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What I always loved of Hades from Norway is their approach to the Viking/black metal. Before changing into Hades Almighty, their style was great for this reason: they were always able to mix perfectly the most epic and obscure influences with a raw form of black metal. Yes, black metal. So, if you’re into the harmless and annoying symphonic/epic/Viking Finnish bands, stay away for this because it’s too black metal oriented in the production and sounds.
They were heavily influenced by Bathory in the period between “Under The sign of the Black Mark” and "Hammerheart”. So, already form here we can understand that they are not into sugary, boring, fantasy melodies. We have no flutes, medieval instruments or feasting noises…the main point is to create epic but obscure melodies. The guitars and few keyboards are the maximum expression of their sound. Everything is quite bare-bone, musically talking and it’s great just like that.
For example, check the introduction to “Pagan Triumph” were the drums rolls and few Viking chorus, united to the guitars, are enough to recreate the perfect epic atmosphere with always the gloom side in evidence. The same can be said for the following “Hecate (Queen Of Hades)”. The tempo in these songs is never too fast and the maximum speed can be referred to the bass drum, that anyway, is never too monotonous and on the same patterns.
The guitars are always great for their work. They are the most important element in this sound I believe. The technique is the open chord one to create landscapes of darkness and epic visions at the same time. There are several parts on arpeggio, both on the acoustic and electric guitars. For this check the great and essential ones in “Glorious Again the Northland Shall Become”. The atmosphere is cold and epic like never before. The track that differs the most is “The Ecstasy of an Astral Journey” because hides inside a lot of apocalyptic melodies that would have arisen with “Millennium Nocturne” album. Also the lyrics are different as you can see.
The few keys on the title track or the ones spread all over the album are prefect to support the dramatic and dark sound. Check “The Spirit of an Ancient Past” for this. The few fast tempo parts are never on pure up tempo or blast beats and I believe it’s better to not cover the beautiful sound with unnecessary aggression. The vocals are again heavily influenced by Bathory but there is also a great component from the Immortal’s debut album. By the way, even Immortal in the beginning were influenced by Bathory.
The bass sound is truly audible because it has a really strong distortion that adds more obscurity and heaviness to the several down tempo parts on this album. The melodic arpeggios supported by the electric guitars of “Be-Witched” and the instrumental, dark “In The Moonless Sky” are the final seals to this great album of pagan black metal. It’s recommended to the lovers of not fast black metal with epic, essential melodies. I’d like to recommend this album also to those who use to listen to modern “Viking metal”, just to have an idea of what the real “black Viking metal” was. It’s a good occasion to go back to the roots of a genre.