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A lot of folks have gone on and on about the greatness of Emperor, Mayhem, and Burzum. Emperor because In The Nightside Eclipse is supposedly the most beautiful black metal album ever recorded and because Emperor have probably influenced the largest amount of non-black metal bands, more than any other band to emerge from the second wave of black metal (they just about invented symphonic metal); Mayhem because some people seem to latch onto the idea that De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas was the most important debut black metal album of all time and because the history of Mayhem has pretty much reached legendary status; Burzum because Varg’s music was distinctly different from the rest of the second-wave pack, and because some people seem to think controversy=musical greatness. Unfortunately, Darkthrone had little influence beyond the realm of black metal, had no “legend” about them, and had little in the way of controversy (save some unremarkable comment about Jews that wasn’t nearly as bad as anything Varg did); thus, Darkthrone is probably the most overlooked of the Big Four and, in my opinion, criminally underappreciated.
What Fenriz, Zephyrous and Nocturno Culto did on this record is simply amazing. They took all the normal trademarks of black metal—necro production, raspy screams, tremolo-picked riffs, inaudible bass lines, lack of palm muting (unheard of in most other metal genres)—and made black metal that was far from normal. On the surface, it may not seem all that different from Under a Funeral Moon. The songs are minimalist in technique as well as composition, the production is trademark necro and the vocals are still a mix of throaty growls and raspy screams. However, the entire atmosphere of the record is vastly different than its predecessors. While A Blaze In the Northern Sky and Under A Funeral Moon were a mixed bag of evil and grim atmosphere, the third part of the Darkthrone “Black Metal Trilogy” has a haunting, hypnotic and beautiful aura. Yes, that’s right folks, a black metal album that has all of the beauty of a thick pine forest glistening with newly fallen snow. I’d say this album’s beauty is definitely more atmospherically striking than the beauty in Emperor’s In the Nightside Eclipse.
However, the hypnotic qualities are what really make this album shine. I’m fairly positive the band’s goal was to record an album with the intention of putting the listener into a trance and possibly lulling them into sleep. It’s really quite astounding that riffs this simple, riffs so easy to play and compose, can have such a profound effect on the listener. It hypnotizes you into a trance and….god dammit, I can fall asleep to this album. There, I said it; there’s actually a black metal album someone can fall into a peaceful slumber to whilst listening to it.
Transilvanian Hunger is damn near perfect; from the heartfelt impact of the title track’s opening riff to the way Fenriz’s repetitive drumming gives the album a uniform rhythmic constancy, everything fits together and works to achieve a trance in its listeners. This is a must-listen for black metal fans.
Album highlights: “Transilvanian Hunger,” “Graven Takeheimens Saler,” “As Flittermice as Satan’s Spys.”