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Something like the Second Wave of Norwegian black metal has become so canonized that even its most apocryphal offerings seem to have worth, if even only for their historical merits. Among the bands that made the Second Wave so great, few rank higher than Darkthrone. Of course, that's coming as news to no one by that point. One thing I admire the band's "unholy trilogy" for is the fact that any of the three could technically be my favourite depending on the mood I'm in. In spite of the countless imitators, I Darkthrone's personal identity still feels unique to my ears. Under a Funeral Moon is one of the coldest fucking albums that have ever slithered into my ears, and given the blissfully effective roughness these guys sported was a purposeful artistic choice on their parts, hearing them play some of that album in a rough rehearsal is fine by me.
Under beskyttelse av mørke was released in Japan under a strict 666 copy limit. For the sake of collection, I've no doubt the prices run high for this one; whether it's actually worth selling a kidney on the black market ultimately depends on whether you're a real diehard. While it's probably more of a side attraction to other listeners, I can't help but think this is a pretty cool expansion on the existing legend that is Under a Funeral Moon. While that album is still famed for its cold rawness, hearing a living room rehearsal like this goes to show how much of it was really calculated. The tracks here are about as rough as you can get, and the music practically begs for that mentality.
Normally, the sound (or lack thereof) of the mix cutting out in lieu of static would be a bad (even horrible) thing for an album. Here, it adds to that "lost gem" charm, in a sort of way I think only Darkthrone have ever truly managed to pull off. "Unholy Black Metal" and "Under a Funeral Moon" sound about as wretched as you would expect, far less atmospheric but certainly heavier than the official studio versions. If you're pining for something original to this release, the only thing on Under beskyttelse av mørke that might fit the bill is an instrumental playthrough of "Crossing the Triangle of Flames". I'm not sure what the idea behind an instrumental version was-- Karaoke night, anyone?-- but it arguably works to this release's benefit that there has been change from the original.
I wouldn't say a ton of forethought went into Under beskyttelse av mørke, but who cares. It's a rare and candid insight into one of the best-ever black metal bands playing together at their height. Lack of original material or not, it's well worth checking out if you're a fan of Under a Funeral Moon.
Of the many Darkthrone releases out there, the Japanese release Under Beskyt'telse av Morke is likely the least valuable. Not to collectors, as the CD and 12" vinyl were released in a very limited pressing (the CD was 666 copies) with a bunch of bonus material, like stickers, badges, postcards, and a toy (as Japanese are won to do with their omake boxes). But to the average listener, there really isn't that much on offer here, simply a trio of outtakes from 1992's Under a Funeral Moon rehearsals. I may be a huge fan of this band, but not to the level at which Fenriz could spit in a handkerchief and I would buy it on eBay for $100. And Under Beskyt'telse av Morke is a creamy, wopping wad of spittle, with perhaps one exception.
"Unholy Black Metal" and "Under a Funeral Moon" are both decently bloodied rehearsal pieces, and yet, they aren't nearly as vibrant and raw as the versions from the full-length, which buzz with misanthropic evil and crypt stench. The vocals for the latter are quite good, with the proper amount of vitriol that blends straight into the burgeoning guitar rhythm, the excellent half Hellhammer and half Slayer-tribute that it is, but even then, I prefer the album cut. Also...that squeal! Aaaaaagh. No, perhaps the only piece of questionable value on this release is the instrumental take on "Crossing the Triangle of Flames", which might have resonated with the 1-2 fans in Japan who actually wanted to use this at a karaoke, scaring off all their friends and certainly their dates for the evening. And if not scaring off that date, he or she is a keeper! I obviously prefer to have my vocals here, but I can see using this as a battle theme for a 1st edition Dungeons & Dragons game where the players are all forced to wear corduroy pants and tight t-shirts with faded prints from 25-30 years ago.
And yet I digress, because there is nothing else to do with this EP but digress. It's a niche release for a very niche audience who will buy anything with the band's logo printed on it, and exactly the type of waste of plastic and print and resource that I am loathe to permit as I've become awakened to the benefits of digital media and less overall garbage in the universe (about as hippy as I get, don't worry). I'm guessing most people are not among the privileged few to own this, and thus have downloaded it for themselves, which is a better alternative if you are seeking to karaoke with utmost grimness.
Darkthrone are one of the longest standing black metal gods around as most know already . Most of their early stuff is hailed as unquestionable triumphs and held in the highest regard by most fans of this genre . Their quote unquote unholy trinity being A Blaze In the Northern Sky , Transilvanian Hunger , and Under A Funeral Moon which makes up their first three releases after changing over from being a death metal band is absolutely necessary in anyones black metal collection and Under Beskyttelse av Morke fits right in .
When hearing of this release before getting my hands on it on vinyl (666 copies pressed and only sold at a japjanese black metal convention there) me being from the U.S i figured thats exactly what a Darkthrone fan needs , a crappy washed out obscure rehearsal done in a basement that's in a limited press and will no doubt sound like sheer crap . Three rehearsal tracks from Under A Funeral Moon in 1992 recorded in Fenriz's living room cannot be good right ? Wrong !
The sound here is very clear . The tracks being Under a Funeral Moon , Unholy Black Metal , and an instrumental only version of Crossing The Triangle Of Flames is actually really freaking heavy .Nocturno Culto's vocals are just as sick as anything he laid down in the studio on the aforementioned three albums , raw evil and black sung with total conviction he does not disappoint here . Zephyrous's guitar is blazingly fast , well played and totally brutal , dare i say even better than on the actual album itself . Last but certainly not least is the drums . Fenriz is dead on in this rehearsal , drumming at a frantic morbid pace , never missing a beat , all the fills , cymbals and grinding black metal fury is there .
One almost feels as if they are sitting on the couch watching Darkthrone when hearing this and most would have loved to have been . For an obscure little moment in history when the evilest of the early Norwegian black metal bands was still a rare trio , you can thank whoever decided to record this rehearsal , because it easily fits in with any Darkthrone collectors discography . For once also it doesn't sound as if the annoying neighbor decided to press record on an old boom box in the apartment next door when this was going on so they would have proof for the cops that these kids were being way way too loud . This is a really enjoyable raw rehearsal . Pray for a repress because this is a great one !