Tsjuder - Desert Northern Hell
Season Of Mist
Raw Black Metal
9 songs (49'33")
Release year: 2004
Season Of Mist
Reviewed by Alex

Black and white album cover, lit torches, Viking font, three guys with faces covered with corps paint. You are only allowed one guess to speculate on the genre. If you didn’t say Norwegian Black Metal, you are on the wrong webpage. Tsjuder looks the part on Desert Northern Hell album cover and largely delivers the art based on the image.

I have first come across Tsjuder while doing web research for Ragnarok Blackdoor Miracle. Ragnarok drummer Jontho was once in Tsjuder and the webpage contained a crossrefence. I made myself a mental note to check these guys out, but never got around to it. Then Desert Northern Hell showed up.

Turns out Tsjuder has quite a bit of cult followers, this is the band’s third officially released album after a number of demos, and the first with “just above underground” Season of Mist label. The band core is made of Nag (bass/vocals) and Draugluin (guitar) with the revolving drummer stool now occupied by Anti-Christian marking his second tour with Tsjuder.

So that there is no confusion the CD’s backside says “No synthesizers, no female vocals, no fucking compromises!” You get the message. We are dealing with some True Black Metal here, no symphonic, gothic or otherwise influences. The atmosphere is cold and harsh, very suitable for a Desert and/or Northern environment. Drum blasting is on and speed tremolo picking is in full force. This is raw, to the point of dark blood dripping from this slab of blackness. However, raw in Tsjuder’s case does not mean primitive as the band plays their blastbeats and buzzsaw riffs very precisely. I really liked the fact how Tsjuder synchronizes their guitar/bass jackhammer riffs with drum beats. Combined with guitar distortion this approach produces an atmosphere of controlled madness. Nag’s vocals, more or less a standard rasp, are pushed in the back of the mix creating the impression he is locked in a cave somewhere north of Bergen.

Opener Malignant Coronation is short and brutal. It basically says “if this ain’t your cup of tea change the disc”. The best song on the album (my opinion, of course) comes next. Ghoul has tiny shreds of melody, those synchronized riffs and out-of-nowhere Draugluin’s solo. On many tracks (Ghoul, Possessed, Lord of Swords) Tsjuder uses what I call “circular” riffery. The riffs repeat in a pattern, like a mad dog chasing its own tale, with a sudden resolution and a way out. For “diversity” Mouth of Madness starts slowly building up from the dark headbanging march, as if the chops were AC/DC inspired. Slowly the song builds up into an 8 min epic. Unholy Paragon has a quick acoustic intro and looooong Morbid Lust has some thrash nods. Bathory’s cover of Sacrifice is very noteworthy, the spirit captured, the production crisper and punchier. “Diversity”, though, is a very relative term on Desert Northern Hell as the album really never pretends to be something it isn’t. And the theme is – this is “true” stuff, no deviations.

Very often the argument with power metal is: “This is well played, but not original”. Hey, you know what, it does apply to Tsjuder as well. Early Enslaved (before they went epic, Viking and experimental), early Immortal (before they became a death metal band with the corpse paint on) and even early Dark Funeral have explored the realms Tsjuder calls home. The band feels comfortable, however, in its own skin and more of the same, early 90s Black Metal can be expected from Tsjuder in the future.

Killing Songs :
Ghoul, Sacrifice, Mouth of Madness, Morbid Lust
Alex quoted 81 / 100
Other albums by Tsjuder that we have reviewed:
Tsjuder - Legion Helvete reviewed by Alex and quoted 65 / 100
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