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A Cornerstone For Sure - 85%

corviderrant, February 24th, 2004

After listening to this album a bit, I can see why many consider this to be an essential part of the modern black metal movement. The vibe and feeling on this album are amazing, if the playing isn’t, and the production is actually slightly better than most black metal out there. And really, nobody else sounds like Csihar Attilla—his inimitable deep, raspy, thickly accented moans, growls, and screams are unlike any other black metal vocalist out there. He sounds really, truly unhinged, like a mental hospital inmate who happened to wander into the studio and ended up having a total meltdown in front of the mike. Take notes, all you aspiring black metallers out there; this guy is the real deal, sounding genuinely more menacing and threatening than most.

The guitars and bass merge into a single ugly wall of fuzz, yet each has a distinct presence, and Hellhammer simply beats the living crap out of his kit (although he’s not as tight as he’s since become) with vigor and enthusiasm. The riffing is simple, but engrossing, and it seems that Euronymous knew his way around a riff more than some would imply, as they are actually well structured and catchy in their repetitive, minimalist flow, and his raw, caustic guitar tone really added to the feel of this album.

Every tune is played with all the ability they could muster back then, which makes it feel all the more sincere, and I guess this is what is meant by “true” in black metal circles. The fact that they put their hearts into the music is what makes this an undeniably powerful and still influential album, and you can sense that in every song. Definitely a keeper, and most definitely one of the most true cult masterpieces out there alongside the old Venom, Bathory and Celtic Frost albums.