First off, I know this is practically blasphemy to say, but this is my least liked Darkthrone
album. My reasons are as follows. It is unimaginative, ill-produced, and finally an overall chore to listen to.
I would label this album unimaginative, for no other reason than, unlike the other Darkthrone
albums. It's riffs are boring and repetitive. We all know that repetition is the essence of Darkthrone
, but repetition is only effective when the riffs being repeated are good. The riffs on The Pagan Winter
are great, along with Paragon Belial
, but the rest of the album lacks this quality. Every song starts in the exact same way, except Kathaarian Life
Code, and this gets tiresome quickly. One can definitely tell it is death metal tailored to be black metal, listen to the riffs on The Pagan Winter
for proof of this. To me this is cheating in a sense, and is thus unimaginative.
, I see this album as ill-produced, not because I can't tolerate raw, but because it has to be at least listenable. This is by no means listenable. Half of the album is just meaningless, begrimed, fuzz. It sounds good as bleak winternoise in the background, but is impossible to analyze beyond that. The production on Under a Funeral Moon
and Transylvanian Hunger retain the raw grimness of this album, but through the tinniness and fuzz, one can at least decipher what is going on musically.
This is an overall chore to listen to because, while the album certainly has high points, the meat of it is mediocre. Kathaarian Life
Code starts the album off very well, but the second In the Shadow of the Horns
comes on, it takes a severe dive. I cannot exactly describe what it is, but this song is just annoying, perhaps because of the sub-standard vocal work. Fortunately, Paragon Belial
is amazing, and quite-possibly is the redeeming element of this album, at least in my eyes. Now, for the chore part. Where Cold Winds
Blow is awful. It is just rawness and feedback playing through speakers, masquerading unsuccessfully as music. This leads into the title cut which is another sub-par song, that contributes very little to the album, other than taking up space. Finally, the outro is good, but, to me, it sounds closer to death than black metal. The riffing is very death metal-esque, and some of the slower bits in the song have a droning death metal feel about them.
While I realize the importance of this album to the genre, and the influence it has had, I think the band should have nit-picked a bit more, gotten this album more ready for release, and released a true masterpiece. Perhaps using new material instead of old recycled death metal ideas would have helped as well. Although I do not find the vast majority of this album pleasurable, I respect the band for releasing something so gritty and raw, without regards to public opinion, and for being one of the first to publicly display their use of corpsepaint. I see this album not as the epitome of Darkthrone
(or black metal for that matter), but as a vehicle used to achieve the greater things that were to come. For this reason, this is a piece that I would recommend for its historical significance, not for its musical value.