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Classic Review: Bathory - Hammerheart

Label: Black Mark Productions
Year released: 1989
Duration: 55:44
Tracks: 7
Genre: Viking Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: April 20, 2006
Reviewed by: Ulysses
Readers Rating

Rated 4.58/5 (91.6%) (81 Votes)

I'm ashamed that I haven't paid much heed to this album as I should've, or noticed how momentous it is to Metal. This is THE Viking Metal album, the one that was before all other. What I do have to say about it is that this is one of the most unforgettable and marvelous albums I've ever listened to by Bathory… or by any artist. When listening to Hammerheart, the Norse influence is present at all times. Quorthon never made the mistake of deviating from the atmosphere of Viking culture, bringing forth their rich and primordial society so effectively in the form of Metal that you're captivated by the ambition that was achieved so radiantly. After a decade and a half since the release of Hammerheart there have only been a handful of bands that can exceed the excellence that this album is worthily soaked in.

This album is remarkably outstanding compared to most Viking Metal albums because of the tale that defined it. It wasn't a direct concept, but it told an epic story of the many (or all?) aspects of Viking history and beliefs from their lives, deaths and rebirth to their inevitable fall to the Christians. This album is not the typical "Viking's Rule!" material that many people are used to. This is a tale of struggle, demise, and ultimately the doom of a proud kin of people whose valiance and ambition to eradicate the influence of alien cultures that plagued their lives.

Musically speaking, this album is also flawless. Everything from the sharp vocals and choirs to the jagged riffs and booming drumming left me in utter awe. What really shocked me was even though the music was absolutely filthy and rugged, the transitions between tracks was something to behold. The album flows very smoothly and the atmosphere is never lost for a second. The typical war horn ambience in the background adds astonishing amounts of depth, making this album almost hypnotic and virtually spellbinding. When it was over it was like every single track was stuck in my head at once because you'll never lose yourself in Hammerheart. You know exactly where everything starts, to the ending of it all.

Such an amazing album like this is something to behold, not only is Hammerheart a vital album in the history of Metal but it is also a magnificent listen from its beginning to conclusion. Highly recommended album to anyone.

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