Various Artists
Fenriz presents... The Best of Old School Black Metal
/peaceville; 2004/

more info:

On this compilation, don't expect to see some Cradle Of Filth or some Dimmu Borgir. If you are sixteen, dressed in black and if you wear make up when you go outside on Saturdays, don't bother to read more about this compilation. Here, you will only find the first masters of the genre along with the first wave of bands that since have become cult. So, sixteen tracks, featuring only the very best, Burzum, Mayhem, Venom and Bathory to name but a few. I must admit that some of them were totally unknown to me, like Nattefrost and Aura Noir, but the fact is that Fenriz made a good choice to put them here as they deserve to be on this compilation. Before sinking into the abyss of pure Black Metal, I would like to add a little comment about the sound. From times to times, between two songs, there is a shift of sound level that can be a bit boring. Anyway, one good thing is that each band has kept its particular sound, no overdubs here and not a single band sounds over produced. It's raw and that's the way we like it.

The first song is by Blasphemy, "Winds Of The Black Godz", it is an instrumental designed to put you in a suitable mood to appreciate the next fifteen bands coming. It's a good introduction actually.

Second song, "Satanic Lust" by Sarcofago, possesses an amazing guitar riff, played very fast, good voice as well that is most of the time in a low pitch creating thus a peculiar atmosphere.

Third song, Celtic Frost's "Dawn Of Meggido" is in the pure style of Celtic Frost. It's rather slow, compared to the other bands, the voice is not black as Celtic Frost is one of the precursors. Good song anyway.

Then comes one of the band that I didn't know before, Nattefrost with "Sluts Of Hell". The fact is that this song is much akin to another band called Taake, the sound and the voice are pretty much alike and one can feel as well the same violence in the two bands. Listen to the first track of Taake's album "Nattestid" if you want to know what I mean.

Then, Mercyful Fate with the amazing "Evil", covered by Metallica a few years ago. I don't know why, but I really like this song, probably because it's a good song. The singer, King Diamond, is really amazing, from times to times his voice is so high that it gets melted with the guitar. One of the best songs of the compilation.

Track six is Sodom's "Burst Command Til War". Just as Celtic Frost, this is a typical Sodom track, fast and raw, full blast from beginning to the end. I am pretty sure that when Bon Jovi wrote "This Ain't A Love Song" he was thinking about this song in particular.

Seventh song, Tormentor's "Elisabeth Bathory" is rather quiet, the song is more based upon atmosphere than fastness. The drums have a real singular sound, but the song is ok, I really like the break towards the end.

Then comes Aura Noir, the second band I didn't know before, with the song "Blood Unity". The voice is not black, it's more something like Celtic Frost, but it is definitely more violent than Celtic Frost. The guitar riff is really great and they have a pretty good drummer.

Track nine Destruction's "Curse The Gods" has a very raw guitar sound, but these guys know how to pull a good guitar riff, the voice is rather agressive. A good Black Metal song definitely. The guitar solo is amazingly close to those of Metallica.

Track ten, Samael's "Into The Pentagram" is probably the most insane song on the compilation, it's slow and very oppressive, very heavy as well. This is typical slow Black Metal, one would say that this song lacks a bit of blast beat in the middle to keep the listener interested, but honestly the voice is so sick that the song works very well this way.

Eleventh track, Bulldozer's "Whisky Time", probably the only song that is not about death, Satan or Hell. These guys are turned on by whisky, well, fair enough. The sound is very raw, the fact is that the band is more into Heavy than into Black, it's strange to hear such a song in such a compilation, but even Black Metal guys need to pour a glass sometimes, and not only a glass of blood.

Track twelve, all hail Mayhem and its famous "The Freezing Moon" popularised thanks to their live album. Here, we are back to real Black Metal, I mean everything that characterizes a Black Metal band is featured in this song. It goes really fast, the voice seems to come out of a cave, and this song is just amazing, it's really mad, moreover the blast beat which is really insane, definitely one of my favourite songs on the compilation.

Then comes Hellhammer's "The Third Of The Storms". It's difficult to be right after Mayhem, and one can say it was, I think, an error to put this song here. Even if it is quite a good song, it looks a bit weak, as if it lacked something.

Then comes Burzum with its "Ea, Lord Of The Deeps" and its particular sound. The voice is really amazing, it looks like the guy is going to die soon, I really like the music, even if there is no real surprise, except for the great guitar solo. It is surprising to see Burzum here, first because Varg Vikernes has never given any track for a compilation before, and secondly because Mayhem is also featured on this compilation. For the ones who were hibernating during the 90's, I remind you that Varg killed Euronymous, guitarist of Mayhem in 1993, with a knife and an axe if my memory is trustworthy.

Track fifteen, Venom's "Warhead", a typical Venom song with a real good guitar riff, not as good as "Black Metal" but good anyway. One can guess it's Venom from the first seconds.

Last track, Bathory (R.I.P. Quorthon) with the song "Dies Irae". The guy was really ahead of his time, the sound is ok and so is the song. It is one of the fastest songs of the compilation. It's a good choice to end this compilation with Bathory.

Well, just in case you still have not understood, this is a good compilation, if Black Metal is your stuff, go ahead, I don't think you'll be disappointed. No doubt Fenriz has made a great work though it must have been quite difficult to choose the songs and the bands.The end of the compilation is particularly impressive, Mayhem, Burzum, Venom and Bathory almost in a raw, it makes you want to have a little bit more. One would say that the compilation lacks some bands such as Immortal, Marduk or Dark Funeral, so I'm wondering if there's gonna be a second compilation featuring bands from the mid-nineties. Who knows ? It could be cool.

-Dave Rebel

/nov 15th 2004/