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Yes, this became more atmospheric and spacious, with something Bathory had not been known for previously--dynamics!--but DAMN, is this an incredible album! It features better production and musicianship than previous efforts, and you can even hear the bass here and there, a trashy distorted tone that underlies Quorthon's trademark chainsaw guitar massacre perfectly. The drums are tighter than in the past, too, since it was someone other than Quorthon laying them down (Vvoornth, it was, if I recall rightly). It's still trebly as all hell and thin compared to many releases, but that is part of the old Bathory charm, right?
From his usual ambient intro ("Odin's Ride Over Nordland", a haunting and eerie piece, one of his best) to the slaughterfest of "A Fine Day To Die", the albums starts off strong and doesn't let up. The usual 100mph thrash establishes itself afterward with "The Golden Walls Of Heaven", and the tighter playing makes it even more effective, as is the case with the other fast numbers on here, like "Holocaust" (the countdown near the end of this just builds and builds, and still puts me on the edge of my seat to this day!). But this album saw Quorthon slowing down more and incorporating more subtle (!) elements into his lethal and pioneering black metal mixture, and it was for the better because it enabled much of the metal community to take him more seriously. And the Viking-oriented lyrical content was well-written, not just cheesey Manowar wannabe stuff (no disrespect intended to the Kings of Metal, natch)--though Quorth IS a Manowar fan, now that I think of it. In any event, this was on e of the last really good Bathory albums released before he got it into his head he could actually sing instead of scream like a witch (he's waaay better at the screaming, IMO) and started exploring the more doomy, then more hard rock oriented sounds of his following albums, which lost me a bit. If you can snag this album, by all means do, as it is important to the evolution of Black Metal as we know it today.