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After an excessive hiatus of more than a decade, Hades (Almighty) have returned and two of the three new songs are simply fascinating, inter alia because they reanimate the old spirit of the band. I would like to take the opportunity to recollect their first two albums under the banner of Hades. I am sure that they still deserve our admiration.
Back in the nineties, the Norwegian hordes were shooting up like mushrooms. Hades were surely inspired by their creative surrounding, but they did not forget to take care for a unique feature. No doubt, Immortal released heavy music, Emperor released heavy music and Gorgoroth released heavy music. However, it was Hades who delivered that incredible extra portion of profound heaviness. The rather slow tempo made it possible, but this was not the only factor. In addition, Hades knew how to work with strong metaphors. "The Dawn of the Dying Sun", already this title spread an intense and sinister aura. The "dawn" symbolized death and the "dying sun" made clear that there would never be any form of new life. Finally, the band created extremely desperate, woeful or melancholic riffs and it goes without saying that lead vocalist Janto sounded like a tortured soul in order to emphasize the effect of the mature guitar work. This approach did not push each and every song to the highest level, but "The Dawn of the Dying Sun" delivered a lot of very exciting material.
"Alone Walkyng" stands in the centre of the album, an excessive number with a very atmospheric beginning. Its majestic appearance leads to the black core of the band's musical understanding, although the track is a little bit too long. The following "Crusade of the Underworld Hordes" shows that a more compact configuration can be helpful. Just like "Alone Walkyng", it starts with a promising acoustic guitar which has to give way for an ultra-evil assault. This granite block is so heavy-weighted that it surely has the power to shatter your spine. But who wants to live healthily? The song is based on a varied pattern and avoids any signs of boredom successfully, not least because of Janto's evocative vocals. Yet the most compact track is the opening title track itself. While being confronted with the dark overall appearance, its almost fragile main riff sticks in the listener's mind immediately. It shows up again and again, but, nearly tragically, it always melts away quickly, too. In a nutshell, this opener indicates that a fantastic album wants to be consumed.
I may not forget to mention the sluggish yet not lethargic "Awakening of Kings" that begs fervently for the comeback of the northern rulers. This number shows impressively the level of intensity that a slow piece can achieve. Once again, Hades create an appealing contrast between an acoustic guitar and the almost bloodthirsty aura of the electric guitars. The slightly unclean, yet very dense mix underlines this approach and, of course, the remaining songs also profit from this sound. Well, the tracks that I have not mentioned so far have to take their seats in the second row. Moreover, one can debate the necessity of the soft intermezzo ("The Red Sun Mocks My Sadness"), but I don't think that such a discussion leads to reasonable results. It makes more sense to the look at the big picture. While doing so, it becomes clear that the Norwegian darkness has taken possession of the four musicians. In addition, there can be no doubt that these guys are worthy representatives of their home region, because "The Dawn of the Dying Sun", equipped with an excellent artwork, combines strong compositions with an expressive staging. Viking elements and black metal components go hand in hand. Only one thing bothers me: I am sorry for lowering the average rating, because the second album of Hades was and is a really formidable work.
By 1997 black metal had already entered what one might call its superlative phase; chasing the fastest, the most extreme, the strangest and most pompous seemed to be the scene’s spirit at the time. Emperor had disappeared up their own collective behinds with their ‘symphonic black metal arse’ on Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk, Gorgoroth had delivered their most vicious, fastest and most thrash influenced album, Sigh had delivered their weirdest album yet – as had Enslaved, which also was to be a portent of things to come – and Immortal had already opened the gates for extremely blast-heavy which Marduk would soon adopt in lieu of their previous, more varied take on black metal. Hell, even the outsider difficult-to-box weirdos, Sabbat, had released their longest and most striking album yet in The Dwelling the year before.
So, where does this leave Hades? Certainly they’re not the most anything. There’s no storming up-tempo sections on this album, they’re not trying to push the black metal into a new area. The material here is largely mid-paced, epic and reflective. Folky but not for folk’s sake. Keyboards are used, but sparingly as there’s certainly no overbearing symphonic elements here. In fact, the band that sound the closest to Hades at this time are Aeternus, whose sound bears some resemblance to Hades’s. But even then, Aeternus are probably a more striking band, initially, at least, with their grandiose triumphant atmospheres and thick, bludgeoning sound that is somewhat unusual in black metal (especially in its Norwegian variety). Still, Hades have a unique – albeit understated – and incredible take on black metal and their main strength is a quite simple: they write fantastic, engaging songs.
Songwriting alone is actually quite a difficult thing to promote a band on; when you first hear about, say, Sigh or Emperor their writing is probably not the first thing that people mention. Even when a neophyte is introduced to, say, Burzum or Mayhem it’s not going to be the songs that he or she hears about first (Hades have their own black-metal-paperback backstory, which definitely contributed to this album’s long gestation period, but I won’t be going into that here). Certainly, a label’s press release probably won’t mention how good a band’s actual song-writing is if they’ve got several other angles to comment on first (usually, one might assume, using superlatives “the most cavernous caverncore album you’ll hear all year…” for example). It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that Hades are sometimes lost among the shuffle of other more prominent acts (I won’t say “notable” here as there’s some much more popular acts whose actual music isn’t all that notable, right, Satyr?).
So, what we have here is a frankly unique and excellently written take on black metal. The album adopts a stomping mid-pace that it seldom, if ever, breaks (it sometimes slows down, but it never really picks-up that much). This is not really “blizzards” music, it seems that the snow and ice have thawed and there’s fire in the band’s veins; they’re full of white hot rage. The drums are thoroughly excellent and I can’t think of many black metal albums whose percussion sounds so convincingly pounding, as if they were urging ancient warriors into one final battle. Remi Andersen’s fills are excellent, too, never showy but always interesting. Simply a consummate drum performance, if I’ve ever heard one… I really wish there were more drummers and sounds like this in metal; masterful, yet understated. The guitars, too, are wonderful; sometimes they sound as if they’ve transposed folk melodies to the overdriven guitars (think of ‘Awakening of the Kings’ and its grandiose main riff), but it never sounds out of place. Some of the melodies sound as if they could have been written hundreds of years prior, despite their late 1990s date. If black metal has always been a somewhat backwards looking genre, then Hades are triumphant (or is that ‘almighty’?) in this respect. When listening to this record you can really tell that the band had a lot of time on their hands to put this record together. Perhaps in this respect it can be said that the Norwegian prison system did the band a world of good, as this is certainly a much more memorable record than Again Shall Be. In fact, Hades are probably the only example of a band who fared better in their post-prison era.
I think it’s really a shame that this album isn’t better appreciated by metal fans. I’d say it holds its own bloody ground against nigh-on every black metal band you could mention. Sure, it might not be the absolute best black metal album to ever grace my ears, but then that would be a superlative, wouldn’t it?
“…Gathered are they… the wolves from the North”
I’m listening to “Dawn of the Dying Sun” and I have two things to say in the beginning. First is that this album is simply a killer follower to “…Again Shall Be”, which was Hades’ classic debut LP. I still think that “…Again…” belongs to the most important Norwegian black metal albums from the early 90’s. Secondly, I am frustrated, because I have the original vinyl version of “Dawn of the Dying Sun” released by Full Moon Productions and this LP simply sucks, speaking of the pressing quality! Not only the whole stuff looks poor (no insert, no lyrics, etc), but the vinyl sounds simply bad. There are some disturbing noises in three songs, which almost ruin the whole album! Not only the vinyl itself sounds quite mediocre, speaking of the sound quality, but it also has that static noise! Can it be worse? Shame, as I said. Of corpse there was also a second press LP, released by Witching Hour, as a double LP with some bonus tracks, but I never bought it, when it was available, so now I am left with this shitty LP from Full Moon Prods. Damn, I know “Dawn of the Dying Sun” also from CD and it sounded way better than on this old vinyl. So, lesson to learn: get Witching Hour LP version asap and then waste this Full Moon version.
Great shame that there are all these problems with LP, more so because “Dawn of the Dying Sun” is such an awesome album and it surely equals “…Again Shall Be”. Musically it is a rightful continuation of the debut LP, so again Hades hits us with their blend of rough and obscure black metal spiced with the epic and monumental playing and almost majestic atmosphere, with their Viking themed music. In many ways “Dawn of the Dying Sun” feels even more bombastic, more monumental to the debut, and that is probably because firstly it is completely devoid of any faster parts and secondly these riffs here are simply crushing and barbaric. Plus the production, which is so unlike to ANY OTHER ALBUM (!!!) you’ve ever heard before and after. Yes! “Dawn of the Dying Sun” has truly outstanding but also unique, very dirty sound quality and it may take you a while to get use to it, but once you do then it will only unveil some truly excellent songs. And to describe the album with one sentence, I would call it incredibly harsh and raw, monumental Viking / black metal. Epic masterpiece. It is obscure, slow, but aggressive… it has great majestic feeling and more so, it also is quite melodic in some parts. Two tracks are my real favourites: “Awakening of Kings” and “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes”. The first one is a real killer, maybe even Hades’ best song ever, with truly outstanding riffing, which is accompanied by nice acoustic background (I simply love how this song begins!) and awesome harsh, sick vocals of Janto… This song sounds just spectacular, has such an amazing atmosphere and is nothing more, but a greatest hymn to the North! And “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes” is the first song I heard from this album on a compilation CD back in 1997 and it is definitely the most aggressive, most powerful track here, these riffs in it are so damn heavy, so massive, but still very memorable.
I mentioned two songs, but to be honest I think that the whole album is just flawless and Hades once more recorded simply perfect album. I can mention some more killers: “Pagan Prayer”, “Alone Walkyng”, the title song… “Apocalyptic Prophecies (The Sign of Hades)” (with some really great parts of keyboards!)… There’s a strong influence of Bathory through the whole album, but the style of Hades has been taken way further, into more obscure and heavy territories. It’s like a combination of Bathory, Enslaved, Aeternus, Immortal first album, but different anyway. And we could discuss long why is this album so underrated… I feel like it is almost forgotten! If anyone mentions Hades, then it’s because of their demo and “…Again Shall Be”, not because of “Dawn of the Dying Sun”. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is truly superb release and one of my favourite Norwegian black metal albums of all time.
Standout tracks: “Awakening of Kings”, “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes”, “Pagan Prayer”, “Alone Walkyng”, “Apocalyptic Prophecies (The Sign of Hades)”
Final rate: 90/100
After three years from their great debut album …Again Shall Be, these Norwegian masters of raw Viking black metal released another excellent effort that can be easily considered as a milestone for the genre and their best album ever. If the debut was already very good, it’s with this one that Hades really reached their peak in creativity and goodness. This album is necessary if you want to discover the true early raw black/Viking metal because this band is unmatchable for obscurity and epicism. This The Dawn Of The Dying Sun album is a real milestone for everyone and a gem that must be re-discovered and appreciated once again.
Our journey begins with one of the fastest songs here, the title track. This song is the classic example of heaviness, obscurity mixed together with a massive dosage of epic influences on the guitars’ arpeggios. The bass drum is quite fast but, as you know, Hades never pointed on the sheer speed, preferring a more doom approach. The tempo is never so fast on this CD and all has been made to be as heavy and doom as possible. The black metal screams are always evil and somehow more suffered than the ones by other black metal acts at the time.
It’s amazing how it’s simple for a song like “Awakening of Kings” to transmit such emotions through simple but evocative epic passages that start with the bass to end in the ones by the guitars. Like in the past, the use of the acoustic guitar sound under the powerful and black carpet by the electric one is the winning point to create such good atmospheres. This great mix and opposition is perfect. The tempo is constantly changing but the main word is obscurity and they really point on creating apocalyptic but somehow melodic parts.
“Apocalyptic Prophecies” is far better when the keyboards enter in the middle while the other parts are a bit too generic but it’s not so important. In those parts, anyway, the black component is heavier and it achieved the goal of bringing more darkness to an already pitch black sound.
Finally, we arrive to the real masterpiece of this album. “Alone Walkyng” is the real hymn to the epic melodies alternated to raging black metal parts. The acoustic arpeggio is a little piece of history in this genre as well as the piercing cries by the singer. The melodic, acoustic parts are simply awesome and the following “Crusade of the Underworld Hordes” follows this path again with more great acoustic parts.
The clean choirs are never gaudy or a bit harmless like the ones by the other Viking acts, but they are almost occult and completely obscure, following the same sound’s direction. “Red Sun Mocks my Sadness” is great for its simple but evocative structure. It consists of flute sounds by a keyboard I think and the epic feeling is always perfectly mixed by the always present burden of sadness, preparing us for the massive “Pagan Prayer”. The guitars are so powerful and majestic in their slow march while the choirs are simply amazing. This tempo is almost ritualistic and the violins inserts are so original and suggestive. It could seem a strange thing but they go perfectly with the rest of the sound.
This album always astonished me and any time I listen to it it’s like a neverending pleasure. These Hades are one of the most underrated and overlooked realities in this field and I recommend this great album to those who wants to brush up their knowledge in this music and discover a truly important piece of music.
From Norway comes this release by Hades. Hades was one of the early Norwegian BM bands, and also one of the bands to take part in the burning of Fantoft Stave Church. Their hatred and contempt for Christianity and the modern world is all over this release which seems to look with longing back to a Barbarian age, this is less Viking metal then Barbarian metal, but there is also a very intellegent and subtle edge to it which helps to make it a more enlivening listening experience, rather then "barbaric" bludgeoning like most bands with that kind of conceptual territory.
The songs are usually with a mid tempo epic beat, with guitars that are played most often with a sense of dignity, less strumming then many bands, although there are some trem picked moments. The bass is present yet doesn't really exist too strongly. The vocals are buried under the massive amounts of guitars, but are very effective, reminding me much of Kanwulf's vocals in Nargaroth.
There is a lot of use of acoustic guitars, which sounds really good, and gives it a very atmospheric feeling. One can tell the biggest influence on this band was the Blood Fire Death album in particular the songs Blood Fire Death and A Fine Day To Die, the way the acoustic breakdowns sound and occur in the music. However they do go beyond their influences to create a very original sound.
If you like Enslaved's old cds but want something more atmospheric and a bit more darker then pick up this cd, it's hard not to recommend it, every about it is really good, and very medieval/barbaric feeling. Check it out.
Ever wondered how Immortal covering Viking-era Bathory would sound? Well, Hades (yes, Hades, this album was released before that piss-poor "other" Hades decided to make a comeback) provides a fairly good answer with The Dawn Of The Dying Sun. This is quite simply one of the most epic, atmospheric, complete albums i've ever heard. The music rumbles along at a leisurely pace, never picking up above a majestic canter, but of course, these guys don't need speed to impress. Instead, they crush you with loping, striding folk-laden riffs, flawless bass playing that weaves in and out of the music, pounding drums and half-buried tormented vocal screams.
The opening title track is quite short, and acts more as an intro to the majestic "Awakening of Kings", which is something of a tour-de-force. The third track then introduces more of a measured, ambient feeling complete with eerie synth infusions, before the epic reworking of "Alone Walkyng" (originally the title track of the demo tape) crushes all in it's path. This 10:28 alone is worth the purchase price of the CD. The next few songs are more of the same - this isn't really an album where any particular songs stand out, it's more of a constant wave of atmospheric brillance. The sole letup is track 7, "The Red Sun Mocks My Sadness", which is a brief, melancholic flute instrumental, which provides a momentary passage of calm before the final onslaught of "Pagan Prayer" finishes the job of crushing the listener into rubble... the song just keeps getting heavier and heavier, seemingly threatening to crush your ribcage, before suddenly erupting into a flourish of fiddles and violins, which sear through a few bars before peaking and.... end.
Perfect album? I don't think there's any such thing, to be honest... but this is very, VERY close.