Review: A blistering halo of noise accompanies atmospheric riffing in a Venom/Slayer hybrid style which develops melodic complexity while maintaining continuity within the framework of constant driving tempo with few fills or variations, wrapping the core of this virus in an aesthetic of chaos coming into focus before vanishing. The voice of Quorthon carries the essential melody of each song, and changes with the riffs to indicate structural alteration. Guitars seethe at raw intensity of dynamic noise, hissing and screaming through speed riffs and powerful tone-centric drives which use power chords as the basis for phrases emphasizing fundamental differences in harmonic relevance of notes to a central structure.
1. Storm of Damnation (Intro) (3:07)
2. Hades (2:45)
3. Reaper (2:44)
4. Necromansy (3:41)
5. Sacrifice (3:17)
6. In Conspiracy With Satan (2:29)
7. Armageddon (2:32)
8. Raise the Dead (3:42)
9. War (2:15)
10. Outro (0:23)
In this, the music brings forth its lineage of Venom in circular riff/chorus structures centered around a tone and a rhythmic motion to note progressions shaped for its return and emphasis, countering that tendency with a Slayeresque expansion of riff through transition and layers of textural and arrangement inflections mapping the growth of basic components of theme. The tendency inherited from rock to use advancing cyclic structures of verse increments concluding in a transition to the next segment of song allows melodic continuity through reference and implication, providing a labyrinthine but clear navigation. Guitar solos and offset structural insertions serve where in future albums narrative will expand.
Rising from the midst of this bulk are tendrils of delicate melody leaning toward statements in the classical style which summarize the developments in phrasing so far and resolve to a fusion, fission or restatement of major theme. These moments of enlightenment occur as product of the rudimentary power chord riffing building atmosphere to a point; for this reason this album like most of the Bathory works diverges from a mainstream view of music by using dynamic consistency to serve goals of dramatic revelation to the piece. In this raw poetry the fusion of the lowest and highest in popular music dove underground with a chaotic and powerful album.
Review: Jagged instantiation of elemental conflict in racing powerchord riffs fuels the antagonism Bathory channel through phrases varied over nearly unceasing mechanistic percussion, providing a basis for music with both less conventional structure and more melodic coherence than previous efforts in extreme music. Churning relentlessness of rhythm changing emphasis and shape within consistent tempo drives music forward, while the combination of riff ambience and vocal texture creates a space for recombinance.
1. Revelation of Doom (3:27)
2. Total Destruction (3:51)
3. Born for Burning (5:14)
4. The Wind of Mayhem (3:13)
5. Bestial Lust (2:42)
6. Possessed (2:42)
7. The Rite of Darkness (2:06)
8. Reap of Evil (3:29)
9. Son of the Damned (2:48)
10. Sadist (3:00)
11. The Return of the Darkness and Evil (3:49)
12. Outro (0:26)
Roaring into life with abrupt and explosive changes, beginnings and fades, the elemental music here composed of standard form power chords implies layers in its structural abuttments to open phrase cycles of verse and chorus in the minimalist, angular hardcore style that Venom adapted but applied less artfully. Slayer-inspired tremelo riffing and notions of song structure conforming only to the poetic expressions of theme shape to each song, placed into the linear confines of atmospheric blast drumming, forms the bulk of the work while moments of revelation that present change or conclusion to each song capture the heavy metal ideal of epic reduction and closure.
Consistent dynamic exists mainly for listenability and not omnipotently, varying at key moments to lower intensities for the purpose of building new continuities of tone and rhythm from which theme can arise, changing with segments of song to sequence mood to another cadence of human motion. Much as Possessed bury melody within ascendant grinding riff conflict, Bathory carefully inlay melodic lead riffing of deconstructed variants of the shifting motif. Howled vocals in the black metal rasp are dramatic and alter presence in music with rhythm and timbre, while it is the lyrical voice of guitar changing in riffs that advances the story of each song.
Inspired by the Beatles, Quorthon at first made music in the style of Venom and Slayer but here branched into his own style, putting nihilistic riffing into grander song structure that approaches post-rock complexity and often achieves it. The result is a foundation of black metal that surpassed original influences and generated an aesthetic basis that much of modern black metal (Havohej, Darkthrone, Immortal, Burzum) embraced with vigor.
Review: Blastmaster Quorthon brings his third album by ultra-primitive black metal band Bathory into the spotlight by curving his style toward that of conventional rock, with more catchy and conclusive choruses and slightly more technique and style.
The metal-stamper percussion works as an effective offset by sustaining the same furious ranting pace without cessation for phrase endings or anything except major structural changes, allowing the guitar to introduce numerous smaller textural riffs and variations along the same major tempo, driving high-intensity discharge behind the strobing guitar.
Atmospheric in its intent, guitar uses simple chords for composition of deliberately straightforward and aggressive riffs, with chorus riffs following the vocal track and all other riffs building direction by shadowing the consistent rhythm of the terminator-style drum machine. Solos break out of the music, mockingly disguised as utter randomness but following the harmonies of each song's major theme.
The stretched and eroded voice of Quorthon hisses from a distant height to the music, chanting the psalms of lyrical evil created for our aesthetic sustenance as listeners. The combined tribute to and parody of previous generations of metal invokes the emphasis on impurity prevalent throughout this work.
Where this differs from previous Bathory is in the evolution of tempo beyond the direct influence of Venom and Slayer, the primary progenitors of this style; here something closer to, ahem, Motorhead can be heard with recursing and counterpoint rhythms underlying simple, almost ambient riffs that emphasize resonance over harmonic motion.
In this classic evolution the future of black metal reveals itself, and the ambition of increasing complexity is tempered only by the rising tide of melodrama threatening to swamp all taste with dogmatically obvious songwriting.
Review: In a genre that had inspired motion beyond the linear and reactive, Bathory made an epic statement of the spirit enmeshed in the ideology and symbols of the genre, rendering from Norse mythology a series of views into concepts of death and ultimate destruction. With a passion and sense of melodic poetry to songwriting unmatched by almost all bands, this Swedish act rendered a resurgent and vital journey through the subconscious to Jungian self-assertion.
Opening with a classically-derived intro and brief allusive overture encompassing broad conceptual associations the album moves quickly into a style of riffing that hybridizes the fast flutterstrum of Slayer and more emphatic single-stroke arrangements to create a style that explodes with the dynamicism of majestic heavy metal and sinuously unveils its inner workings with the reptilian consciousness of raw and urgent, alienated, isolated black metal. Vocals are a hoarse shout giving credit to both the hissing howl of earlier Bathory works and the more ambitious vocal work on albums to follow.
1. Odens Ride Over Nordland (3:00)
2. A fine Day To Die (8:36)
3. The Golden Walls Of Heaven (5:23)
4. Pace 'till Death (3:40)
5. Holocaust (3:26)
6. For All Those Who Died (4:57)
7. Dies Irae (5:12)
8. Blood Fire Death (10:30)
9. Outro (0:59)
Songs are unique, in structure and in the essential juncture of melody and rhythm that forms their evolving core, and each holds attention through distinctive mechanism and in an honest artistic sense, states a theme which is symbolically linked to eventiture or conception and then naturally expands and destroys it as if events were playing out in a reality accepting the presuppositions of Viking allusion. Instrumentalism is precise and while sometimes rock-influenced, blends threads of ideal with a concentration of effort on melody and blasting raw riffs that exceed the study of motion and impact found on the second work from this band.
Violent and yet varied in dynamic to present narrative scenario unfolding as a series of visions with associated perceptual emotions, these pieces bring mood to the forefront in a focus on development of story and listener immersion in the sensations and theory of that reality. Lyricism and an emergent sense of logic in noise distinguish lead guitar and vocal efforts in a fullness to these songs of mostly consistent harmonic construction.
Structuralist lead riffing furthers intensity at times of precision or directional variability in melodic continuity of phrase and complements power chord riffing varying from the simplest to extensive progressions of similar structures within a melodic structure shifting with the harmony of song. As such, this is of the older school of metal on its way to the newer, and as the end of the previous cycle does all that a warrior of apocalypse must: summarizes the past and advances it to its height as a means of reducing it and forcing a search for new space to conquer.
Influential visibly on Immortal, Burzum, Enslaved and Emperor, this album culminated the foundational work of Bathory and remains attentionable in the current time for its raw spirit and immortal melody in the assembly of storytelling. Epic and disenchanted meet in this saga of the end.
Review: Perhaps the lost musical companion to "Gravity's Rainbow" or the Beatles album that stayed on the shelves, "Twilight of the Gods" is an epic of heavy metal opera that transcends all scope previously addressed in rock music to present the essence of individuals in crisis in the presence time: nothing to believe in, and even our own behavior has failed - what is left? "O, all small creatures: it is the twilight of the gods!"
1. Prologue/Twilight of the Gods/Epilogue (14:02)
2. Through Blood by Thunder (6:15)
3. Blood and Iron (10:25)
4. Under the Runes (6:00)
5. To Enter Your Mountain (7:37)
6. Bond of Blood (7:35)
7. Hammerheart (4:58)
Structured like a visual revelation of story, the album opens with an epic after silence and returns to that emptiness, emerging through organic sound as the whole of its recollection of how the situation got to the point reflected in the inception, chaos and the title track ("In this age of utter madness, we pretend we are in control"). From this point careful orchestration of dynamic distinguishes this release as songs utilize acoustics, a capella and lush weavings of keyboard and organic noise to present spaces in which explosive conquest of space occurs through rhythm and melody.
In songwriting epic, in tactics built of melodic heavy metal dependent on internal harmony for resonance, these indulgently operatic works present emotion through vocals, in the style of rock music, and like more progressive rock works use changes in verse to indicate lyrical changes in singing cueing imminent change. Forerunners of the Nordic black metal stomp beat and rowing rhythm can be heard, as well as careful use of introductory and interlude material for conceptual balance, a technique which has appeared on modern metal albums. Further the concepts and language used on this release are now familiar thanks to their absorption by Burzum, Graveland, Immortal, Darkthrone and others.
Although not as much metal as heavy metal/rock, this highly intelligent and philosophically erudite work of the end of human history expresses the alienation and dying hope expectable from such an age, and channeling through art its emotion expressed a stage on which others would build with the opposite reaction: we must fight back.
Review: Epic masterpiece metal from the seventies grows older and becomes this strange Viking punk fusion, a metal that uses mellow dark punk riffs under a overbearing story of quest and battle. The earlier Bathory albums that inspired a genre following had a similar basic structure interpreted more rigorously and aggressively with a power chord bludgeon searing grind overload, but here this stuff is more - well, normal rock - and with that handicap it makes good, even though it retains the fundamentally ludicrous and performance-art-oriented nature of black metal.
1. Intro (1:45)
2. Blood on Ice (5:41)
3. Man of Iron (2:47)
4. One Eyed Old Man (4:21)
5. The Sword (4:07)
6. The Stallion (5:13)
7. The Woodwoman (6:17)
8. The Lake (6:42)
9. Gods of Thunder of Wind and of Rain (5:42)
10. The Ravens (1:09)
11. The Revenge of the Blood on Ice (9:52)
Sometimes it seems absurdly happy yet the music is dark, drawn-out strumming of chords and tremello rhythms with the strident, youthful voice of Quorthon wailing his operatic vocals in disturbing counterpoint to his music. Romanticism kept barely dormant in this campfire rockish material breaks forth in the vocals and keyboards but seems overemphasizing the solid basis of the guitar riffs, which provide a strobing rhythm faintly colored with NWOBHM around which the programmed, repetitive drums and accompaniment play.
The aesthetic as a whole is troubling because of its guilelessness. Where majesty and vast motion of sound occurred on Bathory and Celtic Frost albums earlier, this work approaches directly in a simple honesty and overdemonstrated emotion similar to that of folk and Viking rock from past ages. The use of harmonies and the variations in strumming speed determine paired rhythmic and modal concepts to be later pioneered by faster black metal bands such as DarkThrone, Immortal, and Enslaved.
Like anything from a former age, there are some parts that are recognizably parameter - that is, part of membership in the genre in which the art is created - but these are held well by the more inspiring and raw, potential-laden forms of the sound Quorthon was developing. But as time passes, he still grasps the bare minimum component of his music which is the logicianís ability to structure a riff by dividing modalities into a rhythm, an ability that makes his albums always vaguely memorable if inconclusive.