This, my friends, is not pretty, over-produced metal. There is nothing about this album that would endear it to the public at large, no catchy choruses, obvious hooks, or even much in the way of variation. But that’s the point. This is black metal played as nihilistic stream-of-consciousness ambient music, and not surprising, an album held up as a monument of the genre. Hypnotic, minimal riffs repeat and fold back upon themselves only to be quoted later, the drumming is the same punk-based blasting throughout the album, and the vocals sound like mean-spirited chain-smoking demon. There is nothing normative or pretty about the sound, everything is red-lining and raw, a refreshingly unique sound compared to the rampant digitalism and Pro-Tools of modern metal production. All of the musical elements, rudimentary though they are, add up to much more than the sum of their parts. Amidst the seemingly amateurish racket, there are leitmotifs, overarching patterns, and most importantly, a singular vision. The combination of minimalism and lo-fi creates an almost orchestral atmosphere; the albums functions as a self-contained world. Black metal thrives on convincing atmosphere, “Transilvanian Hunger” has this in spades. Darkthrone succeed here because they took the very foundations of extreme rock; namely the incoherent vocals, non-existent production, barely adept guitar and trashcan drums found in everything from garage bands to hardcore to black metal, and created a buzzing, bleak symphony. In many ways, this represents the apex, or at least one of them, or black metal. If you like your metal to be generic, uninspired or mediocre, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you like honest, raw, real metal music, you’ve found it.