Darkthrone

Land of Frost

89%
3 reviews

Land of Frost reviews

99%
TheEndIsNigh on March 8th, 2012

Back To The Frostland Basics

I'm a particularly big fan of old school extreme metal demos. Darkthrone's entire demo output is no exception. Their initial demo, Land Of Frost, is one I find, despite the horrible quality, a perfect introduction to their death metal material for those who know the band only for their black metal releases.

Back in that wonderful year of 1988, when death metal and grindcore were both already established quite well, little was known about the bands that were forming in Norway. Among them were Mayhem, who was already established in the country, Burzum was just getting underway, and then there was Darkthrone, a band who had formed the year before. The next year, they would cough up a demo that would spark their amazingly influential career.

The demo kicks off with some static-drenched wind and some kind of monster growling. It then kicks off into a brutal death metal riff, complete with blast beats and demonic vocals that have an atmospheric delay effect to them. And that is just the first song. All the songs are extreme and contain these attributes. It appears Nocturno Culto wasn't even in the band at the time, making drummer Fenriz the only original member on this release, but that doesn't hinder the overall musical quality. Their are some of the most impressive riffs I've ever heard, switching between violent amounts of distortion and eerie clean sounds, and the fact that the song titles and the artwork of the demo cases are seriously awesome is just a bonus. And although the quality is completely wretched, it too, like so many lo-fi releases, adds to the overall heaviness of the demo.

I absolutely adore this release. It's a perfect introduction to the origins of early Norwegian black metal. It's also a reminder that these bands weren't always black metal, with their roots and beginnings buried so deep within death metal. It's also a must-have for anyone interested in the origins of Darkthrone.

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21%
firebee1 on September 22nd, 2008

Demo of Grim

This is another one of those demos. You know, where the sound quality really is just that bad? You know, that kind? I really don't have a good reason to be reviewing this. The truth is, once you've heard two or three of these kinds of demos, you've really heard most of them. Even so, though they're not often any good, going through these really ancient demos by big important bands is fun because you get to hear what they were like at their very youngest. Darkthrone is such a band and Land of Frost is such a demo. This came out in 1988, holy hell. Nocturno Culto wasn't even in the band then, so you know this is one underground son of a bitch.

Of course, that's not what matters. Though it undoubtedly holds a status as kvlt-as-fvck, its musical quality is not on the same level. No big surprise, it's a poorly recorded black metal demo. We've all heard this before, what could be amazing music for all we know if we could hear past the walls of noise. It is worth noting (I think) that this demo has more problems that usual in that it plays around with special effects too much. It's almost cute in a way to look at a band like Darkthrone that today is so behemothic and hear them back in their earliest days employing the use of things like absurd amounts of vocal echo (see title track) or flange for the sake of flange (see Forest of Darkness). Other than that, there's really not much else to say because not much else can be heard. Standard death metal done in Darkthrone fashion (as opposed to Swedish fashion of course) with no real enjoyability to be had from listening to it.

I wasn't expecting much from this, I was just curious what they sounded like way back then. If you share that same curiosity, by all means check it out for yourself. Just don't expect to hear raw incarnations of A Blaze in the Northern Sky or anything.

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89%
CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8 on September 22nd, 2008

Young but already Great

The first Darkthrone demo is one of the very first examples of primitive black metal. In those years any band that wanted to play this genre must look back to bands like Hellhammer and Bathory and so it was for this young band too. Despite being mostly swedish death metal with the first album, here the major influences are from the early black metal. They didn’t know what this demo would have represented in the future and I think they were more worried about having fun at playing this necro stuff. The fact is that now this demo is a true rarity and a almost obligatory stopover to understand the meaning of “true black metal” in the 80s.

The title track is at the beginning and begins with a sort of intro made of scary growls and screams to turn into music with doom passages and fast restarts. The production is not awful, but surely not a good one; everything sounds so cold and primordial but listening carefully each instrument is well audible. The doom passages are still bound to a raw Black Sabbath style, but with a heavier guitar tune and more morbid passages. The vocals are screamed and so echoing. This is the thing that could annoy a bit because the reverb is an obstacle to the music and it’s difficult to hear it well.

The fast parts, like also in “Winds of Triton” are made of fast up-tempo parts and they almost reach the level of blast beats but not yet. Everything is made to be primordial and it’s great like this. Some of the drums beats on the mighty “Forest of Darkness” are echoing too and this time the vocals are truly distorted. Here the Hellhammer influences are truly heavy and evident. The riffage is essential in these songs and more in open chords style, conserving a punk attitude in lots of parts. The atmosphere these young guys (16-17 years old more or less) create it’s unmatchable and who cares if they are not technical or smart. They are Darkthrone and only posers and wankers can criticise them for being impolite.

Fenriz and Zephyrous are great and the following “Odyssey of Freedom” shows some thrash metal passages too, mostly referred to the drums parts and the bass drum. There are always the doom passages but the songs’ structures are always quite catchy even if not too dynamic yet. Actually, some parts seem to be bound together with the glue but the clean arpeggios we can find in each song are truly cold and amazing. They already had the will and the skills to put out primordial and cold pieces of extreme metal. The last “Day of The Dead” is hyper doom. The refrain is one of the sickest things ever at the time while the rest is like a slow march by the instruments with the omnipresent arpeggios and freezing stops where the lead guitars parts are more evident. By the end we can find also amazing and unexpected more melodic and melancholic passages by the guitars.

All in all, this is a very influential release. It doesn’t matter if it’s too raw, too bounded to a certain form of early black/death because at the time that was the genre you had to play to be extreme. This little demo, like the other ones by this band, was very influential for the bands in the northern countries that would have wanted to play heavy stuff in the following years.

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Land of Frost track list

1Land of Frost03:57
2Winds of Triton01:53
3Forest of Darkness04:32
4Odyssey of Freedom03:26
5Day of the Dead05:23

Land of Frost lineup

GylveDrums, Vocals
IvarGuitars
DagBass
AndersGuitars (tracks 2-3, 5)