Darkthrone
A Blaze in the Northern Sky


5.0
classic

Review

by K. McNichols USER (16 Reviews)
May 4th, 2007 | 32 replies


Release Date: 1992 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Innovative and groundbreaking, A Blaze In the Northern Sky will forever be acclaimed as the pinnacle of black metal.

We Are.... A Blaze.... In the Northern.... Sky.....

These are the first harsh rasps that escape the lungs of Nocturno Culto. A Blaze In the Northern Sky is the seminal 2nd effort of the patriarchal black metal band Darkthrone. Most fans of Darkthrone are aware that A Blaze In the Northern Sky was the band’s turnaround from its Death Metal roots (i.e. Soulside Journey) and a transition into the Black Metal genre. Although the band itself may or may not have been aware of it, A Blaze In the Northern Sky would practically define the sound of the second wave of black metal along with of course, their Norwegian peers Burzum, Immortal, and Mayhem.

To undefiled ears, the (mere) six tracks and their accompanying seemingly random noisy guitar riffs and vocals may appear substandard and/or maybe even offensive. Typical of black metal, the guitars create a dark, grim, melancholy environment using distorted tremolo picked fast riffs while the drums pound away unrelentingly. The album is for the most part just as raw as its cover artwork; yet it is not near as plain. Most people will undoubtedly be turned off by the production, which can best be described as a thick wall of almost tangible fuzz. However, the listener that allows time for this album to sink in will be rewarded.

Kathaarian Life Code opens with all the aforementioned traits, and the apocalyptic growling/chanting sequence done by Fenriz is quite a treat. As I mentioned above, the band shed its death metal skin (after only one album) for a raw black metal edge, which usually means no solos. This song is a highlight due to the unexpected solo, as most black metal is free of technical guitarwork. These solos add to the whole, and it works rather well. (Bathory is a good example of this as well). The fact that Darkthrone was able to do this separates the band from a lot of other black metal bands of the time; however if you listen to their later albums such as Transilvanian Hunger or Panzerfaust you will notice that guitar leads have been completely exiled.

Most people’s introduction to Darkthrone is Transilvanian Hunger. This statement is true for myself, although I can’t fathom why anyone would prefer Transilvanian Hunger to A Blaze In The Northern Sky after a thorough spin of each. Although Transilvanian Hunger is unquestionably a great album, the aggression, raw power, originality, and overall black metal-esque misanthropic rage is captured in one irreplaceable snapshot on this masterpiece. Let‘s not forget, could any other band have worked in an acoustic guitar part on an album of this intensity? (Immortal's Diabolical Fullmoon Mysticism and Bathory's Blood Fire Death also contain some acoustic parts) Darkthrone is able to pull off this feat on the album’s second track, In the Shadow of the Horns.

Black Metal fans know ambience comes first, and people who have listened to this album also know that it is the embodiment of the perfect listening soundscape, rivaled only perhaps by Burzum’s Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. A major high point is the vocal work. Spearheading the sonic assault is Nocturno Culto. His vocals are distinctly clear, not distant as per some black metal vocals. For those of you who are unaware, the bass is completely obsolete on this offering, making it one of the first black metal albums to attain the thin quality it is known for. One thing that furthers my opinion of the album is the lack of repetition. Darkthrone’s later albums seem to become progressively repetitive, however A Blaze In The Northern Sky is free of that flaw. [If this album is your introduction to black metal, you may disagree with that last statement.]

Overall:
Black Metal doesn’t get much better than this. If there is anything I don’t like about the album it would be that the lyrics are hard to decipher, but this is an impressive offering nonetheless. If you are a fan of black metal, I recommend Transilvanian Hunger or Mayhem’s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas along with this. If you weren’t fond of it, f*ck you.
On a serious note, if you are interested in listening to black metal but need a solid start, get your hands on some Bathory, Venom or maybe even Mercyful Fate. It may spark the desire to listen to some darker, more ambient material such as this. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better black metal album.

Recommended Tracks:
Kathaarian Life Code
Paragon Belial

We Are.... A Blaze.... In the Northern.... Sky.....



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user ratings (837)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
May 5th 2007


7926 Comments


As Freezing Moon’s review mentioned, most people’s introduction to the band is Transilvanian Hunger.

I personally would avoid referencing other reviews in this way.

I can’t fathom why anyone would think Transilvanian Hunger is better than ABITNS.

The title track off TH.



Slaytan
May 5th 2007


1186 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Good job, even though I disagree with the rating a bit.

rattlehead42147
May 5th 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@ cocaine
good point, no disrespect to his review, i thought he made a good observation
@slaytan
thanx, it deserves at least a 4.5, and it really is a classic, it has influenced countless others

kalkal50
May 5th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yay finally a good review on this album tbh.

Thor
May 5th 2007


10192 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

TH is definitely my favorite album of Darkthrone's. This album is still awesome, though. It's a close second.

rattlehead42147
May 5th 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@kalkal
i didn't think the other reviews were bad, they just didn't do as well of a job as I thought they could have...thanks that means a lot coming from you, i read your burzum reviews and they're very good.
@thor
i like TH a lot, but this one takes first for me

kalkal50
May 5th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks rattle bro,

You know I love your reviews. The production on this album sounds almost like Burzum's, but I dunno, i haven't really had that much time to sink into it yet, for now it just sounds really bad. I'll have to give it a try again tonight before I fall asleep, maybe then I'll notice some discreet melodic twists which will change my mind. ;)

rattlehead42147
May 5th 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you know whats a good one to fall asleep to speaking of burzum... Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, that is actually its pupose as Varg says. it is very calming once you reach Tomhet, the final synth track. As far as ABITNS goes, i keep falling asleep by the second track, i had to listen to it in school

kalkal50
May 6th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yes Burzum is good in general, such as the transcendence track off of Filosofem I think it was, which lets you go outside the box. When it comes to ABITNS, i still have work to do, but I'm continuously playing the first song just to get me started. Will move on through the album soon once I get the vibe .

Eakflanderyof
May 6th 2007


2143 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review for a good album.

kalkal50
May 6th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I think I might up my rating, boink there you go.

rattlehead42147
May 6th 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you should, i'd say it deserves a 4 at least, it got a 4.5 out of me, plus its (classicness) got it a 5This Message Edited On 05.06.07

Duckhysteria
May 6th 2007


40 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah, this review is much better.

kalkal50
May 6th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ye I'll eventually bump it up to a 4-5. All in good time my friend...

kalkal50
May 14th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Safe to say that never happened, and now that you changed your rating to 4.5 there is some stuff in the review you might want to change as well to accommodate your rating

rattlehead42147
May 14th 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

alright, i fucked up big time but i've had time to think about this one but i gotta go back to fiveThis Message Edited On 05.27.07

kalkal50
August 5th 2007


2386 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

wow this is really great actually, how come you only mentioned 2 tracks in your review, the second track is soo killer as well, so is the title track

rattlehead42147
August 5th 2007


1345 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

three when you count the recommended tracks and in the shadow of the horns, however i couldnt find much to say about the others yeah they're great but i think the overall review covers it pretty much but yeah i was trying to mention all the tracks but i just couldnt. however i thought starting and ending the review the same way would be cool since thats how the album is.
In a a way i felt that was a figurative nod to "the pagan winter."This Message Edited On 08.05.07

Cravinov13
August 5th 2007


3854 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

All the songs on here own. The only solid Darkthrone release.

LifeInABox
August 5th 2007


3708 Comments


Psssh, TH ftw, Crav.



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