I thought it might be interesting to do a regular “album of the week” update. No, that isn’t a typo up there. It’s a funny joke !
Considering most of the albums I’ll talk about are likely to be my album of the week anyway, these posts will mainly be about a classic album, or an album that’s been around for a little while too long to really count as new anymore. How fun !
I hope you realise that my use of the term “kvlt” is all in jest. Because, I’m sorry to say, this won’t be week upon week of chat about second wave black metal. Incidentally, this is the top voted definition of kvlt on urbandictionary.com:
Epitomising the musical ideals of sub-underground black metal – the kind of stuff that comes out in limited editions of 300 through vinyl-only labels based in a cave in Belarus. The exact requirements of kvltness vary depending on who you talk to, but usually involve icy, impenetrable production, black-and-white cover art, and concepts drawn from black magic, pagan myths or out-and-out nihilism.
Sounds about right. Although the term kvlt is now used in a kind of derogatory way. I’m sure you know what I mean.
This week then, it’s the turn of the almighty Darkthrone. I think, possibly, they’re my favourite black metal band and this particular album is the one that finally turned me onto the musical path I’ve taken. So I guess I can place the blame firmly at the feet of Ted and Gylve. I hope they don’t mind.
The album in question is Transilvanian Hunger. And is quite rightly considered a classic of the genre and is a prime example of the famous “necro” sound. Look at how grim this cover is.
1. Transilvanian Hunger
2. Over Fjell Og gjennom Torner
3. Skald Av Satans Sol
4. Slottet I Det Fjerne
5. Graven Takeheimens Saler
6. I En Hall Med Flesk Og Mjød
7. As Flittermice As Satans Spys
8. En As i Dype Skogen
So, what’s so special about this album ? I suppose it would be quite lazy to say – everything. I can’t remember what it was that suddenly made it all fall into place for me. I’d been trying to get into black metal for a long time. Having been into metal and a little of punk since I was about…..13, I was getting a little bit bored of all the bands I listened to and the fact it all sounded very similar. Bear in mind I turned 13 in 1997 and think about the kind of music that was around then. Yikes.
I’d played this album a couple of times and I just plain didn’t get it. I didn’t understand what other people could hear that I couldn’t. Then, one day under a funeral moon, it just clicked. And it was magnificent. I’ve always had a healthy interest in the darker side of life, and black metal really spoke to me in way other types of music didn’t. And then on that fateful day (I can’t be too specific here, but I guess it was sometime in 2001), it all made perfect sense.
Transilvanian Hunger is one of those albums that I’ll never get bored of. Of course the production is awful, but that’s what this era of black metal was all about. The most prominent features of the album are the guitars – some of the riffs are spectacular – and the vocals. Those vocals ! I hadn’t heard anything like it before, but I loved it. All deep growls and gutteral calls. What was once terrifying, was now the most amazing music I had ever heard.
The mood of the album is one that can only be created in the environment in which it is intrinsically linked to. That of Norway in the early 90’s. There’s been much written about this period of musical history, so there’s no need to go into detail; upon hearing it you just know that it’s an album borne from that scene. There was quite a lot of controversy surrounding the release of Transilvanian Hunger. Not least because the lovely (ahem) Varg Vikernes of Burzum fame wrote the lyrics to half of the album, and it had to be reissued to remove an inflammatory statement from the back cover. All very kvlt isn’t it ?
Transilvanian Hunger feels cold. It feels frostbitten. It feels anti-establishment. It’s raw in every sense of the word. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a harsh winters day.