Bathory - Hammerheart review
|Release date:||April 1990|
01. Shores In Flames
03. Baptised In Fire And Ice
04. Father To Son
05. Song To Hall Up High
06. Home Of Once Brave
07. One Rode To Asa Bay
Often considered the first true Viking metal album, to this day it continues to be the standard by which all other albums in this sub-genre are judged.
The music is grand, emotional, and epic while at the same time being very simple and straight-forward. It captures the essence of its subject material in a way that was unprecedented in heavy metal in the late 80's. And what I mean by that is even without the lyrics (dripping in Viking lore and Norse mythology as they are), you still get a huge sense of cold-shores, swift raids and smoke filled mead halls.
The lyrics, of course, add to that atmosphere. And these are incredibly well written lyrics I might add. I must point out One Rode to Asa Bay as the greatest example of the albums ability to mix huge sounding music with thoughtful, well read lyrics. Two emotions really resonate in this song. One, a tremendous sense of pride, and the other a sense of quiet anger. Basically when listening to Quorthon shout throughout this song you begin to understand that here is a man who is really mad, at both the forceful rape of his once proud culture by foreign powers and religions as well as the apathy shown by so many of his ancestors as their way of life was essentially destroyed.
This theme of subtle anger can be felt throughout the album.
The production is a negative aspect of the album. Some would argue that the low value of said production is what gives the album its sense of atmosphere, and that a cleaner, crisper production would have removed the emotion that makes it such a great piece of music. However many modern bands who take so much influence from this album (ie. Doomsword, Tyr, Einherjer, early Vintersorg etc.) benefit greatly from cleaner production and I believe it could only have improved Hammerheart.
Quorthon's voice may turn some possible fans away as well. He doesn't really earn marks for singing talent. I for one think his voice perfectly fits the style of music.
In conclusion this album while not flawless was a tremendous influence on many well respected bands and still stands among the best albums ever produced in a sub-genre it helped define.
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