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Man, does this album rule. It’s my mystikal kvlt master Kuorthon, in all his over the top and kickass glory! I can’t go as far as saying it’s his best, because finding Bathory’s best album is like finding CoRn’s worst—there are just so many! However, you don’t suffer a stroke while trying to find Quorthon’s magnum opus as much as you would risk yourself when trying to find Jonathan Whinyes shittum faeceus. So, along comes “Twilight of the Gods”, which is just a little bit short of a complete masterpiece.
Overall, though, this is undoubtedly Bathory’s most melodic piece of work. Acoustic guitars (no pointless noodling though!) are found everywhere, and then they suddenly change into distortion, while keeping that same catchy melodic riffing! That’s right, whence Quorthon’s earlier albums were good because they were so brutal and evil and kvlt, everything starting from “Hammerheart”, with the exception of “Requiem” and “Octagon”, is awesome because it’s fun and catchy. Yes, Bathory as a fun, catchy, melodic band, but retaining its overall awesomeness; it’s not very far from being Iron Maiden with silly vocals if you ask me (that’s one huge compliment for Quorthon, really).
Some people might kill me for this, but “Twilight of the Gods” is closer to the power metal spectrum of metalness, than to the Viking/black/other Bathory genres. Beginning with the title track, with its perfect mix of dirty/clean distortion/acoustic intro, then it explodes into a bunch of chords and the titanic (can’t find other words for it) drumming behind. “TA-tatata-TA-tata-TA”, and then the whole thing evolves in an awesome slab of heavy fucking metal with Quorthon’s instantly recognizable voice doing choruses, in such epic fashion that everything including my existence on earth and the universe itself seem to vanish due to the sheer fucking greatness of how that song goes along. Yes, it’s THAT good. Just when you think your head is about to blow up, the verse kicks in, with a vocal melody so out of this world, and every hit of the drums pounds your head like a shovel directly into your skull. Lyrics such as “Holy writings/ hokus-pokus/blaze of glory/ and crucifix/TV-preachers/and dirty tricks” make me think of Helloween for some reason; but leave that to me, I’m way too over ecstatic with this song.
So, some people don’t like the vocals; probably because Quorthon, in a way, can’t do clean vocals for shit. You know what? I don’t give a fuck! I don’t care about how many notes he can hit; if I wanted that I’d listen to “The Sentinel” by Priest. No, what is so great about his voice is the sheer emotion contained within. Matt Barlow? He ain’t got shit over Quorthon, even if he misses the chorus’ notes “It’s the Twilight of the GOOOOOOOODSSS!!” enough for the cats to come join him in; you just feel the passion within the man’s voice. You can feeeeeel the man is clearly struggling, singing his ass off! And that, for me, is much more important than anything else. What’s talent without passion? Quorthon may not have talent for singing, but damn does he try, you can almost take the exact frame where you feel his heart is going to come out his throat…THAT my friends, is what heavy metal is all about (and Aces High).
Soon after that, there are a bunch of even more epic choruses, and it suddenly fades away in a very beautiful melodic passage right at the end; a very brooding, dark, and perfectly fitting acoustic guitar melody. Take notes, countless proggy bands! 13:10 mark, damn me if that’s not emotion, fellows. Can you imagine? That was just the first fucking track, out of 7, and I already feel great! Who needs pot when you have Bathory? There's only one track that sounds a bit forced, like if it's there to make the album longer, and it's "Hammerheart". It's from classical composer Gustav Holst, but it sounds like The Lord of the Rings movie soundtrack or something of the sorts...It's not bad, but you know, this album is so great that having there at the end is ludicrous, because it's nowhere near as epic as...everything else on here.
”…For as long as the grass grows, for as long as the stream flows…”. Next track ahead and it already begins with such a speech! Well, “Through Blood by Thunder” is nowhere near as epic as the title track, and stuff like that holds the album back a lot, if it weren’t for that cool solo at near the end, and “Bond by blood!”. I guess Quorthon knew that if he put fucking “Blood and Iron” after “Twilight of the Gods”, his listeners would have a severe case of the deads, although that would be a great way to die. Really, “Blood and Iron” has the best acoustic intro I have ever heard from a song, maybe there are better ones that I can’t think of right now, because that melody at 1:14 is distracting me with its “Hey! Look at me you moron!” nature. That one alone is packed with more emotion than a bipolar person, but then it explodes a minute later, with a mid-paced, yet headbangable riff! And some seconds after, the melody returns in a great way, before this cool riff comes in; that kind of stuff is where my “Bathory sounds like power metal at times” thesis comes from. My only trouble is that there is not an overtly emotional sounding vocal piece like before, but my feelings change when the acoustic melody makes a final appearance near the end. It’s like hypnosis.
“Blood and Iron” finishes and it leaves you kinda void, but when “Under the Runes” comes, which, if not for the Spinal Tap-folky intro, and Quorthon’s trademark voice, I would almost confuse it for an 80’s W.A.S.P song, or something similar. The main riff has “glam” written all over it, and the snare drum just gives an arena style vibe that I can’t deny; you know, with all the reverb and “tutu-TAAH”…Yeah, that. That’s the ‘bad’ part, if you think there’s anything wrong with the main riff sounding ‘glammish’. The good part though, is that it fucking rules! That guitar lick at 3:32 is especially awesome, with a very cool melody, which then transforms into a majestic solo, and just after that, the vocal melody…Fuck this; it sounds like hair metal, and those last verses near the end make me feel Quorthon’s gonna go “Through L.A’s sunset strip, she’s just 16 but I’ll make her screeaaam…Thank you Detroit! Good Night!!” Just let me find the puffy hair and the makeup; oh how I would make fun of it if it didn’t kick such brutal amounts of ass.
So, it’s Quorthon’s experimentation with lots of acoustic passages, power metal elements, slightly less complex song structures (compared to earlier outputs), and random glam metal thrown in just for the hell of it. Oh yeah, and he writes lyrics about Vikings fighting stuff. It’s like a collage of stuff thrown in that end up making sense, and Quorthon is one hell of a songwriter, making some of the most complex vocal melodies this side of Fates Warning! Everything’s here, catchy songwriting, beautiful acoustic passages, monumental riffing, even more monumental guitar soloing (5:18 mark during “Bond of Blood”), emotional vocals, and Vikings. Do you love it? YESSS YOU DO!! This is one of Bathory’s essential albums, and I guarantee you won’t regret buying it. Unless, you know, you don’t like anything of the stuff I just mentioned; in which case you should stop listening to metal right now and move to something safer, like, I don’t know, knitting?