Desert Northern Hell
Season of Mist
Norwegian black metal band Tsjuder made a surprise comeback in 2009, and soon released their reunion album Legion Helvete in 2011. Desert Northern Hell was the band’s final release before going on hiatus in 2006, and along with Tsjuder-related project Krypt‘s Preludes to Death, this was easily one of my personal favourite black metal records of all time amongst the numerous releases that the band put out since their formation in the early 90s.
Desert Northern Hell easily encapsulates what true Norwegian black metal should sound like, and right from the start of the album with Malignant Coronation, the band unleashes their uncompromising, relentless brand of music onto the listener. The pace is urgent, the riffs are furious and aggressive as fuck, and one can easily spot classic Norwegian black metal influences over here, reminding one of early material of bands like Mayhem and Gorgoroth. Drummer AntiChristian sets the pace for the record, and for the most part the band goes at breakneck speed, complemented by the equally speedy riff-work of guitarist Draugluin, bringing to mind their compatriots Ragnarok‘s later works. While the lead guitars, like Mayhem, are there to reinforce that cold atmosphere, the numerous guitar solos that could be spotted also display Draugluin’s abilities on his fretboard, not only with the shredding but also with the usage of the whammy bar on songs like Ghoul.
Throughout the album, the band ensures that things do not get stale, as each of the tracks on the album have their own unique sound and characteristic, ensuring that the entire listening experience of Desert Northern Hell remains fresh every time the listener revisits the album. Not everything is just sheer speed though as there are moments where the band take slight slowdowns, and such moments like the intro of Mouth of Madness even bring in some slight resemblance to Marduk‘s slower, but heavier material. Unholy Paragon even sees the band making use of clean instrumentation to reinforce the cold, haunting atmosphere before letting all hell break loose. The epic, 11-minute closer Morbid Lust best displays Tsjuder‘s songwriting abilities, going through an entire spectrum of negativity and musical styles, and till today it leaves me wondering how it is possible for me to sit through the entirety of the track without feeling even a tinge of urge to skip the track.
One thing that certainly helped in the overall experience of Desert Northern Hell is also the production of the album, ensuring that the music sounds huge as fuck, and the listener easily feels as though he is buried under an entire wall of sound.
As if the original material on Desert Northern Hell weren’t good enough to completely captivate the listener, the 2013 reissue by Season of Mist includes four bonus live tracks from a 2001 recording, displaying the band’s live blasphemous onslaught. While not exactly some of the best live black metal recordings, it easily encapsulates the mood and raw energy of the band’s performance, retaining the sense of authenticity in the recording, and even on the live tracks, the band has certainly stuck true to their motto of “no compromise”.
Oh, and not forgetting that excellent cover of Bathory‘s Sacrifice. Instant classic.
More related articles about Tsjuder here.