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Soulside Journey / A Blaze In The Northern Sky / Under A Funeral Moon / Transilvanian Hunger
(Peaceville Records)
41:44min / 42:04min / 40:41min / 39:04min

In a time between the decline of the Ancient Ones of Death / Black Metal, there was the next generation of diehards keeping the scene alive through the international underground. Globally, the scene survived through fanzines, tape traders and the dedicated bands themselves. Eventually the Death Metal scene rose but unfortunately then came the infamous trend that subsequently caused the rise of Black Metal. Several worthy Death Metal bands did not get respected by the trendies and then began the transformation... With that in mind, before Darkthrone became known as True Norwegian Black Metal, they were once known as a Death Metal band. Like various other Death Metal groups at the time, they did not get as much recognition as deserved. Nevertheless, "Soulside Journey" was released and the diehards in the underground certainly gave them support! Musically very well played and lyrically well thought out, this album is one of the jewels of the late 80s style Death Metal! "Soulside Journey" incorporates heavy and atmospheric guitar riffs, with slow, mid paced and genuine thrash beats! Lots of double bass and rolls display some great drumming by Fenriz! There are even guitar solos and a seldom used synth on this recording!! Ted Skjellum's (Nocturno Culto) voice is a deep mid and as killer as ever! All these elements show that Darkthrone certainly do have musicianship skills that some may not be aware of today. There is a variation of tempo and riff changes throughout the album which keep it very flexible. At times it can be an all out Thrashing Death Metal assault, and others it can be melodic with haunting harmonious guitars. To summon it all up, this is an essential album of Total Death!!! Next came "A Blaze In The Northern Sky", "Under A Funeral Moon" and "Transilvanian Hunger". By then (early 90s), the new Trendy Death Metal scene had practically erased the original Death Metal essence created by bands such as Possessed, Celtic Frost and Bathory (for those of you not aware, yes, the fact is those bands were actually known as Death Metal back in the 80s!). That is the time when Darkthrone started heading towards Black Metal. Which is kind of ironic because especially during that era, Black Metal actually had more of the original Death Metal elements than the new Trendy Death Metal scene. I emphasize the word Trendy, because true Death Metal has the same roots as Black Metal, no question about it! The new Trendy Death Metal scene was being represented by bands wearing bermuda shorts, jogging suits and sports clothing, playing music that did not have cult conviction behind it. Some bands even started claiming to be so called "Christian Death Metal"! That's when Darkthrone started using aliases, put on the corspepaint and officially became known as Black Metal! The three forementioned albums are a bit different from each other but yet similar in that they are all the unique style of "raw" sounding Black Metal the Darkthrone way! It's not about being the fastest band in the world, or being the most technical band, nor having a great production! "A Blaze..." opens up with some Satanic sounding chants, then goes into the epic 'Kathaarian Life Code'! The song opens up with a fast thrashing verse and soon goes into a mid pace riff quickly going back to the opening speed then really slows down to another realm. The song continues on it's journey through different speeds and riffs and so does the rest of the music on the recording. One can hear the Ancient Ones influence, but Darkthrone creates it's own aura. The majority of the album consists of fast and mid-tempos provided by the energetic drumming of Fenriz! All these portals summon the darkness through the unholy spiritual feel of the music! Not to mention the evilness brought forth through the lyrical articulation! Which by the way, the voice of Nocturno Culto fits perfectly! The vocals are grim and convincing, they sound possessed!!! The riffs are atmospheric, sometimes brutal and other times obscurely melodic or depressive. "Under A Funeral Moon" basically picks up where it's predecessor left off. The infernal sound of Darkthrone continues to bring forth True Norwegian Black Metal. "Transilvanian Hunger" takes the listener into another chapter of it's black art, summoning a trance-like flow into the abysmal depths of Darkthrone. The unique dirty sound is lead by the dimension, visions of darkness prevail. Eternally captured, these albums remain cult classics, still casting it's spell. Many have tried to copy the necro Black Metal style of Darkthrone, but they remain to be monumental. If you consider yourself a Death / Black Metal fanatic, these albums are simply a must have! Plus with the re-issues you get the opportunity to see Fenriz & Nocturno Culto speak for them selves (each album got enriched by a video interview as a bonus - Ed.)!! To put this to a close, all hail the mighty Darkthrone!!!

Rick Cortez

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