22 January 2008

Album of the Week: Darkthrone - Transilvanian Hunger (1994)

For the inaugural Album of the Week, I've chosen an album that has attained legendary standing in the Black Metal milieu. Though they started out as a fairly run-of-the-mill Death Metal outfit, Norway's Darkthrone quickly became of the pioneers of Norwegian Black Metal as we know it today. Unleashed upon the world in 1994, Transilvanian Hunger was Darkthrone's fourth album, and according to many Black Metalheads, their magnum opus. I wouldn't go that far myself, but I do have to acknowledge the influence Transylvanian Hunger has had on modern Black Metal.

Darkthrone's modus opperandi on Transilvanian Hunger seems to be minimalism, through and through. From the simplistic cover art (featuring a candelabra-toting Fenriz) to the infamously raw production, this album gives every impression of having been recorded in Nocturno Culto's laundry room rather than being a product of a proper recording studio. The music itself is equally understated--mid-tempo blastbeats and simple (but surprisingly effective) guitar riffs. What bass there is is barely audible.

To this day such "underground" sensibilities continues to be part of the Darkthrone ethos, and has become something of a staple of Black Metal as a whole--"cold" and "grim" production is a common trope among renowned and respected Black Metal acts, as well as up-and-coming bands seeking to establish their Black Metal street cred. When I first started getting into Black Metal two years ago, this habitual underproduction bothered me quite a bit. Yet as my taste for Black Metal has matured, I have come to relish underproduction, so long as it is tastefully done. When deliberately distorted production works, it works; and it works well on Transilvanian Hunger.

Additional nifty trivia is available from wikipedia.

No comments:

Post a Comment