the next record released September the same year: "F.O.A.D (Fuck Off And Die)", an album which continued to draw inspiration from punk and crust yet also included more classic heavy metal influences.
"Darkthrones And Blackflags" was released in 2008, a continuation of the metal/punk crossover style featured on "F.O.A.D.", while their next record, "Circle The Wagons" (2010), contains even more heavy metal/speed metal influence; notably inspirations were bands such as Agent Steel, Nuclear Assault and Manilla Road.
In 2013 the band released the album "The Underground Resistance", which continues to draw influences from 1980's heavy metal and proto-thrash. This style was continued in subsequent recordings of a duo.
The band are renowned for recording in their own studio/rehearsal space in Norway and their refusal to work as a touring band.