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Under a Funeral Moon

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Album Review

The second volume in Darkthrone's so-called "unholy trinity" of form- and era-defining black metal albums, 1993's Under a Funeral Moon, built upon the radical career reinvention undertaken on the previous year's A Blaze in the Northern Sky (which followed a straight-up death metal-styled debut), by actually deconstructing the band's sound even further. In what must surely qualify as an historic example of anti-production, the record's songs — already shorter and more focused than those of its epic-filled predecessor — were absolutely buried under disfiguring cobwebs of fuzzy amp distortion that effectively made them sound and feel like third-generation cassette copies…of a demo. The fact that this was all done on purpose by instrumentally adept musicians is the skeleton key to Darkthrone's genius — generally overlooked by outsiders — and explains why there was no shortage of diversity to be found in the songwriting itself, if one could only get past the intentionally prohibitive sonic roadblocks thrown down by Darkthrone's misanthropic personnel. These included the deceptively crude but in truth quite sophisticated riffing and subversive melodic accents to be found on "Natassja in Eternal Sleep," "Crossing the Triangle of Flames," and the multi-faceted title track; the Venom-derived black'n'roll rhythms battling against mercilessly blastbeat-paced numbers like "Summer of the Diabolical Holocaust," "Unholy Black Metal," and "Inn I De Dype Skogens Fabn"; or the stately, mid-period Bathory riffs bringing tenebrous majesty to tracks such as "The Dance of Eternal Shadows" and "To Walk the Infernal Fields." As most informed metal heads will avow, all this makes for nothing less than essential black metal listening, but because Darkthrone made these songs sound so crude — to the point of making them less heavy — many fans have since graded Under a Funeral Moon just a notch beneath its equally influential but slightly more forcefully recorded "unholy trinity" bookends. Also worth mentioning is that Under a Funeral Moon marks the final performance of guitarist Zephyrous, making the following year's Transilvanian Hunger the first Darkthrone album recorded by the ever-present duo of Fenriz and Nocturno Culto.


Formed: Oslo, Norway

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Of all the major second wave black metal bands to emerge from Norway's fertile breeding grounds during the early 1990s, only a handful -- Mayhem, Emperor, Enslaved, Ulver -- have achieved the same exalted status and world-wide recognition as the legendary Darkthrone; and arguably none has been as consistent or prolific in the decades that followed. Unlike the majority of their peers, Darkthrone largely refused to tinker with their refreshingly straightforward and savage black metal formula once it...
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Under a Funeral Moon, Darkthrone
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