Great works of art, particularly ones regarded as subversive or transgressive, follow a traceable life-cycle over time.
Initially, the offending painting, book, or composition is regarded as an anathema, especially among the bourgeois chattering classes, obsessed as they are with status and self-serving notions of good taste. But if there’s something worthwhile or enduring about the work, it will find a devoted audience among dissidents across the spectrum. Eventually, as the cultural wheel turns, it will gain some cache as an accepted commodity, perhaps one with an “edge” that can serve as a selling point or signifier for its expanding audience. Finally, enough time passes and enough surplus goodwill builds up that the museums, libraries, and academics come calling to place it within a culture’s official pantheon.
And thus that time has come for Darkthrone‘s eternally dark masterpiece, A Blaze in the Northern Sky. The National Library of Norway has included a first-edition print of the album in it’s “Enlightened” exhibition:
“These items represent particular moments in our shared history, telling of great breakthroughs, creative masterpieces and crucial events that have shaped our capacity for expression and our nation.
Among the items presented in the exhibition are Roald Amundsens letter from The South Pole, the script from the world-famous TV-series Skam, voting ballots from the referendum on monarchy in 1905, and Edvard Grieg’s handwritten sheet music for his Piano concerto in A minor.
The National Library of Norway collection includes a large proportion of the material published from the 12th century up until the present day. The collection is our common collective memory, where we find stories of who we are and where we come from. Enlightened is one such story.
The exhibition was opened by His Royal Highness The Crown Prince of Norway on the 27th of February, 2020.”
In a way, it’s unsurprising that Darkthrone would be one of the first of the Norwegian second-wave bands to be honored at such a high level. First of all, in terms of quality, the triad of their second, third and fourth albums are virtually unmatched in black metal history. And, as one of the bands least involved in the crimes committed by the Black Circle, the mention of Darkthrone doesn’t conjure up the images of arson and murder that other bands might.
Here’s a brief clip of Fenriz being Fenriz and talking about the album:
And here’s a longer interview with the more subdued Nocturno Culto, sipping beer as he describes the making of the album in detail and what it means to be honored at a national level: