By now the switch from any kind of extreme thrash/black metal is gone, and Twilight of the Gods represents the full vision of Bathory into pure anthemic Viking Metal. Taken as a template for the style and a touchstone for dozens of bands who would iterate on the idea later, it might be near perfect. As a satisfying and cohesive album there’s a lot to love, though I’d be lying if I didn’t say I missed a little of the punch and pleasure from the faster, more immediate songs from the past.
I picked this up on vinyl at the same time as Blood Fire Death, and like that one this sounds fantastic compared to any other medium I had listened to previously. There’s also something to be said about having that great vista on a large 12″ x 12″ panel rather than a small, possibly smeared CD cover.
But the real pleasure is in the music. At this point Quorthon is all in on the slower paced, majestic riffs and acoustic accompaniment. And while the opening title track does everything you would want from a Bathory viking metal album, it’s really after that where things pick up. Both “Through Blood and Thunder” and “Blood and Iron” has a presence and “Blood and Iron” in particular with its twisted riff and more aggressive stomp is a great standout. There’s something of the same vibe on “Under the Runes” and beyond the better overall production and arranging Quorthon is starting to come into his own in the vocal department. His lead vocals are more confident, clearer, and the background chants are more than just in key moaning: there’s a sense of composition and harmony that really brings a sense of adventure and glory the songs are working toward.
The drums are programmed, but nothing about them really take away from the songs on Twilight of the Gods. No do the solos, which here are positively ripping. By the time of the outro I’m maybe a little bit tired, but all in all this is maybe the last truly GREAT Bathory record.
I guess we’ll see, since I have two more to review before we move onto to another artist.