Review Summary: Darkthrone is the essential black metal band, period. Their harsh vocals, simplistic riffs and blast beats are great for fans of the genre, but the production quality in here has limited appeal and may turn some listeners away.
Darkthrone is the
black metal band. Whether you like them or not, they are exactly everything that the genre stands for. Minimalistic songwriting, haunting melodies, poor production qualities, and controversial, violent lyrics. Darkthrone has been around since the beginning of the "second wave" of black metal (along with bands like Mayhem and early Emperor) and doesn't show any signs of stopping now. Their albums A Blaze in the Northern Sky
and Transilvanian Hunger
have been deemed classics by fans of the genre and are widely known as some of the best underground metal albums in the world. These two albums are classics in the genre, no doubt. People have also deemed this release to join that category. While I can see why they think that, this album has some of the most limited appeal out of any black metal album.
Enter the hateful, freezing album that is...
Darkthrone's Under A Funeral Moon
Darkthrone on this album is comprised of:
Fenriz - Drums
Nocturno Culto - Bass and Vocals
Zephyrous - Guitars
What makes this album so important to black metal fans around the world? One word can easily sum up this question: atmosphere. Whenever you ask any fan of Darkthrone why they like them so much, you'll usually get the response, "The atmosphere of their albums is so incredible!" I can understand what they mean when they say this. Darkthrone has the uncanny ability to make such simple music interesting throughout an entire album spanning for more than forty minutes in length.
Fenriz's drumming is ideal for the band; his generic blast beats are what make black metal music, so he does this for the majority of the entire album. While it's not exactly technical, it's good for what the band seems to want to do with you, and that's hypnotize you with their droning riffs and beats. It's a pretty cool thing, really. Zephyrous' guitar riffs are often punk-esque, but that's common in this genre of music. Occasionally he'll step out and do a nonsense guitar solo that sounds distant in the mix and might even remind some people of Slayer. Nocturno Culto's bass is thick in the mix this time and is loaded with distortion, which I think is really cool for this album.
But what makes black metal such a powerful and moving genre of music? No doubt about it...it's the lyrics. I've seen black metal interviews and documentaries where famous bands say that the music is like "a religious experience" to them, so their lyrics are full of passion and emotion. Even though they're loaded with hate, violence, and even racism at times, you still have to respect them for saying how they feel in such a powerful expression. Here's just a sample of what this album has in store for you lyrically:
I drown myself in the deepest of sorrows,
As you Burned on that stake they burnt
my soul as well.
Your pure feelings, your flaming hate;
it was not enough.
-- Natassja In Eternal Sleep
...this is some extreme material that isn't for the faint of heart. The lyrics are constantly loaded with blasphemy, violence, necrophilia, hatred, and so much more. If you're an artist you have to respect these guys for just telling it like it is, even if you don't agree with them.
So why do lots of people not like black metal, even if they enjoy other sub-genres of extreme music? Once again, I've got another one word answer for you: production. This album has been said by many to be the album that contains the crappiest production quality out of any black metal album out there. While this isn't exactly a true statement, I can see to an extent why people would think that. This is
how black metal is supposed to sound, so it's not exactly crappy for the genre. It's just part of the style, but since this isn't a very popular genre of music not many people are used to how it's supposed to sound. It's actually great for black metal because all of the instruments are at a good level in the mix, and the vocals are as extreme as ever. They're filled with effects to make them sound cold and evil. This is the point where people would turn away from this album, and I can see that, so that's why I just can't rate this album as highly as fans of the genre think it should be rated. It just has so much limited appeal.
Coming up with a rating for this album was pretty difficult. It's considered by many black metal fans to be a classic release for obvious reasons. It contains all of the essential elements of black metal: simplistic riffing, blast beats, and hateful vocals. While this is all positive stuff, I have to take in the negative looks from people who aren't accustomed to albums like these. The production is certainly something that could turn people away, and I'll even admit that I initially was before really delving into this album. I have to take the rating down just because this album would never be accepted very well outside the genre. It's still a pretty sweet black metal album, though.
Inside the genre: 4.5/5
Outside the genre: 2.5/5
m/ Unholy Black Metal m/