without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
This is a very difficult review to write. Transilvanian Hunger is not like other black metal albums. In fact, its not like any other album period. How Fenriz and Nocturno Culto made the artistic and stylistic decisions that birthed this album is beyond me. Like Neo in The Matrix, Transilvanian Hunger is an anomaly in the metal world; this album should not be the album it is. It should be either ignored or looked down upon. By all the normal "rules" of music, this should be a bad album. But it...isn't. In fact, its something much more.
Everything about this album is completely different than anything else in Darkthrone's library, almost shockingly so. The most obvious thing that people will immediately notice is the now infamous production. Transilvanian Hunger has, without a doubt, the dryest, most muffled production I have ever heard. The reasons for this are often debated; while some would say this was a concious decision on the part of Darkthrone, others have said that Peaceville pushed them to release this album at a specific time, and as a result the production was left unfinished. While the riffs are easily identifyable, as are the vocals and even to a certain extent the bass, the aspect of the music that is most affected by the production is the drums. Fenriz's constant attack behind the kit is almost complety washed out and buried in the mix; sometimes its next to impossible to make out the snare, and the bass drum seems like you are hearing it through a wall two doors down.
This would obviously be a huge detriment if not for the nature of the drumming on Transilvanian Hunger. Fenriz's performance on this album consists of a constant one-two punch of bass, snare, and hi-hat that literally almost never changes. I think there are maybe eight or nine fills and maybe two tempo changes on the entire album; everthing else is the same not-quite-blast beat, over and over and over...This coupled with the muffled production gives the drums an indistinct yet strangely hypnotic role on the record, the repitive nature lulling you into a trancelike state where your full attention can be given to the riffs.
Oh, the riffs. Transilvanian Hunger is a riff-based album if ever one existed. Most of the songs consist of three to four chord progessions played in a tremolo style, and there are rarely more then two riffs per song. With that being said, the riffs are absolutely fantastic, displaying a cold, uncompromising sense of melody that would never surface again in Darkthrone's catologue. This is not the kind of grand sweeping melody displayed by Emperor on In The Nightside Eclipse, however; Transilvanian Hunger's melody is of a simpler, more heartfelt kind, combining grace and beauty with the cold malice that every black metal band wants to portray. The bass lines generally follow the guitar, with the raspy vocals topping off the whole sonic picture, like an old man sitting up in a mountain commenting on the misery and despair he sees in the world below him.
All of these unique musical aspects meld together and create some of the most hypnotizing, dark, disturbing songs ever recorded. The now infamous melody of the title track, the strange churning notes of "Over Fjell Og Giennom Torner" (with the opening melody being one of my favorites on the album), the metallic fury of Skald Av Satans Sol, the flowing repition of "I En Hall Med Flesk Gg Mjod", and the misanthropic vibe of "As Flittermice As Satans Spies" sounding like it could be the soundtrack to Hell itself; everything comes together as something complete and whole. Transilvanian Hunger is an ALBUM; all the music shares a pattern, a thought, an ideal.
With its muffled production, unifying drum beat, cold, repititive melodies, and hypnotizing nature, Transilvanian Hunger is unlike any other album in metal or rock. Honestly, it seems strange to even call this "metal". Much like Burzum's Filosofem, this album has done something truly spectacular in my mind, which is carve out its own unique niche in music, sounding unlike anything else, yet sounding somewhat familiar at the same time. How much of this album's unique sound was on purpose on how much of it was a fluke is irrelevant, as Darkthrone has repeatedly stated that they will never make another album like Transilvanian Hunger, and I can't see any other band making one either, no matter how much they tried.
People have repeatedly stated the "flaws" of this album, and I am well aware of all of them. Yet for some reason, on this particular album, by this particular band, these are not flaws, but parts of a unique sound-one might even say, the perfect black metal sound that every like-minded band wants to capture. In this way, like the infamous statement issued on the inital pressings of this album, Transilvanian Hunger is truly beyond criticism.