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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing,
After experimenting with Death Metal on ‘Soulside Journey’ (which many, including the band themselves, viewed as a disappointment), Darkthrone followed an increasing popular trend amongst Norwegian bands by jumping on the Black Metal bandwagon. But instead of becoming another group of generic wannabes, they became one of the most respected and influential bands in the genre. This six–track effort was their first attempt at Black Metal, and is rightly hailed as a classic.
From the spooky–sounding intro and into “Kathaarian Life Code”, the first thing that strikes you about this album is the production. ‘A Blaze in the Northern Sky’ is one of the rawest sounding records released and will come as a shock to anyone new to the genre. Fortunately, the sound quality acts as the perfect complement to the songs, and if anything, adds to the atmosphere; you could easily picture this being played by the band in a cold icy forest. Besides, Darkthrone were never one to rely on glitzy production jobs — their music was always good enough to speak for itself.
Which brings us to the actual music. All six of the songs on offer are fantastic and amongst the band’s best. From the evil feel and complicated riffing of “Kathaarian Life Code”, to the twisted genius of the title track, Darkthrone have pulled out all the stops here to produce an absolute beast of an album. The musicianship here is top–notch. Fenriz’s awesome drumming and the fantastic guitar work courtesy of Zephyrous and Nocturno Culto were made for each other, whilst the vocals (also by Nocturno Culto) are throaty growls which fit neatly on top, his consistent performance making the album sound that bit more evil and atmospheric.
This album was the one that set the standard that all other Darkthrone releases would be judged by. Whilst a couple of albums have come close, nothing Darkthrone have done since this album has bettered it, and chances are, none of their future albums will either.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Black Metal Masterpiece,
OK, let's see...what to say of this album?
A person associated with Black Metal once reminded not to mistake lack of talent with genius. The walk along this extremely narrow grid seems to be quite fitting with Darkthrone: The value of musical skill? Naught. The song-writing? A catastrophe to any Primary music teacher. The sound quality? A bit like a faulty electric razor. The music itself? A cacophony that could not be worse; the album sounds a little like a few kids who figured out how to mess with the gain pedal and the guitar, the vocals a bit like a chain smoker after 45 years. And now you wonder why Peaceville heavily reconsidered having ever signed them?
So what is it then that deserves this album 5 stars? Well, it is easy: The songs are killers; and the minimalistic setting only happens to highlight an atmosphere so dark and cold that Satan himself is hiding behind a sofa. Nocturno Culto's voice is genius, too, raspy as it is - grimmer than any horror movie and frostier than the deepest reach of Siberia. Not to speak of Zephyrous' utter rape of the guitar, nor of the trollish battery delivered by Fenriz.
So as it is, I would certainly not recommend to listen to this album alone in a dark wood. The old quote of "Black Metal ist Krieg" (Black Metal is war) could not be more fitting to this album, and if you're a fan of the likes of Bathory or Burzum, then you've not lived until you've heard this album; it is simply one of the best BM albums ever recorded, and should not be missing from any CD collection, at least not in the collections of those that boast themselves "True Black Metallers". Congratulations to Darkthrone for creating a masterpiece for all eternity!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Black Metal classic,
Firstly we're treated to a somewhat amusing intro of dark, ceremonious "Ahhhhh"s, a Satanic ritual in musical form, which I couldn't help but to laugh at simply for how heavily clichéd it sounds. Indeed, Kathaarian Life Code starts with the sound of perfectly executed high-speed double-kick drumming, and distorted, high-treble guitar sounds, forming a blisteringly fast, evil sounding piece, the lack of production really complementing the mix - the album sounds chillier than icecaps. The vocals really are the icing on this dark, dark cake - shrieks of hatred marinated in reverb come tearing out of your speakers. The downsides to this album are so few I've had trouble finding any, but if I had to list any I'd state that: A) taping the intro to the album at the end and just adding a fade out was just plain lazy B) sometimes the attempts to sound Satanic and evil, well, just come across as if they're trying too hard. For instance, there's a part in Kathaarian Life Code where the screaming is abandoned for a yell of "Ahaha! It's a true place of evil!", which made me laugh out loud the first time I heard it. Since then, of course, I've come to know the whole album rather well, and I'd say it contains some truly great Black Metal; perhaps the highlight of the album is, for me, the song A Blaze In The Northern Sky, though there isn't a bad track on here. If you happen to appreciate Black Metal at all, then this is definitely an, if not THE, album for you.
Evil never sounded so great, or so viscerally exciting.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars black metal thats so evil you may have nightmares,
this is darkthrones second album and their first black metal album and the coldness and darkness just creeps out of it and the excellence is undisputed,with darkthrone you get guitar,drum and bass,and thats it,there is no keyboards or opera playing in the background,that aint a bad thing as far as im concerned,but darkthrone are primitive and raw in their black metal display,the vocals are spewed forth with the rage of a demon,the lyrics are cold and unrelenting,there is no love in these songs except for evil,its fast and frantic and cold and callous,these traits may be true of alot of black metal artists but somehow darkthrone just seem more sincere and classier at executing what they want,songs like in the shadow of the horns and blaze in the northern sky have never sounded better,take it from me when i say that if you want black metal that is as black as it comes then grab this and you will be captivated from the start
5.0 out of 5 stars The next thousand years...ARE OWERRZZZ!!!,
This album changed my life. I purchased the 'Total Death' album when it came out in 1996 and was not impressed. I was used to death metal and a few BM bands like Emperor and early COF. What is this? weak, boring. Never mind, skip forward 3 years and I hear 'The Pagan Winter' on a peaceville sampler and I cannot believe what I am hearing; this song is so primal, unrelenting and evil! I went out immediately and got hold of the album, only to find that it not only effortlessly clawed the same feelings out of me for its entire duration, but that it surpassed my wildest dreams of what it would be.
From the poisoned chants that introduce 'Kathaarian life code' to those that carry the album to silence, there is nothing here that does not evoke a truly primal evil. The song writing is Darkthrone's best, made totally black by Fenriz hitting his drumkit like the object of his hatred that he does not quite understand, often pausing to comprehend and then sporadically batter as if to check for life before launching into another long segment of total oppression.
I have little idea how to describe how this music sounds to someone who is unfamiliar to black metal, other than stating that it is fairly progressive yet monotonous, punky, abrasive, completely submerged in an evil atmosphere, frenzied and slightly possessed; possession being what all great black metal should sound like. To those familiar with the genre, this is a milestone.
So, after digesting this album, I got hold of all the Darkthrone releases I could find, then gave 'Total Death' another chance. This time, I could see where they were coming from and had to take back many things I'd said about the album (I'd already taken back everything I'd said about the band)! Then I chose black metal.
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold minimalist black metal genius,
This review is from: A Blaze in the Northern Sky (Audio CD)
It took me ages to get into this. Ages. When I first heard the title track on a Peaceville compilation tape in 1991 I thought it was great. I was into the usual suspects like Morbid Angel etc and when I heard this I just thought it was totally nasty. So I bought the album. And that just confused me. I don't think as a 14 year old boy I was fully ready to appreciate the minimalist movement the Norway scene had to offer. You had to be there from the off, and unfortunately for me (at the time) I had missed the boat.
Now, as a late 20 something, who hasn't given up on death/ black metal, I listen to this again (on my nice shiney cd, not the old knackered cassette) and its fiendishly marvelous !! From the spoken intro with its demonic monk like chant and solemn drum, all held together with a goblin like strangled prose, to the head long train crash that is the first real note of music on the cd, its all pretty mad !!!
The first few bars of actual music consist of insane drumming and wailing guitars, and thats about it. As was true to form then, the band have recorded this in some kind of toilet, as the production is minimal and the hiss of the guitars and crash cymbals really play up on the recording. Just how the band intended it to be. I don't remember the reviews of stuff like early Burzum or Mayhem, or Darkthrone's black metal start (their debut was out and out death metal) but I am sure, after the rise of more technical death metal in 1990/91 (compared to late 80's stuff such as Autopsy's debut and even Death's first 2 efforts) they probably didn't favour A Blaze in the Northern Sky too well.
Now I have time to compare, adjust, and appreciate my own tastes some 15 years on, and A.B.I.T.N.S. is pretty cool!!! It has all the trademarks of a classic Norwegian BM album. Lightning drumming, repetative riffing, that screeching vocal style and a whole lotta attitude. Right down to the album cover (which cost the price of a disposible camera to develop) it just screams "golden age" BM. This was a band who took themselves very very seriously, right down to the corpse paint !!
All the tracks are classics, but you really have to appreciate BM or else you are wasting your money.
Superior to Burzum's debut, on par with Emperor's (in my own humble opinion) a direct influence on bands such as Marduk, Dark Funeral, Gorgoroth etc...
well worth a listen.
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best album in Black Metal? Yes. Definately.,
Now with such a biased title, it shouldn't be too hard to tell how much I love this album. It's an all time favourite and I genuinely believe that it is the best black metal album money can buy.
That said let's dive straight into why it's so awesome. Constant tempo changes full of awesome riffs, blasting drums that know WHEN to slow down and let the guitar breathe and haunting reverb-drenched shrieking vocals. Many of these things are black metal staples now (save tempo changes, alot of bands just go 200mph all the time now), but this album was the first that I felt really nailed down that sound.
It's cold and it's grim, to use really cheesy cliche terms. The first thing that will strike you about this album (if you aren't accustomed to Black Metal), is just how grim it is... and by grim, I mean that the production is appalling. However, this sounds really pretensious, but I think the poor production works in its favour. I can't imagine this album being all polished and nice sounding... I just don't think it would work.
It will likely take you a few listens to get past the atrocious production, but once you do you will find that this is one of the finest records you've ever heard... and if you're a metal fan, I can guarantee that :D
5.0 out of 5 stars Blazing!,
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A great album! - some say it is not wholly black metal and has Death metal influence, if that is the case I say good! - Whilst it may not be my favourite album of Darkthrone's Unholy Trinity i deffinately respect this album immensely for its originality.
The Guitars have always been my favourite part of Darkthrone and this album showcases some of their better riffs and lead breaks and although simple really have great effect. The drumming is also very cool and they use a thunderous sound that I am very envious of and would love to know how they acheive it.
Buy this album if you are interested in the slightest in black metal and I am sure it will convert you! one thing to note may be that the sound quality may sound poor upon first listen but like me you will grow to love this effect and find that given chance will really add to the atmosphere of your listening experiance.
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome,
It's not often I right reviews but this album is truly awesome! There's not much to add to what's already been said, but I felt I had to point out a couple of things. I come from listening to a lot of old anarcho-punk which makes the production on this sound quite hi-tech! Also it is my first BM album & from a punks point of view probably the best place to start in this genre, never too prog or self indulgent! A must buy!
5.0 out of 5 stars Crossover black metal,
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This review is from: A Blaze in the Northern Sky (MP3 Download)
This is a monumental album, but it lacks the utter coldness of Funeral moon or Transilvanian hunger, the riffs are more conventional on this album. I am not saying it is less of an album than their other black metal stuff, but for me it is a transitional phase before they found their sound. Do not be discouraged though, it really is a selection of music to really lose yourself in, classic Darkthrone, long may they reign.
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