I really enjoyed Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, the follow up to this record, because I really had no idea what I getting into, and figured it was just some run of the mill black metal. I am listening to this one after that one because apparently like to do things out of order.
I do not know the state of Black Metal in early 1994 but, from the little I’ve read, it was a little one note. (Shocking, I know.) So this record, and this band, are famous for bringing ambition and increased musical sophistication to this genre – i.e. for inventing Symphonic Black Metal. I have no idea whether or not that’s accurate, but it’s the story I’m familiar with.
As you might expect, this music is not conventional black metal. But there’s a still a lot here in terms of black metal hallmarks. I don’t remember the sequel that much right now, but my review suggests that they went much further with their sound on that record. This record fees a little bit more between two worlds, a black metal one and a vaguely proggy “symphonic one.” But that’s not to disparage it. Far from it. Everything evolves and it’s clear this was just step one along the road for them, from something relatively conventional (and, for some of us, boring), to something bursting with musical ideas which defy genre convention.
The only nitpick I really have is the production: so often I listen to metal records of this era and they let me down in this area. There’s not much of a dynamic to the recording, everything is at the same volume. I am listening to this record on headphones and I can’t feel it like I should feel something this loud and pummeling. That’s disappointing.
But this is still a major landmark in the evolution of a particular genre of metal, to the best of my knowledge. And is nearly an absolute classic.