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Darkthrone's Transylvanian Hunger hardly needs any introduction to anyone with even a passing interest in black metal. But what makes this lonely record such a monstrously important album? The importance lies in the regression. Darkthrone regressed at a time when bands were attempting to progress. With this album, Darkthrone were one of the first bands to look at regression as progression.
As soon as title track opens, your mental state is immediately transformed, rearranged. There is no pretentious guitar noodling here, no jazz interludes such as were finding foothold in death metal. This is black metal at it's blackest, most pure state. Eight tracks of musical malice. As Transylvanian Hunger fades out, you are expecting another pitch black composition but instead you are confronted with Over Fjell Og Giennom Torner, an entirely different beast of evil. Subtle melodies hint at some unknown joke. This album exists to play with your mind and does through the very last track. It pokes and prods relentlessly at your fears.
The production is primitive, yet surpasses most black metal releases in it's atmosphere. Each instrument is audible. Zephyrous' guitars cut through Nocturno Culto's trebly, wobbly bass tone, with knifelike sharpness. Tremlo picking is clearly the method to the madness. Fenriz's drums are primitive, basic back and forth between the bass and snare with some crash and ride thunder hear than there. Even though each song is very similar, you can tell each one apart instantly. Quick leads and accents hear and there blend into the album's aesthetic perfectly. Not pretentious, not ovedone, just there, leaving a signature. Vocally, Nocturno Culto's vocals are un-earthly. Each time something erupts from his mouth, it sounds like his throat is ripped and scarred more severely.
These are well crafted songs meant to leave not only an impression but a mental scar, a memory of this album's impact. Songs like Slottet I Det Fjerne are simply epic in their melodies. Each song can be a soundtrack to a journey to hell. The second half of the album, with lyrics written by Sir Varg Vikernes, is conducive to the overall feel of the album. My only complaint is that the noise inbetween songs cuts off. I would have loved to hear the static, hiss and shit there at all times instead of cutting off. For what it is worth though, this album is a classic example of what black metal evolved, devolved from.