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Twilight of the Gods - 75%

Iron Wizard, June 15th, 2017

Twilight of the Gods is the successor to the definitive album of Bathory's "Viking era", Hammerheart. Hammerheart was an epic, triumphant album that struck hard as steel, seemingly trying to usher in a new era of Bathory's discography. Unfortunately, it's sequel, Twilight of the Gods is somewhat underwhelming in comparison.

The title track opens the album with a fairly soft, atmospheric theme. At this point, it seems like a less foreboding, premonition inducing version of "Shores in Flames", the track that opened Hammerheart. Then, the choral arrangements, drum machine, and acoustic guitars come in, creating a very repetitive, trance-inducing section. This is where the album already starts to fall back from the high standards of its predecessor. The sound is sort of hard to explain, best described as "washed away". It doesn't carry the distinctive sound of Bathory. Fortunately, this is one of the worst tracks on the album. "Blood and Iron" is a straight up masterpiece, consisting of a beautiful acoustic solo followed by some of Bathory's heaviest, most menacing riffs. Twilight of the Gods is often denounced as the least aggressive Bathory album, and while it may lack intense drumming and harsh vocals, some of these riffs are pretty fucking heavy, creating a "wall of sound" so to speak.

Twilight of the Gods definitely slows things down a bit from what they were before. There is little black metal or thrash metal influence to be found here; instead it has been replaced by doom and power metal, with slower, more melodic riffing. There is also one outlier, "Under the Runes". It sounds very classic in nature, hearkening back to late 70s with its weird new wave riff. Quorthon's now virtually completely clean vocals intensify this aesthetic; he sounds like the singer of a glam metal band like Def Leppard almost. I think that Twilight of the Gods showcases his weakest vocal performance. Technically speaking, Quorthon has never been a "good" singer, being unable to moderate his pitch well, but generally he has compensated for that in his ability to scream powerfully. His softer approach here just makes him sound awkward.

In conclusion, while I don't like saying it, Twilight of the Gods is Bathory's weakest Viking metal album. In all honesty, it used to blow me away, maybe my tastes have matured, or maybe I have just listened to it way too much. Either way, despite it having a few great songs, it is inarguably plagued by inconsistency. It's definitely something a Bathory fan should hear at least once, but if you want a true masterpiece, go with Hammerheart or either of the Nordland albums.