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Say what you will. This album is nothing more (or less) than a polished continuation of Hammerheart. Songs on this album could have easily fit on the previous effort if it had had the same production, and more important, slightly rawer vocals.
Therein lies the biggest difference. Since ‘Blood, Fire, Death’ Quorthons voice became cleaner and more melodic with each album. Is he stretching it on ‘Twilight of the Gods’? He is, actually. The possibility of enjoying the vocals here is purely a matter of taste. For the fans of more extreme metal his voice is too mainstream here. For those of you who like strong melodic vocalist, his performance is often out of tune and sounds rather forced. You cannot argue Quorthons creativity but the performance is debatable.
A real weakspot is the last song which has ‘filler’ or ‘experiment gone wrong’ surrounding it all the time. The song ‘Hammerheart’ is an old orchestral piece over which Quorthon has decided to sing. The idea of course is really great and would it have been a great vocalist or even a (real) male choir singing, it could have sounded great as well. Quorthons shortcomings as a melodic vocalist however become painfully obvious here. But hey, who can blame the man for trying. Some of his most classic ideas and songs have been the result of experimenting or just doing ‘something’. He can’t be right all the time, right?
Unlike ‘Hammerheart’ this album has a lesser amount of classic songs. Especially the titletrack stand out and the pounding “Blood and Iron”. Especially the spoken words section with the distorted guitars and acoustic guitar on the latter is of such beauty. I cannot imagine a viking metal collection without this mighty song.
However. This majority of the album is still extremely heavy. Turn out your lights, light some candles and put on the album at a high volume. The difference in loudness between the intro and the titletrack is so big, when the drums and distorted guitars finally make their entrance, it’s like a bomb falling into your room. So damn heavy! Don’t forget buy some red wine (or better: Mead) and invite a pale skinned maiden. With this album filling the soundscape and some candles you can make some really heavy love.
The biggest problem with ‘Twilight…’ compared to contempory artists, modern viking Metal bands or other Bathory releases is the simple fact that for some viking Metal fans this album can be a bit too polished and not ‘dark’ enough and for the more melodic minded folks still a bit too much on the heavy side of metal with, as said, vocal weaknesses. If you’re really into Bathory however you’ll feel this album is just another great one and slightly less trendsetting or classic as its predecessors.