Friday, June 30, 2006

Set your sails and let me take your ship to foreign shores...

For my first post, I thought, "Vera, you have to find a great album!"

Bathory's Hammerheart is one of those great albums.
This is a definite Must Have™ in any metal collection.
Bringing forth Norse Mythology into the lyrics of albums such as Blood Fire Death, Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods, Bathory is seen as the pioneers of Viking Metal. Now, admittedly, not everyone that is into metal is into the whole Viking/Norse Metal scene, but if you were to own ANY album of this genre of metal, this is the album to own.

The album starts off with the sounds of water lapping onto a shore. "Shores in Flames". A soft, almost lulling sound begins as the melodic voice carries you into a voyage set off by Norsemen to conquer foreign lands leaving shores in flames and cities in ruin. The chanting "Shores in flames... shores in flames" draws you in, like the rhythm of the paddles of dragon boats on a choppy sea; and the power of the ocean, the voyage, the pillage can be heard deep within the guitars and vocals.

Continuing on to "Valhalla" the vocals are much more raw and desperate. A screaming homage to the God of Thunder, Tor (Thor). A warrior's fate is met. The constant crashing cymbals is reminicent of clashing swords and shields in battle. The roar of thunder echoes in the background, calling out to the God of Thunder. This must be listened to very VERY loudly.

In "Baptised in Fire and Ice", the chunky guitar riffs in this song continue to drive your heartbeat to the rhythm of some unseen force. Quorthon's voice tells a tale of a child growing up and learning the ways of Norsemen, the powers of nature, the wind, the sea and of course the power of fire and ice. The continual story of values passed from father to son. In this song, the music seems almost secondary to the vocals and until you can really get a handle on Quorthon's singing style, I recommend you keep the lyric sheet handy.

The next song, "Father to Son", takes "Baptised in Fire and Ice" from the point of view of a father . It starts off with the sounds of home-life in what we could imagine to be a normal sort of village. The sound of a blacksmith clanging steel, a dog barking, a baby crying. The slow chanting when the music starts is a paradoxical prelude to the amazing guitar and drums to follow seconds later. The mixing of vocals and guitars has met a balance like it did in opening song.

"Song to Hall Up High" is an acoustic. Falling on the heels of the heavy melodies this song is almost like a psalm to Oden.

Immediately, Quorthon brings your back into another heavy song. Vvornth's hypnotic drumming in "Home of Once Brave" almost sets you to flight with the beating wings of one of Oden's ravens; flying over the vast land that he is said to have ruled. The open guitar chords and long riffs send you soaring over mountains and forests tall and wide. A majestic feeling echoes as the song trails off into a distant horizon.

"One Rode to Asa Bay" begins with the sound of galloping hoofs; an almost ominous sound. The lyrics sing of the coming of Christianity to the Norsemen. The guitars almost cry in pain as Quorthon sings and the churchbells ring in the background. The chanting throughout is foreboding and as the last line of the song is sung the screaming guitars wail in a very sad and tearful way.

Listen to this album up to … ELEVEN!

Bathory's line-up for this album:

Quorthon-vocals, guitar, electric guitar, backing vocals and fx

Vvornth-drums and percussion



The Grunt said...

Congrats on your first 120 dB's post, Vera! I will have to check this one out.

The Grunt said...

I checked them out, finally! They are good.