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Antithesis - 74%

Felix 1666, June 17th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Peaceville Records

I am almost sure that Fenriz and Nocturno Culto have sympathy for people with pretty dotty affinities, because they also revealed a very strange understanding of metal while recording "Under a Funeral Moon". This is neither good or bad per se, but it requires a closer look.

Of course, it has long ceased to be a secret that the production of the album sucks. It's this kind of production that makes mainstream fans laugh compassionately. Admittedly, seen from an objective point of view, one can understand their reaction. Yet Darkthrone had developed their own ghastly philosophy of black metal and the earthy, flawed, raw and thin sound matched the context. Given this situation, it does not surprise that the barking, snarling and nagging vocals celebrate ugliness in all its facets and the buzz saw guitars torment the nerves of the audience. The quirky duo goes well beyond musical conventions and due to this uncompromising approach it is not difficult to understand why this album is widely deemed as a cult record. Yet this does not mean that the song material fulfils all wishes.

Of course, the outstanding "To Walk the Infernal Fields" has an enormous impact. What a clever kind of paying tribute to one of the best tracks of Bathory. "Enter the Eternal Fire" comes to mind in a matter of seconds as soon as the first tones of Darkthrone's composition force their way. However, the song develops an own identity, although its main riff lies in close proximity to those of Bathory's masterpiece. It's a great number which almost reaches the phenomenal level of Quorthon's model example. The track has a similar pattern, it also opens the second half of the work in an epic manner and it slows down the speed significantly. And to be honest, this less rapid approach is more or less necessary after the first four songs. They impress with velocity and nastiness, but they do not deliver excellent riffs in abundance or many other outstanding musical feature. For example, the third track just rushes by and leaves me cold. More generally, these tunes are mainly furious, dirty and mean. A certain quantum of slower sequences, for example the middle part of "Summer of the Diabolical Holocaust", does not gain the upper hand.

In my humble opinion, the full-length must be understood as a kind of antithesis. I appreciate the album for its rebellious element and the idiosyncratic artwork, for its great title and its contribution to the last really exciting movement in the extreme metal scene, the Norwegian black metal riot. Yet I don't think that the music itself, actual the main component, is mind-blowing. Despite some pretty good pieces (opener, title track, closer), the compositions are just the necessary addition for the image Darkthrone wanted to create. Mission accomplished.