Transilvanian Hunger was the band's first album to be recorded with just two members, Nocturno Culto and Fenriz, following the departure of Zephyrous. The band remains a duo to this day.
Lyrics for four of the album's songs were written by the infamous Norwegian black metal musician Varg Vikernes, who performed solo as Burzum.
The album was released on 14 February 1994. The cover art was a black-and-white photograph of Fenriz with a candelabrum, which bore a likeness to the cover of Mayhem's 1993 live album Live in Leipzig. The back cover stated that "Darkthrone is for all the evil in man" and listed the slogan "True Norwegian Black Metal".
Originally, the back cover also bore the words "Norsk Arisk Black Metal" ("Norwegian Aryan black metal"). Due to negative feedback from many distributors, however, the phrase was removed. The band also intended to issue another controversial statement to mark the album's release: "We would like to state that Transilvanian Hunger stands beyond any criticism. If any man should attempt to criticize this LP, he should be thoroughly patronized for his obviously Jewish behavior." In a press release, Peaceville Records issued both this statement and their own response, berating the sentiment but acknowledging that they could not censor their artists. Darkthrone issued a formal apology at Peaceville's behest. They said they had used "Arisk" to mean "true" or "pure" and that "Jewish" was Norwegian youth slang for "idiotic". Darkthrone included the following statement with their next album, Panzerfaust, the following year: "Darkthrone is certainly not a Nazi band nor a political band. Those of you who still might think so, you can lick Mother Mary's asshole in eternity." More recently, Fenriz disowned these past statements, describing them as "disgusting." He admitted regret and noted that at the time, he was going through a phase of being "angry at several races."
The ending of the song "As Flittermice as Satans Spys" contained a backmasked message; when the voice is played backwards, it utters the phrase "In the name of God, let the churches burn".
In 2003, the album was remastered and reissued by Peaceville, as well as being repackaged in a cardboard digipak. The fourth and final chapter of a four-part video interview (spanning the first four albums) with Fenriz and Nocturno Culto was also included as bonus material.
In an album artwork special edition of Terrorizer magazine, the cover of Transilvanian Hunger was listed as one of the greatest album covers. The magazine regarded it as representative of their "musical regression" ideologies, and as a "stark image of evil that was never quite equalled".