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Naysayers can eternally rot! This is raw, minimalistic, nihilistic, grim black metal, a milestone and eternal classic in the genre. Joke if you want about the production (which sounds great compared to Mutiilation or Beherit, I don't see what the complaining is all about), but the production is just one of the great things about this album. Really everything about the album is great, it deserves its rating. It is the epitome of evil in black metal music, impossible to access by the mainstream, metal or otherwise. Fans of popular newer black metal may be disgusted to find out not all evil can be that clean. This is dirty, this is raw.
The overall sound of the album has been described by many, but I'll do it too in case you don't know yet. The drums are very repetitive, mid to fast tempo blastbeats. The drum sound is muffled, and essentially becomes "white noise" to a casual listener unless you are listening to the album very closely. This repetitive and "background noise" nature of the drums is a blessing. The drums serve only to keep a steady, trance-like rhythm to the music. This allows the guitar to be the focus of the instrumental portion of the music.
Which brings me to my next point: the riffs of Transilvanian Hunger. They are mostly sad-sounding, and all definitely evil. The riffs of this album are the soundtrack to darkness and sadness. They are all played entirely open: no palm muting or fancy guitar work here. Strictly open notes, open strings, and power chords with open strings for dissonance create a wall of sad-sounding riffage. The bass is essentially unheard on this album due to its nature and focus on guitar, however at some points it is heard, generally playing one or two notes over and over (essentially a background-music extension of the drums). The guitars, leading the instrumental sound of the band, are fairly high pitched in terms of metal, which runs parallel to the vocals of Nocturno Culto.
Nocturno Culto's vocals are top-notch to creating an evil, black metal atmosphere. He has throaty, evil sounding growls that are neither very low (ala death metal) or very screechy (ala Hat from Gorgoroth's Pentagram). The vocals are mid-range which is really great for the music- high vocals would simply be over the top in this sort of minimalist rampage of bleak nihilism, and low vocals would take the emphasis off of the repetitive (this is a good thing here) two or three black metal riffs per song.
This album's effect on black metal is profound- there are a slew of bands who play Transilvanian Hunger-influenced style. Generally they fail to meet the mark- one generally cannot create evil beauty like this over again. Darkthrone didn't try to create the sound again, as they haven't had an album like this since.This album shows that a band can play only a minimal amount of a few riffs in a cold atmosphere and create an absolute classic.