Black metal fans rejoice! Norwegian black metal heavyweights Tsjuder – consisting of Nag (vocals, bass) Draugluin (guitar), & Anti-Christian (drums) – founded in 1993, just last year remade their very first EP release dating back to 1997 ‘Throne of the Goat’ via Season of Mist. When initially unleashed, the classic EP solidified their stance instantaneously amongst the ranks of the scenes formative raw underground black metal legends of the time. The outfit beforehand having only released several demos, said demos being ‘Div gammelt stasj’ (1995), ‘Ved ferdens ende’ (1995), & ‘Possessed’ (1996). Since ‘Throne of the Goat’ Tsjuder have grown their discography with equally as impressive works including another demo followed by multiple full-length albums as well as a compilation & video/live album of ‘Norwegian Apocalypse: Oslo vs Sandnes’ (released 10 years apart). So it seems fitting for the undeniably dedicated group to go back to their roots & bring forth an album consisting of not just a remastered re-lease but have the original tracks include on the new & improved ‘Throne of the Goat’.
The album is sorted into 4 tracks of the reworked tracks followed by 4 of the original but for the sake of making sense I’ve decided to review the album old & new tracks side by side for comparison.
Kicking off the album is the ominous intro titled just that, Intro. The contrast between these tracks is impossible to miss, they’ve got a similar feel to them, chaos, danger, evil, the scattering of irregular drumbeats and screams rising slowly so effectively the hair stands on the back of your neck. Though both tracks give off the same vibe they’ve been executed so very differently when it comes to both sound quality and sonic approach, as expected the re-release version is a little more polished & masterfully made but doesn’t hold a candle to the original recording in regards to the unmistakably raw nature. Both do justice to the band & one another, all differences considered.
The next two I’ll be evaluating are both versions of the album-titled piece of the collection, Throne of the Goat, these don’t different as much in sound as they do in production quality, they’ve tried to stay as true to the original as they can with this with what is really just evidently better equipment at their disposal, the songs are both incredibly crude and absolutely indicative of their ‘true’ black metal origins. Everything about these tracks scream classic old school underground Tsjuder.
We now come to Dying Spirit, holding true to the notion of redoing the songs in a modern image of traditional black metal the track certainly enhances the piece in many ways to be no less scathing or wicked than the 1997 version but certainly more enjoyable for those who may not have been around to appreciate the lo-fi style that the 90s black metal scene held dear. With driving evil tones both tracks could bring even the hardest to please purist to banging their head along with either rendition. With screeches & the timeless tonal quality of the lead guitar only black metallers seem to care to embrace the epoch-obliterating essence of Dying Spirits is one I truly cherish with this album in both the sense of nostalgia & admiration.
Finally we reach the final two additions to the album, aptly named Outro, leaves us with a blanket of eerily unsettling, sinister ambience. A disorienting smattering of whispers and wails accompanied by a slow steady drum beat artfully made to make you want to look over your shoulder, an effect certainly perfected with the re-release though equally as harrowing as the original what with it’s disconcerting string-work & low hum leading you to believe whatever nefarious presence was near may not have left, this is the perfect end to the perfect side by side analysis and appreciation album.
I’m glad they decided not to tweak too much of the album as it was a fine representation of differing eras of sound within the same genre. I commend their ability to shine a demonstrative light on the progression of raw black metal in the last 20 years through the eyes of those in the early scene whilst preserving it so well, the ’97 versions show a very stark example of the heart of the black metal sound during the formative years where the re-released versions are not so different in quality& polish than bands you’d find being created in the last few years alone. I feel like it’s important to remind people black metal is not dying nor has it become obsolete because it isn’t the late 80s or early 90s anymore. It is merely evolving, in SO many ways, including as this re-release demonstrates ways that don’t sacrifice the initial intent or aura of the genre. Of course there will always be a place in our hearts for what was but it is so important to remember that so much more music is being created everyday by people just as dedicated to black metal and everything that comes with it. I absolute loved reliving this album both in its original form & reworked, I highly suggest giving it a listen if you haven’t already as it’s certainly an interesting experience at the least.
Purchase ‘Throne Of The Goat (1997 – 2017) via Season of Mist HERE.