Rating:
8.8
Bathory - Hammerheart
16 April 1990


01. Shores In Flames
02. Valhalla
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
08. Outro


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.

Performance: 9
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 6


Band profile: Bathory
Album: Hammerheart


 


written by Gordon Freeman | 24.08.2008


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



Comments

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Katatronik - 25.08.2008 at 14:29  
Agree with you man, good review!
One of my favourite "viking" albums of all time... One Rode to Asa Bay is a masterpiece IMO!
Elio - 28.08.2008 at 22:44  
This album is kickass! It's a good review since I agree for a lot of things, including the voice of Quorthon being perfect for this.
Yes, the production could be a weak point but it gives atmosphere, so it's not a problem.
pdepmcp - 30.08.2008 at 01:44  
geat review.
masterpiece.
Its impact on epic/viking music is so high that IMO it deserves a 9 in a review (and of course a 10 in album rating )
Gordon Freeman - 02.09.2008 at 22:29  
Written by pdepmcp on 30.08.2008 at 01:44

geat review.
masterpiece.
Its impact on epic/viking music is so high that IMO it deserves a 9 in a review (and of course a 10 in album rating )


I deliberated just giving it a 10 because I really do love this album. But good reviews are meant to be as unbiased as possible.

And for this particular album I just don't agree with the production creates the atmosphere. This album would have been greatly improved by better quality production.
Lucas - 14.09.2008 at 15:29  
I remember that when I was young (well, a couple of years ago haha. probably 14) I wanted this album so bad that I scrubbed the toilets at home once a week for some money for a couple of weeks straight so I could buy this album.
BestMetalstormer - 14.09.2008 at 17:37  
Written by Lucas on 14.09.2008 at 15:29

I remember that when I was young (well, a couple of years ago haha. probably 14) I wanted this album so bad that I scrubbed the toilets at home once a week for some money for a couple of weeks straight so I could buy this album.


lol, "cheer" for your high spirit longed for music, or for metal
MétalNoir - 01.03.2009 at 17:24  
Quorthon's voice sucks, the production is shit and the rythm is too slow to my taste, but this album deserves respect, although if it was out of its context, I would probably just call it shit... I mean, if some unknown band release Hammerheart today, it would be swiftly forgotten. But since it's a milestone in folk metal history, it's a "masterpiece". Anyway, I don't really like the album myself. Shores In Flames is good enough, though.
ms68 - 18.03.2009 at 10:40  
Written by MétalNoir on 01.03.2009 at 17:24

Quorthon's voice sucks, the production is shit and the rythm is too slow to my taste, but this album deserves respect, although if it was out of its context, I would probably just call it shit... I mean, if some unknown band release Hammerheart today, it would be swiftly forgotten. But since it's a milestone in folk metal history, it's a "masterpiece". Anyway, I don't really like the album myself. Shores In Flames is good enough, though.

if u say something like that about metallica's albums i'm agree with you. but i think this album deserves to be in metalstorm's top 10. Quorthon in this album deserves to be announced as the best vocalist of metal.
and when you're listening to this album u should consider this is 1990's album. in 1990 none of the bands that u rated their albums 10 even formed. all of them inspired from this album. for example burzum (one of the most important establishers of Norwegian Black Metal) said he has most of his inspirations from this album. this is why u find this boring. because after Quorthon a lot of bands copied this. but no one can copy his vocal!!!! i advice u to listen to this masterpiece moreand more. it has something that you'll never find anywhere else.
Uirapuru - 15.04.2009 at 08:47  
Written by ms68 on 18.03.2009 at 10:40

Written by MétalNoir on 01.03.2009 at 17:24

Quorthon's voice sucks, the production is shit and the rythm is too slow to my taste, but this album deserves respect, although if it was out of its context, I would probably just call it shit... I mean, if some unknown band release Hammerheart today, it would be swiftly forgotten. But since it's a milestone in folk metal history, it's a "masterpiece". Anyway, I don't really like the album myself. Shores In Flames is good enough, though.

if u say something like that about metallica's albums i'm agree with you. but i think this album deserves to be in metalstorm's top 10. Quorthon in this album deserves to be announced as the best vocalist of metal.
and when you're listening to this album u should consider this is 1990's album. in 1990 none of the bands that u rated their albums 10 even formed. all of them inspired from this album. for example burzum (one of the most important establishers of Norwegian Black Metal) said he has most of his inspirations from this album. this is why u find this boring. because after Quorthon a lot of bands copied this. but no one can copy his vocal!!!! i advice u to listen to this masterpiece moreand more. it has something that you'll never find anywhere else.


Well... you have already said everything.
Void Eater - 05.05.2011 at 08:26  
Disagree about the production; I'm with the camp saying that the raw production enhances the album. And indeed it is a might fine album. It's on par with Falknebach's debut for my favorite viking metal album.
Cuca Beludo - 06.05.2011 at 23:58  
I don't think this is the bathory masterpiece... there are so many good songs that i can't just say the best album, so... i rated Hammerheart,Twilight Of The Gods and Blood On Ice with a 10!
Cryzpin - 12.05.2011 at 14:51  
Written by ms68 on 18.03.2009 at 10:40

Quorthon in this album deserves to be announced as the best vocalist of metal.

Omg, be real people! No matter how much you worship Quorthon, no matter how good songwriter he was, his voice sucks sooo much. Powerless and too often out of tune. "Best vocalist"? Got some dirt in the ears?
Anyway, Blood fire death was the peak effort.
StephenTheBoss - 04.02.2013 at 13:52  
Listening now, Best best best best best

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