By virtue of his example and advocacy, Darkthrone’s Fenriz has inspired others to appreciate the beauty of nature. He’s written about Norway’s forests, ecology, camping, and even shared his passion on national television. This year, Inferno Fest is actually advertising hiking tours with the slogan: “Be more like Fenriz…” My advice: don’t try to emulate others, lest you become a poser.
Fortunately, the great outdoors isn’t the way it’s portrayed by hippies. You’ll encounter rot, decay, and danger. A step into virgin territories is a step into the unknown, especially when your music is so loud that you’re oblivious to your surroundings.
Therefore, we have selected ten grim albums that are sure to bring out your inner beast. Please consider Immortal to already be part of this list. Fun fact: back in the day this classic group, which is now a one-man band, used to scare away blueberry pickers while practicing amidst the trees. How cute!
Tsjuder — Desert Northern Hell (2004)
Tsjuder was founded in 1993 and continues to spread the beautiful plague of True Norwegian Black Metal. Tsjuder’s third studio album, Desert Northern Hell, is a perfect record for when you’re feeling nostalgic. Desert Northern Hell boasts a fantastic cast: Nag, Draugluin, and Anti-Chrisian. Even the cover of this album is pure magic.
Ildjarn — Forest Poetry (1996)
Raw and inhuman, Ildjarn’s Forest Poetry is a wonderful album to help you connect with your natural surroundings. Brutal as this classic record is, in an odd way it makes sense that its creator is a vegan. Ildjarn has expressed his respect for animals, whereas he loathes humans and considers them unworthy of life. That said, he’s apparently a really nice guy! Sadly, this legendary musician and misanthrope retired long ago when his 4-track recorder went kaput.
On a related note, we also recommend Thou Shalt Suffer’s black/death demo Into the Woods of Belial (1991), which features Ildjarn on bass. Thou Shalt Suffer was co-founded by Samoth and Ihsahn. Samoth and Ildjarn actually grew up together and collaborated in other early projects. Both Samoth and Ihsahn have assisted with Ildjarn’s solo material. Obviously, Samoth and Ihsahn are most known for their work in Emperor, with which Ildjarn was briefly involved.
Vlad Tepes and Belkètre — March to the Black Holocaust (1995)
“As beasts, we wander in the hostile forest.
The craving for slaughter leads our steps,
And the wind which blows through branches of dead trees
Bites our souls and fills our minds
With a frosty madness…”
March to the Black Holocaust is a split by Belkètre and Vlad Tepes that some believe to be one of the greatest black metal albums ever made. Belkètre‘s side had previously been released as a demo. The fabled Vlad Tepes was founded in 1993 in Brest France and dissolved in 1996. Belkètre hails from Bergerac and had a similar timeline. However, that project re-emerged in 2014 and unleashed an EP in 2015, Ryan Èvn-a. Both groups were part of Les Légions Noires / The Black Legions. You might know that Mütiilation was also a part of this French black metal circle.
Sort Vokter — Folkloric Necro Metal (1996)
What a gem we have here! Sort Votker’s one and only album, Folkloric Necro Metal, is yet another pick showcasing Ildjarn’s talent. This band also included Ildjarn’s frequent collaborator Nidhogg as well as musicians Tvigygre and Heiinghund. Folkloric Necro Metal was allegedly created under the influence of marijuana, or “trees,” so this pick fits on yet another level. That being said, the more-or-less straightedge Ildjarn obviously could not participate in that aspect of the creative process.
Fimbulwinter — Servants of Sorcery (1994)
Fimbulwinter’s Servants of Sorcery is an especially underrated treasure. It features Necronos; Dimmu Borgir’s Shagrath; Skoll of Ved Buens Ende, Arcturus, Den Saakaldte, and formerly Ulver; as well as session drummer Per Morten Bergseth, who currently plays with Holter. Servants of Sorcery was recorded in 1992 and released as a demo. The 1994 album is just a remaster of that with the addition of a seventh song, “Roaring Hellfire.” Fortunately, Peaceville has included one of its tracks, “Black Metal Storm,” on the two-disc CD version of their 35th anniversary compilation, Dark Side of the Sacred Star.
Setherial — Nord… (1996)
Setherial is Swedish metal done right! Setherial’s magnificent debut record, Nord…, retains every bit of its wicked allure today. Nord… beautifully captures the essence of the genre while bringing you something quite unique. This album was recorded and mixed by Hypocrisy’s Peter Tägtgren, owner of Abyss Studio. Peter actually provided some guest vocals. Nord… was most recently reissued this year by Soulseller Records.
Grenjar — Naar skogen lokker (Demo, 2003)
Trondheim’s Grenjar had a very brief lifespan in the early 2000s. They never released a full-length album, but who knows what might happen should they return. The 34+-minute Naar skogen lokker was Grenjar’s third demo. This material was also released on the split Svart sammensvergelse. Grenjar’s roster included two of the most important voices in Nidrosian black metal — the late legend “Mehimoloth,” a.k.a. Steingrim Torson, and “Kvitrim,” or Eskil Blix. Kvitrim is currently a member of Djevel among other stellar bands. His two albums with Djevel so far, Tanker som rir natten (2021) and Naa skrider natten sort (2022), are also ideal companions for a walk in the forest. The same can be said for much of his other work, all of which is top-notch.
Hellvetic Frost — Misanthropic Devotion (2007)
Ice-cold, evil, and ready to drown you in seas of blood, Hellvetic Frost delivers the refreshing dose of pure hate that most of us black metallers need to fuel our spirits. This elitist band from Lucerne, Switzerland, formed in 2000 and broke up about ten years later. Misanthropic Devotion was their first of just two albums. Prepare to be “Cursed and Damned in the Mist of the Woods.”
Tulus — Pure Black Energy (1996)
Every album by Thomas “Sarke” Bergli and his longtime collaborator Sverre Stockland, a.k.a. “Blodstrup” and “Gard” would be perfect for this list. The two formed Tulus in 1991 and have been making some of the greatest black metal together ever since. Their bass players have changed over the years, but they have been working with Stian M. Kråbøl, or “Crowbel,” an excellent fit, since 2008. Because it’s so difficult to choose just one of their works, we’ll start at the beginning. Pure Black Energy was Tulus’ first full-length album, though the group released three demos prior. The masterful lyrics were crafted by the pen of Blodstrup’s wife, Hilde “Hildr” Nymoen. To this day, Hildr writes the lyrics for both Tulus and Khold, which emerged in 2000 and is currently nominated for a Norwegian Grammy. Hildr was actually the one who came up with the idea for the brilliant cover that you will see below.
Make sure to also check out Sarke’s eponymous “solo” band, which features Nocturno Culto on vocals!
Mork — Den vandrende skygge (2016)
Formed in 2004, Mork is the one-man project of Thomas Eriksen, one of black metal’s most important torchbearers. Eriksen’s decision to “go primitive” was inspired by a visit to the home of his friend Kjell Arne “Hudbreider” Hubred, whose basement served as a rehearsal- and recording place to Darkthrone for quite some time. Immediately after this excursion, Eriksen created Mork’s superb debut, Isebakke (2013). Den vandrende skygge is Mork’s equally stunning sophomore album. Nocturno Culto provided guest vocals in honor of Hudbreider on “Hudbreiderens revir.” Meanwhile, the highly accomplished Freddy Holm contributed Hardanger fiddle to “Den lukkede porten.” The record’s second song, “I sluket av myra,” actually premiered earlier as the title track of Mork’s second EP, which was unleashed in December 2015. After hearing “I sluket av myra,” Fenriz named Mork “Band of the Week.” Although Mork currently incorporates more influences than in the beginning, the music is still completely organic, authentic, and awesome in every respect.
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