(1991) Bathory – Twilight of the Gods: Anniversary Special

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Through all the festivals, concerts, pubs, and bars you can find rare but true BATHORY fans. BATHORY is mostly known by the elder and experienced fans of metal, as well as some fans that appreciate particular metal genres. In my opinion, BATHORY deserves a place together with bands that have written history in rock and metal bands. I remember my high school days when I was interested in Norse mythology and Vikings. BATHORY was just the right thing at the right time with the album “Twilight Of The Gods” now celebrating its 30th anniversary.

BATHORY has set the groundwork for not only one, but two thriving metal subgenres. The true core of the band, the late Tomas Forsberg aka Quorthon (1996-2004), may have been one of metal’s great over-achievers, whether that was his intention or not, as he helped set the stage for black and Viking metal.

“Twilight of the Gods” continues the saga that the band started with “Hammerheart”  and  “Blood Fire Death.” Quorthon hinted that he is going to change his playing style and switch to something a little bit more melodic and atmospheric, at a slower pace. Through both albums, we can experience his learning and experimentation, all of which was crystallized in “Twilight of the Gods.” The major themes in this album are nature, Vikings, legends, myths; anti-Christian theme was also not abandoned in this album either. A person that has listened to all of his albums might figure out that he always persecuted Christianity pretty much whenever he had the chance.

The opener starts with the self-titled track, “Twilight of the Gods,” which is also the longest track of this album. It is composed of a prologue with sounds of nature and wind accompanied with the clean acoustic guitar. Like tremendous thunder, it hits you with drums and base and doom-styled heavy guitar, yet you can hear perfectly the acoustic guitar, as they work to highlight the changing chords. Musically and thematically speaking, this song is the work of a genius. All the progressive elements and changes, mixing the acoustic parts with an electric heavy sound, all wrapped with a chanting human voice, like keys. Quorthon was always a master of storytelling, portraying a realistic view of the world and in a more amazing way.

The album continues with songs “Through Blood By Thunder” and “Blood and Iron,” both of which following the same pattern that we were used to after listening to the first opening track, from the doomish style of the sound and constant combining and changing from acoustic guitar to electric, with that calming, chanting voice. “Through Blood By Thunder” beautifully represents Quorthon’s view of the world. Claiming that the ones that watch over us in the never-ending sky are the gods and the ones who choose and write their own destiny are not the gods, but man himself. “Blood and Iron” has melodic acoustic string picking, while the ring of steel strings resonates with the gentle melody. This all leads the song into a more raw and powerful sound. The theme changes from commentary to battle, providing a little narrative story in the middle of the song. 

Tracks “Under the Runes” and “To Enter Your Mountain” follow with a similar pattern as previous songs, perhaps sounding monotonous and repetitive at some points, but still giving the listeners some interesting fills and twists to enjoy. Both songs continue the saga in further detail. Suddenly, the album gives you a feeling that this is a theme, or better yet, a story that is continued through all songs.

Interestingly, the album then ends the saga with “Bond of Blood,” while the last song of the album is “Hammerheart.” Interestingly, the latter is not part of the “Hammerheart” album. The song feels like the resolution and also the conclusion of this album, ending it like the first song began, in an atmospheric way. The “Hammerheart” song has a completely different soundscape and the way it is sung has a hymnal feeling… a hymn that Quorthon dedicated to the Viking gods and Viking people. The song was used also as a memorial song dedicated to Quorthon when he passed away in 2004.

“Twilight of the Gods” is often considered BATHORY’s masterpiece, which laid the foundation of their Viking metal era. This album is the culmination of everything Quorthon had been dabbling in. This classic is surely a mandatory listen for Viking metal fans, but should likewise be recommended to other metal fans and music lovers, so as not to miss out on such a landmark release.

Written by Peter Jerman

Tracklist

  1. Twilight of the Gods
  2. Through Blood by Thunder
  3. Blood and Iron
  4. Under the Runes
  5. To Enter Your Mountain
  6. Bond of Blood
  7. Hammerheart
  8. The Winds Of Mayhem (Outro)

Lineup

Quorthon – Vocals, guitar
Kothaar – Bass
Vvornth – Drums

Label

Black Mark Production

Links

Spotify

Wikipedia