Review Summary: My life story, and then a bit about this awesome album. Early 90's introduced many albums which now comprise the pinnacle of Black Metal, in all its glory. A Blaze In The Northern Sky is one of them.
It may seem strange now that I praise a black metal classic such as Darkthrone's
'A Blaze In the Northern Sky', when only a few weeks ago I despised everything about them, not to mention I was into Hilary Duff about 2 years back. But now, times have changed, and even I myself am surprised at how my standards are drastically changing, seeing as I no longer listen to a more mainstream songs, but a bunch of scary men with corpse paint with more r-rated material in their music; that, my friends, is a total dumbing down of sophistication (oh no it's OK, I still have Blackwater Park). Within it's own realm it wouldn't be an understatement to say that this album is a classic, but outside the genre it's a puzzler, of epic proportions. I still kick myself. However, this time it's not because I'm confused about the album, but because it only just dawned on my how damn good this album was. I blame my pop/soul roots.
I was mislead into the whole dungeons and dragons prospect by more contemporary bands such as Dimmu Borgir (although what they do is just ridiculous nowadays) when I learned that it didn't have to be that difficult and forced. Traditional black metal bands such as Burzum and Mayhem got me into the whole blistering evil in it's purest form. Even a big wall of fuzz, which had separated my conscience from my confusion, couldn't hold me back this time. There wasn't to be any criteria. This is true black metal, and once the opening notes cascade in, you just feel it.
Black metal at it's prime is only the headline, when 'A Blaze In The Northern Sky' is really the quintessence of hatred, evil and coolness, and so much more. 1987 brought the beginning of the bands career, followed by their first release 'Soulside Journey' which was labeled a death metal album. Subsequently, the band decided to drop their death metal vocals and adopt a more pure black metal style with cookie-monster vocals. This 1992 effort in particular is really the first of the three albums known as the peak of Darkthrone
's career as musicians, moreover, it is probably the greatest. 'Under A Funeral Moon' and 'Transilvanian Hunger' shortly ensued and a more distilled Black Metal was showcased on these two albums contrary to what Darkthrone
had done earlier. 'A Blaze in the Northern Sky' is namely the forking of two metal styles, which makes it more straight forward and vulgar than its successors.
The first thing that comes to mind when listening to the album is the invasive fuzz due to the guitar distortion and raw production. Truth be told, this album wouldn't be what it is without it's typically raw production, as such a feature almost indicates that this album should be appreciated as a black metal album. This mindset instantly singles out true black metal fans from those who expect different things in their music, and may trouble those who are trying to get into the album without liking the genre. Kathaarian Life Code
is a 10 minute kick-off to the album and to many a worthy highlight of the album, with more varied drum-work and the most sinister riffs to be found through out. The surreal voice of Nocturno Culto introduces the song, along with the repeating chant. The poor, but apt production makes the constrast between sounds seem almost non-existent, weak in the very least. The track is devoid of a constant drum pattern, instead changes tempo to accompany the song.
The vocals are almost unrealistic but vital in defining the genre, they are excellently carried out through out the album by Culto. My favorite song on the album is In The Shadow of the Horns
, where the very mellow and self-contented tone of the song makes it one of the most honest songs; even here, the fuzz is simply the core of the song and adds immensely to it. Subtle and brittle guitar distortion makes the song very seamless, and it sounds awesome. Where Cold Winds Blow
is one of the more emotional and thought-provoking tracks with a constant drum speed and withering guitar melody. As much as I hate getting to the point, this is a sad song. The song is a highlight on the album, even though it is repetitive, because of the solid melody.
The album never eschews its unrelenting attitude; clocking in at 42 minutes, it's an onslaught of pure evil. Every song is unique, despite how it may seem, and even though I tend to act like a nice little Christian boy, this will kick the *** out of you. Although only the most seasoned metal fans will appreciate its "classicness", it is worth the journey for everyone who craves some seriously badass metal, at its most essential.