Archive review: Darkthrone – Transylvanian Hunger

Album: Dark Throne – Transylvanian Hunger

Release date: 2/21/1995

Label: Peaceville Records

“This album sounds like it was recorded through a tin can.” If you’ve ever had a discussion about Transylvanian Hunger you’ve probably heard this phrase at least once. That’s pretty much the truth of it.

This is a good black metal album. Great, in fact. It’s nowhere as awesome as A Blaze in the Northern Sky (my all-time favorite black metal album) or De Mysteriis Dom Satanas, but it’s still a definitive album in its genre. In its sheer minimalism it harkens back to the days of Gregorian music when melodies were simple, tonal, non-harmonic. The result is an ambient experience that is nearly completely ruined by choice of recording.

Transylvanian Hunger is the album to really start the trend of Nordic-poorly recorded works. It’s an intentional choice by the music makers to make the album as ambient as possible. Apparently this was recorded in the forest and mixed with a Fisher Price boombox, because it certainly lives up to its premise. This is virtually unlistenable. If you can make out anything other than high range guitar tone, I applaud you.

I think I sort of understand the black metal ethic. I understand stereotypes that it is “kvlt” to paint your face like a corpse and go out forest-lurking, or church-burning or whatever black metallers do with their spare time other than cooking delicious pastries. Transylvanian Hunger is its own detraction: a borderline work of art marred by odd decisions and disregard for quality.

This rating reflects what other people would think of this album upon first listen. My actual rating of the album would be much higher but I can’t possibly recommend it to anyone who isn’t a masochist for this type of thing.

Best song: I couldn’t tell you.


3 out of 10 stars


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