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There is one great issue with this album: You cannot listen to it: Give the album two minutes and you chant along with the battlehymns on this album. Give it another three minutes and that's you fully dressed in the re-enactment kit, a horn of mead in your hand, and a sword in the other; whilst you've just dug out that LEGO Dragonship your parents gave you for your 4th birthday, and you try to balance your 250 lbs (including beer gut) on its tip.
The album clocks in at about 57 minutes for 7 songs - the tremendous length of each of the hymns allowing for plenty of warchanting and pillaging your entire bedroom closet.
It picks of rather quiet, with the waves beating against the shore, with a quiet part the follow it before "Shores in Flames" kicks off and you find yourself toasting to your Germanic ancestors. The fury continues in an epic style through "Valhalla", "Baptised in Fire and Ice" and "Father to Son", until you reach the accoustic "Song to Hall up High", which honors Valfather Odin and is a truly emotional song. "Home of Once Brave" is again a battle hymn highlighted by guitars that make you seem in battle. Finally you reach "One Rode to Asa Bay", which has to be the best song on the album. It starts off with a man galloping through the woods, before you have the main song kicking off, carrying on until you reach the Solo at about 5:30, and then the short accoustic part at about 7:30 until the end - all the time able to sympathise with the suffering of the people under the allegedly not peaceful christianisation of Scandinavia.
To talk of the music itself - the studio is obviously a garage, and the sound quality is not always the best, but quite acceptable. The guitars are heavy and distorted, but their riffling allows enough scope for plenty of epic feeling, which is highlighted by Quorthon's vocals that are sometimes plainly clain, yet sometimes with a raspy touch quite reminding of a vikingr. The songwriting is amazing, and the sporadically used keyboards only add to the truly epic atmosphere, etc etc - so by the time you have finished the album you are put before the haunting choice whether to play it again or to play it again.
Now of course, don't expect this album to be in your possession for too long - you are much more likely to find it abducted by your mates leaving a note that they have borrowed it, on a rather frequent basis.
Although all of Bathory's viking-inspired albums are absolutely great, if you are only going to buy one of them, buy Hammerheart: I've owned it for some years now and there hardly passes a day without listening to it; a true masterpiece that will be such until the end of time; so if you are a fan of the genre (although I know plenty of people who favor other genres who LOVE this album!),it is THE album for you to have.
(review originally written for Amazon.co.uk)