Having been a Therion fan for years, I admit to being quite taken aback by just how dark and sinister the overall sound of this album is. I had been expecting a continuation of the brilliantly histrionic melodrama heard on previous efforts "Vovin", and "Deggial". Instead, the atmospheres are laid bare; the arrangements stark, simple and beautiful.
Opening track "Ginnungagap" sets the tone with a heavy drone of a guitar riff, soon backed by choral chanting and chilling woodwind. If you close your eyes you can really imagine a thousand Norse warriors going forth on a mission of conquest.
Following this is the sheer, unadulterated genius of "Midgard", the pounding drama of "Jotunheim", and the genuinely terrifying "Helheim".
In years to come this may come to be viewed as Therion's finest hour. Indeed, everything that makes a classic album is in place here: superb musicianship, tangible passion, and memorable songs.
One not to be missed.