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Quorthon's magnum opus. - 100%

MC Guire, August 31st, 2017

I’m just going to cut to the chase: Twilight of the Gods is literally the greatest thing in the history of anything ever. It is an incredible front to back masterpiece, with every song in its place and every song having something to offer. It is one of metal’s finest albums, the pinnacle of what viking metal has to offer, and finally, the greatest Bathory album of all time. What makes this album so great? Is it the best vocal performance Quorthon ever gave? The complex yet driving songwriting? The immensely immersive amount of atmosphere? The production? The inspiring and poetic lyrics? Well, yes to all of those. However, it’s the sum of those things that makes this album truly a masterpiece: emotion. Emotion is a fantastic gauge of quality. While bad music makes you feel nothing and good music can make you feel familiar emotions, great music is able to make you feel something you’ve never felt before. The artist can do whatever the hell he wants to your emotions.

This is the entirety of the ride through Twilight Of The Gods. Quorthon spans a number of different emotions here. He strikes fear in Song of Blood, and then proceeds to inspire courage in the very same song. Through Blood By Thunder instills an almost religious fervor, and Under The Runes a solemn fearlessness. Blood And Iron gives the listener an overwhelming sense of awestruck at it’s epic tale, while the titanic title track is a tragic lamentation at the state of society that truly pulls at the heartstrings. To Enter Your Mountain summons a feeling of righteous defiance as well as a lifelike sense of adventure. Finally, Hammerheart gives the listener that unique sense of satisfaction that you only get on your deathbed while you see the Valkyries coming to take you away to the Hall up High. All of this together creates one of the most effective and believably epic, beautiful and inspiring listening experiences of all time.

Sonically and lyrically, it’s rather different from the other four of it’s kind in Bathory’s catalog. The entire album has this incredibly unique spiritual quality, which is remarkably sincere and authentic. The album has greater use of acoustic guitars and choirs, giving the album an almost religious sound. The viking religion of course. The entire album is mid-tempo as well, which ends up making it feel less like a metal album, which is actually key to this album’s greatness. Quorthon’s vocals are one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle. He actually became a good singer, while his incredible delivery from this album's predecessor remains. The result is an extremely impassioned performance with remarkable conviction, and a great singing voice. It’s this vocal performance, Quorthon’s best to date, that strongly contributes to the album’s unique sound. Rather than being raw and haphazard like Hammerheart and the Nordlands, or sharp like Blood On Ice, Twilight Of The Gods is gentle to the touch and forgiving, but very firm and robust underneath. It’s the softest Bathory album, with it’s acoustic guitars and strong sense of melody, but heavy and complex all the same, with hints of technicality and many a hard-hitting riff.

If nothing else, this album just has some damn good songs. Twilight of the Gods is a 14-minute epic with quite possibly the best use of choirs in all of metal, with a constantly building atmosphere that gives me chills every time I hear it. Through Blood By Thunder is a fantastic feel-good anthem of sorts, while Blood and Iron is a ballsy 10 minute epic with storytelling lyrics. Under The Runes is incredibly bad ass, and is oftentimes the favorite of people who don't like this album. To Enter Your Mountain is incredibly catchy, while Song Of Blood is the darkest, heaviest and most ominous song from this era of Bathory. Finally, Hammerheart is an incredibly beautiful and heart-wrenching ballad based off of Gustav Holst's Jupiter, The Bringer Of Jollity from his The Planets suite.

Technically, Twilight Of The Gods is Quorthon at top form. The production, while not as clear, only adds to the music. It’s the murkiness, and occasional mud that makes some of the album's moments hit so hard. The choirs in the title track wouldn’t be effective, the atmosphere of Song Of Blood wouldn’t be so potent, Through Blood By Thunder wouldn’t be so uplifting, and so on. The mixing is fantastic as well, with every instrument at a perfect volume, and the less audible bass giving the album it’s obligatory thickness. While technically kind of terrible, the production in effect couldn’t be better. Quorthon himself is on fire as well, with his guitar playing and vocals at top form. Some of his best soloing can be found here, and the acoustic guitar is almost timeless. He also gives one of metal’s greatest vocal performances ever, delivering more emotion than some vocalists do in their entire careers, in addition to a much cleaner and prettier timbre, instead of sounding like Cartman with throat cancer.

In conclusion, Twilight Of The Gods is nothing short of a masterpiece. Every single song on the album is 10/10, and every one of them is impeccably written and performed, with masterful lyrics and incredible use of atmosphere and emotion. This album is such a divergence from the notion of metal as well. Rather than being a kickass riff fest, or even just an atmospheric journey that you might get from this end of the black metal spectrum, it is truly a work of sonic art that transcends the tropes of any genre. It has masterful emotional portrayals, tales of mythic proportions and even important messages, on top of many riffs and melodies worth remembering. Even though the album is 57 minutes long, it feels closer to 45, as every second of it has something incredible to offer. It’s one of the best written, most potent, inspiring, well crafted and beautiful albums ever created. The album is a pure journey, and absolutely Quorthon’s true masterpiece.