Review Summary: So Pure ... So Cold...
Back in 1994, the Norwegian black metal band Darkthrone had just released two famous black metal records, A Blaze In the Northern Sky
and Under a Funeral Moon
. These records helped them garnish a massive cult following in the black metal community and put them at the front of the second wave of black metal, along with other famous Norwegian black metal acts such as Burzum, Mayhem and Immortal. Darkthrone was very successful at resurrecting the traditional black metal atmosphere on their albums, complete with the classic production, all while still being able to pour the traditional formula into a new and refreshing musical form. Still, Darkthrone were not happy with the way their music was evolving so they decided to create something else, and that was Transilvanian Hunger
. At its core, it was a very ambitious attempt at merging the good parts about its predecessors with the more traditional musical approach of the first wave of black metal, all while maintaining a typical black metal atmosphere. This was sure to be a challenge for the band.
At the time of release, Darkthrone were:
Nocturno Culto: vocals, guitar, bass
Right off the bat when you listen to the first concentrated slab of black metal called 'Transilvanian Hunger' you will notice that Darkthrone yet again went with the underproduced sound that early, 'traditional' black metal records are so famous for, which was also heavily present on A Blaze in The Northern Sky
. On a non-black metal record that would reduce the sound quality to an indistinguishable drab, but not on Transilvanian Hunger
. On the contrary, the bad production actually improves the effect of the music, meaning that it only strengthens the album's cold and evil atmosphere.
Of course, Transilvanian Hunger is still a traditional black metal record at heart, which is partially showcased by the pressing that was placed on the early cd versions that read: True Norwegian Black Metal. This means that the riffs are vastly made out of heavy tremolo picking, and that the drumming makes heavy use of blast beats.There is little musical variety present in the riffs, but they are so powerful and all-consuming that you probably won't even notice the lack of variety while the album flies by. The same thing can be said about the drums.They are barely noticeable at first thanks to the production, but their blazing power will soon rise above the crunching guitar riffs and slam tiny holes into your ear drums so that you will remember just how inhumanely fast and amazing they actually are. Just listen to 'En As Dype Skogen' and you will surely get blown away by the insane speed at which the instruments are played.
Strangely, the early prints supported another phrase: "Norsk Arisk Black Metal"
, which apparently indicated that they were inspired by neo-Nazi thoughts, which could be combined with the later statement “We would like to state that Transilvanian Hunger stands beyond any criticism. If any man should attempt to criticize this LP, he should be thoroughly patronized for his obviously Jewish behavior.”
As it turns out this was nothing more than a publicity stunt which obviously put the band in bad daylight, especially if you know that the lyrics for the final four songs on this album were written by Mayhem guitarist Varg Vikernes, who was at that time serving a prison sentence for after being convicted for murder and arson of several churches. This however does not find its reflection in the lyrics, as they do not express any racist or Nazistic thoughts. The lyrics are very fitting with the overall amosphere of the album, and they blend together well with Nocturno Culto's haunting vocals.
Of course, Transilvanian Hunger
does not support a massive change in comparison to Darkthrone's previous efforts. Hell, people might even think of this album as worse than its predecessors, because Darkthrone deliberately cut back on the variety, and as such this record may come off as slightly boring, especially when compared to A Blaze In the Northern Sky
. However, in my opinion the lack of variety is more than made up by the crushing, beating, howling and just plain raw musical power. As a true black metal classic, Transilvanian Hunger
is an album that no black metal fan should miss.