Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

More essential than you think - 100%

Noktorn, January 17th, 2010

Of Darkthrone's seminal works, this is probably the most influential. 'A Blaze In The Northern Sky' has its place, but in the end is very much a blackened take on old Celtic Frost, as does 'Transilvanian Hunger', which is influential but more on the level of aesthetics and presentation than real musical content. 'Under A Funeral Moon', though; you can draw a straight line from this to what we think of as the modern black metal scene. Those haunting, dissonant riffs, pulsing thrash beat drumming, and horrendously rasped vocals are in many ways the very foundation of modern black metal, and although this is perhaps the least spoken of aspect of Darkthrone's unholy trinity, it might just be the most important from a historical perspective.

Despite this, it should come as no surprise that no band REALLY sounds like this album, just as no band REALLY replicates the feeling of 'Filosofem', 'De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas', or 'Pure Holocaust'. Invariably, one thing or another gets lost in translation, but in the end it's the fact of the time period and musical context which makes this what it is. An album like 'Under A Funeral Moon' really couldn't be composed at any other moment in time. It's a stellar product of its environment, and what it lacks in the instant memorability of its immediate predecessor and successor it makes up for with a depth of songwriting possibly unequaled elsewhere in Darkthrone's lengthy catalog of releases.

The most important elements are some of the most subtle ones. In a lot of ways the overall song structures and riffing styles of this album are prototypes of the sort of thing you'd end up hearing on 'Transilvanian Hunger', but much less overtly melodic and often outright atonal. 'Transilvanian Hunger' had a great deal of repetition among simple riffs, but few of the riffs on that album would drag out individual chords for as long as Darkthrone does on this album, in many ways making this even more hypnotic and droning than the much-lauded sequel album. The atmosphere, also, is singular to this release, with a murky, droning, occult/ritualistic feel that hasn't been replicated anywhere else. The long stretches of droning chords over binary thrash beat drumming and Nocturno Culto's unusually venomous howls make for a listening experience that could be minimally described as compelling.

'A Blaze In The Northern Sky' and 'Transilvanian Hunger' are infinitely more natural-sounding albums than this one. 'Under A Funeral Moon' has a potent sense of wrongness about it, with rhythms frequently lurching in strange, unsettling ways like on the last two tracks. Frequently odd repetitions of riffs will be used; three repetitions of riff A followed by only two of riff B, making for something that feels off-kilter and twisted despite being uniformly in 4/4. The production makes things that much more sinister and deranged, with a strange guitar tone that sounds like three separate, differently EQ'd instruments playing simultaneously grinding across a dry and lifeless percussive set, which is occasionally bolstered by inexplicable, sudden explosions of bass, like the striking of a bass drum with the circumference of Jupiter. Very weird stuff indeed.

It's understandable why this album often gets shoved aside in conversation in favor of its siblings; this is not an easy listen. Apart from the pseudo-throwaway track 'Unholy Black Metal', the songs on this album are challenging, frightening, and bizarre slabs of genuinely occult music. It would be difficult to say whether this or 'Transilvanian Hunger' is my favorite Darkthrone album, but in the end, it's really an apples and oranges sort of situation. If I want something frozen and melodic, the latter reigns supreme, but if I'm looking for something darker and more disturbing, well, here's the answer to that question. Essential.