People in underground metal circles usually take pride in the fact that they go to all the extremes to follow, dig up, and listen to obscure and overlooked releases. People making music in underground circles usually release several thousands of albums and demos every year. There is often a lack of access to wide PR activities, or a lack of interest by the bands. All things considered, this leads to either of the following scenarios:
A genuinely good album that will never get majority recognition gains a well-deserved cult following. The artist gets appreciation, the listeners get a new name to drop if it is ever needed to be tested how “true” of a fan they are. In a year or two, people still think of the band highly and hope for new material just as good.
A mediocre album gets overblown interest, turns into a prize token for people to display on social media without any actual musical material to back up the “fame”. The listeners get their “cool points”, the artist enjoys temporary success. In a year or two, the album is long forgotten and replaced by whatever the new product of the next trend is.
A band quietly releases an album that sonically sits somewhere between the influences of Bathory, Nifelheim, Tormentor, Dissection, and Mercyful Fate, which successfully conjures the evil atmosphere of spending a night in an abandoned castle in Transylvania where shadows play mind games to trick you that you will never see the sunrise again while wolves are howling outside. And the album goes completely unnoticed, standing against all modern fads and trends, waiting to be discovered.
Transilvania’s debut full-length The Night of Nights came out early in 2018 and it occupies the sweet spot between the relentless attack of black/thrash metal fusions and the melodic acts of black/heavy metal ones. Following their EP and the 7” split, the full-length has no shortage of the material. Nine songs (two of which had also appeared earlier on their EP Morbid Majesty) of black magic, vampires, and the occult give you more than what you could ask for. With these nine songs and two synth laden intros (for both sides of the album), the album clocks around 48 minutes which is honestly the only thing that might put people off if they are not ready for a black/thrash metal album of this length. With that said, it’s not like album has any weaker songs that would be better off left out. It is simply like two to-the-point melodic black metal EPs (Ante Meridiem and Post Meridiem sides, if you will) combined together. Perhaps an option would be to not re-use two songs from the EP to make the album easier to digest – not that it is necessarily the aim in underground extreme metal anyway.
The melodic and smooth guitar work might sound like a riff that is inspired by 90s medieval black metal of Desaster, and the next moment it is a riff that wouldn’t be out of place on a Mercyful Fate-sounding heavy metal album. Brilliant guitar work is accompanied by ferocious vocals and the occasional howls (over Bedburg). The main riff of the last song of the Ante Meridiem side is very similar to the bouncy intro riff of the first song of the Post Meridiem side. The last moments follow the first the way the moon follows the sun in a perpetual full circle – grabbing you from the first moment, it only leaves you wanting to go back to the castle for another night when it ends.
After two years of being physical-only (which covered all your different physical media needs with the vinyl from Into Dungeons Records, CD from Evil Spell Records, and the tape from Ropes & Bones), Transilvania put both their EP and LP on digital platforms as well. It is just about time that you finally check out one of the best releases of the recent times as their second full-length offering, Of Sleep and Death, is upon us hopefully later this year from Invictus Productions. If they manage to carry on what made the debut very special – the bouncy, twirly riffs which comfortably sit on the thin line between black metal and heavy metal influences – without being repetitive, and perhaps with keeping it more concise this time around; the new album might turn out to be one of the best albums underground metal will have to offer in the foreseeable future.
Favourite song: One Night in Salem