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Classic Review: Darkthrone - A Blaze In The Northern Sky
A Blaze In The Northern Sky

Label: Peaceville Records
Year released: 1991
Duration: 42:05
Tracks: 6
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 4/5

Review online: May 17, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
A Blaze In The Northern Sky

Rated 4.43/5 (88.54%) (103 Votes)

Grim, grim, grim. This is about the most cold, grim and necro album you are likely to hear. Darkthrone started out as a Death Metal band with the release of their debut "Soulside Journey", but then they caught the Black Metal bug and the very next year they emerged with a new sound, new look, and a landmark BM release with this storied album.

There is really not much to say about this but: Darkthrone. These guys embody raw and evil Black Metal of the old school. As this was one of the earliest BM releases (at least to get wide distribution), way back in 1991, there are no frills of any kind here except for a very low-key intro bit on the first track, the 10+ minute "Kathaarian Life Code". After that, Darkthrone just hammer away with the raw, brutal riffs we expect from Black Metal. What makes this still a viable release after 13 years is that the riffs are actually good. There is a lot more Bathory/Venom influence on this album than anything else, and while the guitars are rather simple, they are aggressive and brutal as well. Probably some of the band's Death Metal roots showing, but I have to say I like it, as the pace is a bit slower overall than bands like Mayhem or Satyricon, and the riffing is chunkier.

The production and the mix are, well, raw. The guitars are heavy on the tremelo, the drums sound flat, and the bass is almost invisible. I do like that the vocals are not mixed too loud, but fit in with the rest of the blistering sea of evil. The lyrics are a real surprise, as they are actually very good. I was startled by their quality as I guess I expected them to be as primitive as the guitar tone. Not so.

Just as many people hate Darkthrone and claim they suck ass as will proclaim them the greatest Black Metal band ever. Well, they may not be the greatest ever, but this is still a seminal BM album that spawned hordes of imitators and wannabes the world over. Darkthrone are still with us, and still carry high the torch of raw, evil Black Metal. Say what you will, but this album had a lot to do with the formation and sound of an entire genre, and that marks it as a classic even if you hate it. An essential Black Metal album.

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