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Revolutionary & iconic in presentation as well as in substance. - 100%

TemazroS, February 11th, 2019
Written based on this version: 1993, CD, Peaceville Records

As it has become so incredibly influential, the importance of the album in hand can hardly be overrated in the history of black metal. "Under A Funeral Moon" by Darkthrone is, in effect, so revolutionary that its brilliance threatens to eclipse all the other blackness out there, worthy of your attention. There's no denying it anymore: its impact & repute have become truly overwhelming.

Perhaps it doesn't have quite the same envergure as—for instance—Mayhem's "De Mysteriis Dom. Sathanas", Emperor's "In The Nightside Eclipse" or Satyricon's "The Shadowthrone". But still, many regard it as one of the paramount monuments of the black metal‑movement: none of the tracks are skippable and every single one has its own merits.

What's more: it features some of the most chilling & iconic artwork ever to profanate the cover of a black metal‑record, representing a moonlit pale‑faced demon amidst the branches of a tree, evoking a looming black night in the cold of deep midwinter, in the spirit of Satan. How many black‑and‑white covers in suchlike minimalist style can't be found in today's black metal‑subculture?

The austere production values also emphasize this chilling coldness, by way of rendering the bass practically inaudible—almost totally dissolving in the fuzzy background hiss. I find that immensely groundbreaking for this period in time. Moreover, those few times the bass line does come through the mix loud & clear – e.g.: shortly after the beginning of "Summer Of The Diabolical Holocaust" – it proves to be as effective as it's simple, chopping away in badass barbaric frenzy.

In the foreground Nocturno Culto is wreaking havoc—as if possessed. His shrieks sound very raspy and are loaded with reverb. To give them an even more baleful feel they are interspersed with fiendish evil laughter & ominous unholy roars from the heinous mouth of hell itself. This extreme soundscape is topped off with the abyssal contrast between the ear‑piercing sharpness of the hi‑hats and the huge hollow thunder of the floor tom, that only bursts loose on scattered occasions.

Where "A Blaze In The Northern Sky"—their previous effort—still showed sparse riffs & structures reminiscent of the band's death metal‑origins, this is where Darkthrone's metamorphosis into a cold & uncompromising black metal‑beast was completed. But that doesn't mean in the least that the work presented here is anti‑musical or the product of bad musicians: it only means that the shrill harshness of the entire enterprise was never meant to please a large number of listeners.

Uncompromising is a fitting description for this, because the whole affair has a distinctly underground, nearly punkish vibe to it—very much in the vein of the records France's Black Legions would come to release a few years further down the road.

As a matter of fact, according to Fenriz the main objective back in the day was a retrograde endeavour to revive the first wave of black metal, that had domineered the mid‑eighties under the banner of bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost and Hellhammer. As a result, these old school influences spice the primitive atmosphere throughout the full running time.

The standout song here has to be "To Walk The Infernal Fields". During the part that directly follows the spectacular transition – timespan: 04:12 ➜ 05:21 – the rhythm section wields a doomy yet emphatic pace, that sort of reminds of the violent midtempo harnessed on the song "The Freezing Moon" by the one and only true Mayhem.

But the album culminates in—in what is in my opinion—the most remarkable track on offer: the apocalyptic finale "Crossing The Triangle Of Flames" ; remarkable because of the for black metal unusually slow, massively pounding percussion, which blends in the uncanny ambiance of a gong sound effect as an outroductory rite, until—at the very end—the clanging chimes of doom fade away in the distance.