85. Darkthrone, 'Transilvanian Hunger' (1994)
To the ears of Darkthrone's Fenriz, who performed the guitar, bass and drums on the group's fourth LP, Transilvanian Hunger, the record is "die-hard monotony." "It's for those who are really fucked up," he told Decibel in 2009, "'cause there's not really any entertainment there." But there's a depth to the LP, which also features the growls of his bandmate, frontman Nocturno Culto. Fenriz built its atmosphere with cold, almost classical riffs, played through fuzzy distortion, at a constant, methodical mid-tempo, giving it a hypnotic quality. The paper-thin production, shredded by Fenriz's youthful inexperience and low-quality equipment (he recorded it on a 4-track in the band's own studio) makes it so the guitars sound tinny, the drums muffled, as if under frozen soil, and the bass is an elusive question mark. Transilvanian Hunger's raw, slapdash aesthetic subsequently served as ground zero for a legion of black-metal bands who copied the record's lo-fi approach, aiming to sound "grim." But the LP also courted controversy. Convicted murderer and Burzum frontman Varg Vikernes contributed some lyrics and cast a shadow over the record, which also initially bore the slogan "Norsk Arisk Black Metal" ("Norwegian Aryan black metal") before pressure from distributors led to its removal; the band later disavowed their earlier statements, calling them "disgusting." Conversation about the album has since reverted to being about the music. "Transilvanian Hunger [is] so fucking cold," Fenriz said in another interview. "The sound was fucking perfect." K.K.