Simply put, this album is perfect. Now, “perfect” is not an adjective I use with an frequency, especially when it comes to music. I am very picky, and can usually find a flaw somewhere, even in my favorite albums. But not this one. I can honestly say, every note, every syllable, every second of every track on this album is done to perfection. In my opinion, Satyricon never topped this release. It is epic, majestic, and beautiful, while at the same time as brutally visceral as you could want. Satyr gave his best vocal performance here, and it is very chilling indeed. The riffs and melodies are very cold and wintry, as well as dark and, well, medieval! Frost gives an excellent drum performance, and shows us the brilliant drummer we all know he is. This album is so ridiculously full of atmosphere, it makes even Darkthrone seem sterile. There is a generous use of acoustic guitars on this release, and I think they are even more artistic and well-used than even the acoustic parts on “Blood Fire Death.” There is a light sprinkling of keyboards on this release, generally in the form of ambient soundscapes or wind-sounding effects, but they by no means overpower any of the other instruments (think “In the Nightside Eclipse” instead of “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk.”)And flutes! There are flutes used on two tracks on this album, and they fit perfectly. Especially on the title track, perhaps my favorite song of all time. It begins with about 2:30 of harsh black metal, then goes into an acoustic passage, and then more black metal, and then another acoustic passage, where the flute shows up for the first time, and presents us with a very folk-ish medieval solo. Then more black metal, and another flute/acoustic passage, then a last black metal passage. Finally, to close the song there is a return of the flute, playing a very simple, yet effective, medieval melody. Astounding! Certainly this album should be in the collections of all who call themselves fans of black metal or folk metal, as it is a brilliant album. Also check out their second release, “The Shadowthrone” which is also perfect, though i slightly prefer this one.