Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Darkthrone - Transylvanian Hunger

Darkthrone achieved so much in the early 90's with no motivation but to make purely satanic black metal. First they helped germinate the sound known merely by their circle of like-minded Norwegian teenagers with "Goatlord" and "A Blaze in the Northern Sky." "Under a Funeral Moon" was a raw exploration of the catharsis of this new sound and song craft. Having arrived upon "Transylvanian Hunger" and reaching what I believe to be their pinnacle in this journey in just three years is remarkable. This band was gravely inspired and flourishing with productivity, much to the satisfaction of nearly every black metal fan to ever lend the genre their attention since 1994.
The personality of the songs on these albums is so refined and honed that to try to find comparable musical influences has always proven difficult for me. Of course a heavy Bathory and Venom element is there in the forcibly driven pace of everything, but the riffing seems to call upon very noodly and cantankerous buzzing kraut rock. At age 22 Nocturno Culto's style of playing repetitive dissonant chords and harmonizing with lead guitars to achieve a memorable, vivid melody is remarkable in its own right.
The production value on this album mirrors the song writing in this sense. At first listen I'm always forced to take a step back to remember how to listen to this album. Its got an obscure, glossed over and murky hiss to it all. At the end of some of the songs you can hear the instruments all brought to silence, and all that is left is the extreme tape hiss that lends so much to the atmosphere. The lack of clarity beckons you to focus your ears upon the droning subtle melody. The more you tune your attention to its permanent barrage of darkness, the more you enter its despicable realm of utter satanic majesty. One of my favorite characteristics of black metal is the interplay of rhythm and lead guitar to achieve complex harmony and melody.
To think that frantic, buzzing, clashing, racket can be so evocative, enigmatic, ethereal and beautiful is a challenging notion. The fervor that these 19 year old Norwegians found use for over the course of three years will never be equaled again. The greatest black metal albums of all time have already been written, fortunately one of them is Transylvanian Hunger.

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