"Fenriz Presents: The Best of Old School Black Metal (Peaceville; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

A track-by-track critique of this compilation seems to be the only way to go so ... without further ado:

Blasphemy's "Winds Of The Black Godz" serves as a mood setting piece appropriate for this compilation, but probably not a great indication of Blasphemy's true sound.

Sarcofago's "Satanic Lust" from the classic "I.N.R.I." disc shows how quickly this Brazilian band picked up on the Norwegian raw black metal style.

Celtic Frost's "Dawn Of Meggido" is a classic track from the classic album "To Mega Therion." Again, Switzerland's Celtic Frost represented the 'feeling' of black metal more than what is thought of as being traditional black metal. Regardless, "Dawn Of Meggido" is a great inclusion.

Nattefrost's "Sluts Of Hell" is an early recording from the Carpathian Forest frontman. "Sluts Of Hell" surely sounds like what the majority of metal fans hear in their heads when they think of black metal raw, primitive, and relentless.

Mercyful Fate's "Evil" is more of a power metal, thrash metal track but one might guess that Fenriz was thinking along the lines that Mercyful Fate's subject matter has a lot in common with black metal source material. Regardless, "Evil" sticks out like a sore thumb.

Sodom's "Burst Command 'til War" is Germany's entrant to the black metal sweepstakes. Sounding more like a speed metal band a la Slayer "Burst Command 'til War" has the relentless gallop that is typically heard in black metal.

Tormentor's "Elisabeth Bathory" has more of a cinematic scope and this is not to be unexpected as the track's namesake is often referred to as the female Dracula as she would kill young women then bathe in their blood in the hopes that it would keep her looking young.

Aura Noir's "Blood Unity" shows you what happens when Norwegian thrash metal musicians decide to form a supergroup centered around black metal. The result is a rather aggressive form of black metal that has more instant appeal than you think it would.

Destruction's "Curse The Gods" is a fertile reminder of how important these German thrashers were to the metal scene back in the day regardless of the genre. The fast pacing of "Curse The Gods" is a perfect introduction to the broad impact of black metal without sounding the least bit like stereotypical black metal.

Samael's "Into The Pentagram" has the sort of mysterious howls that makes black metal so infamous. Samael changed a lot over the years, but "Into The Pentagram" is a perfect track to showcase the band's early blackened incarnation.

Bulldozer's "Whisky Time" is slightly weird as it sounds like a Southern hard rock band mimicking the early black metal days but still singing about alcohol instead of grave robbing or church burning.

Mayhem's "The Freezing Moon" is a classic of all black metal classics even more so than the earlier inclusion of Celtic Frost's "Dawn Of Meggido." "The Freezing Moon" features Mayhem at its embryonic best by forging a new genre with this track being a particular highlight of the era.

Hellhammer's "The Third Of The Storms" contains the early work of Celtic Frost's Tom G. Warrior and although very primitive one can hear the early strains of Warrior's work with Celtic Frost struggling to get out.

Burzum's "Ea, Lord Of The Deeps" is the project of Varge Virernes of Mayhem fame while serving time for the murder of his bandmate. "Ea, Lord Of The Deeps" is from Burzum's first album which had more in common with black metal's origins rather than the ambient/electronic bent that Vikernes would use more frequently as his years in the pokey progressed.

Venom is largely credited with 'creating' black metal and "Warhead" place in history is firm despite the inclusion on this compilation. If you read anything about Venom you'd expect a track like "Warhead" to be sheer cacophony, but this is not the case. Surely, "Warhead" is under-produced, poorly executed, and poorly recorded, but it comes across well in the overall guise of this compilation.

The recent death of Bathory's founder Quorthon makes the inclusion of "Dies Irae" even more of an impact. Bathory took off where Venom had left off and with better skills, songs, and production values managed to make the Venom sound a pretty neat idea.

To summarize it must be said that "Fenriz Presents The Best Of Old-School Black Metal" is a solid retrospective of the genre's origins.

"The Best of Old-School Metal" was compiled by Fenriz of Blackthrone.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2005 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Oct 2018 19:54:50 -0400.