Genre: black thrash
I think that black metal is a fascinating genre. I do not alway understand all of its aspects, I admit, but I find its development into a bunch of different subgenres interesting, and there are several things about it that attract me. That being said, my favorite type of black metal is probably that which retains a good portion of thrash and speed metal, which probably owes to my fondness of the likes of Celtic Frost.
Flame's "March into the Firelands" is one of those albums that balance black metal and thrash metal and thus one of those black-oriented albums that have a considerable appeal to me. Although the black metal element (in the form of some blastbeats and a reverb-paced production) comes across more prevalent on the music on this album than with other black thrash releases, it does not take many listens to realize that Flame actually, musically, leans more towards thrash metal. There are several thrashy riffs on the album, some of which could easily have been played by a Bay area thrash metal band, while other riffs are more akin to European thrash metal. The thrash and speed elements are wrapped in black metal attitude and intensity, with the harsh vocals ensuring that "Flame" do not alienate black metal fans on this album. 'Burning Horror' and 'Rites of Endless Hatred' is a particularly good example of Flame's way of integrating black, thrash and speed metal, as is 'Fireland' which features a number of references to the mighty Teutonic thrash metal tradition of European metal.
Emphasizing expression over production, Flame's "March into the Firelands" might not be an immediate hit with those whose ears are used to today's polished productions in modern metal. However, once your ears have attuned to the crunchy and fuzzy guitar sound and the omnipresent reverb, you should be able to appreciate the aggressive thrashy music that forms the core of this album.
While it took me some listens to get attuned to this album, once it clicked with me, it definitely clicked. I really like the thrash-speed-black combo attack that "March Into the Firelands" launches at the listener. Riff loving fans of Immortal's later releases in particular are likely to also appreciate this album, and any fan of black thrash should definitely check it out.