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Slow, atmospheric and ominous are three keywords in describing the sound Quorthon achieved on Twilight of the Gods.
This was at one time meant to be the last Bathory album and as hinted by the title there's an overhanging sense of gloom prevalent on nearly all the tracks. But amidst the despair one should rightly experience while listening to an album named after the end of the world lies the epic sound we all know and love from Hammerheart.
The songs are slow, often very repetitive but invariably lead up to majestic passages such as the chorus of Blood and Iron; that very line repeated over and over again.
Those passages are sadly less overwhelming than on Hammerheart and that, coupled with the more sombre atmosphere present here makes Twilight of the Gods the lesser good of the two in my opinion. Make no mistake, this is “viking metal” at its best and a couple elements are actually superior than on its predecessor:
1) Quorthon’s vocals have improved. He’s still pretty far from being a good singer though, but that’s a big part of the charm.
2) The acoustics are godly! Listen to the intro to Blood and Iron (I mention this particular song once more for a good reason: it’s the best on the album) for example, great sense of melody on display here.
The lyrics still focus on vikings, although in a less overt way than on the previous two albums. Productionwise this album is very good compared to most other Bathory releases, allowing all instruments to be heard just fine. The vocals might be a little low in the mix though.
In the end this is nothing but a mandatory purchase for everyone into the more epic, slow side of metal. Everyone else is advised to listen before buying, recommended tracks are Through Blood by Thunder and Blood and Iron although they’re all good. The last song, Hammerheart, is based on Holst’s The Planets with lyrics by Quorthon.