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A Monumental Release - 90%

CannibalCorpse, February 15th, 2007

While I do like Bathory very much, I have to admit that I'm not Quorthon's greatest fan. I enjoy all his Viking metal releases and his black metal ones as well (hell, I even like "Requiem" to an extend), but he rarely released anything I was completely satisfied with. It's not that I found any faults in his music, it just didn't touch me where it should. Don't get me wrong, the man sure was a genius, spawning two entire genres on his own, but I never quite grasped the brilliance (which is undoubtly present).

Things changed with "Twilight of the Idols" though. It might be a calm and restrained album, but it manages to be atmospheric, epic and beautiful while it still pounds your head in with slow, heavy riffage. Quorthon's vocal performance is probably the strongest in his career (only rivalled by the "Nordland" albums), his voice just fits so well into the musical compositions.

The album is filled with sombre acoustics and stomping rhythms. The use of acoustic guitar on this release is fantastic and especially shines in the title track, "Blood and Iron" and "Under the Runes". A few songs contain narrated passages which fit so surprisingly well that you wouldn't want to miss them at all, the drumming is meaty as hell and supports the rhythm section tremendously - the production on here is simply the best that Bathory ever had (including the "Nordland" albums).

Yes, I'd take "Twilight of the Idols" over "Hammerheart" any day. It might not have its bite and hints of aggression, but improved songwriting, better production, better vocals and more atmosphere.

Locating flaws on this album is pretty difficult, but maybe Quorthon's vocals, even though they are very strong overall, do sometimes sound slightly out of tune and too strained (best example - verses of "To Enter Your Mountain") but that is just a minor quibble.

I recommend this to all fans of Viking and Heavy metal. It's an essential listen.

If you're new to Bathory's music, stay away from the releases after this, as a mediocre era began after "Twilight..", but somehow, the late Quorthon managed to recapture the Viking metal spirit in the Nordland albums, but sadly we won't be able to hear what the guy had in mind.