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Hammerheart

Hammerheart

1 Jan 1990
5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Format: Audio CD
There is one great issue with this album: You cannot listen to it: Give the album two minutes and you chant along with the battlehymns on this album. Give it another three minutes and that's you fully dressed in the re-enactment kit, a horn of mead in your hand, and a sword in the other; whilst you've just dug out that LEGO Dragonship your parents gave you for your 4th birthday, and you try to balance your 250 lbs (including beer gut) on its tip.

The album clocks in at about 57 minutes for 7 songs - the tremendous length of each of the hymns allowing for plenty of warchanting and pillaging your entire bedroom closet.

It picks of rather quiet, with the waves beating against the shore, with a quiet part the follow it before "Shores in Flames" kicks off and you find yourself toasting to your Germanic ancestors. The fury continues in an epic style through "Valhalla", "Baptised in Fire and Ice" and "Father to Son", until you reach the accoustic "Song to Hall up High", which honors Valfather Odin and is a truly emotional song. "Home of Once Brave" is again a battle hymn highlighted by guitars that make you seem in battle. Finally you reach "One Rode to Asa Bay", which has to be the best song on the album. It starts off with a man galloping through the woods, before you have the main song kicking off, carrying on until you reach the Solo at about 5:30, and then the short accoustic part at about 7:30 until the end - all the time able to sympathise with the suffering of the people under the allegedly not peaceful christianisation of Scandinavia.

To talk of the music itself - the studio is obviously a garage, and the sound quality is not always the best, but quite acceptable.
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By A Customer on 14 Mar. 2002
Format: Audio CD
This is one of the most passionate albums to be found in metal. As Quorthorn's lyrics speak of the pain and suffering that the Vikings faced in the Christian slaughter with tracks like 'One Road To Asa Bay,' you feel the pain with them. An effective portrayal of the emotions of the Viking people and their beliefs.
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Format: Audio CD
With `Blood Fire Death', Bathory marked the beginning of a new era and marked the arrival of a new genre - Viking metal. Although it may sound ridiculous, this genre, one which merges with the finer aspects of black metal, was very strong in its heyday. When it comes to finding a finer Viking metal band on Earth, only acts like Enslaved can compete with the gloriousness that is Bathory, spearheaded by the late-and-great Tomas Forsberg, also known as Quorthon. `Blood Fire Death', as the title of my review for it suggests, isn't my favourite Bathory album but by heck is it still fantastic. Although only a mere two years had passed since `Blood Fire Death' (1988) was released, there are some notable changes on `Hammerheart' (1990) and it's in these very changes that marks Bathory's step-up from greatness to Godliness. Some of the changes were already being placed in motion on the fourth full-length, `Blood Fire Death', but they were now in full swing in the Spring of 1990, a fitting season for Bathory to be reborn again within a new sub-genre.

It's a tussle between this album, `Hammerheart' and `Twilight of the Gods', an album which only came out a year after the former, as to which is my favourite from the Swedish godfather of Viking metal. Although neither are flawless, they come pretty damn close, in my humble opinion. Judging by the material on `Blood Fire Death', it's easy to see how Bathory evolved from one moment to the next. As I said, there are traits to this album which can be seen on the aforementioned full-length and vice versa. However, I tend to feel those few differences between the two make all the difference when it comes to finding a definitive winner within Bathory's discography. The production, for instance, seems a lot stronger on `Hammerheart'.
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Format: Audio CD
Metal doesn't get any better than this *stunning* tribute to the Northern archetype and the freedom it entails.

From the opening grandeur of 'Shores in Flames' and 'Valhalla', Quorthon turns to a more quotidian, personalised account of Norse existence, with 'Baptised in Fire and Ice' and 'Father to Son' exalting the bonds of blood and nature that tied ancient pagan communities together. The latter has blatently nationalist lyrics, which would probably have moralists expressing 'concern' if released today. But for all the efforts of the vampires of the Guardian (a bourgeois UK paper) to sink their pale teeth into metal, PC will never have any place in this form of music. It's amusing when 'AntiFa' punks try to judge metal by the same standards as their own repressive scene...'Hammerheart' will continue to inspire when such paltry souls have crumbled into dust. These punks will never understand that true nationalism means loving your own, not hating others. And nor will 'genre metallers' (looking for their latest fix of 'brutal technical' or 'tr00 kvlt') find much to interest them in Bathory's later work.

'Hammerheart' stands forever beyond modern dogmas - it lives in the old freedom of the North, which Tolkien called "the free days of old" and which C.S. Lewis described as "a vision of huge, clear spaces hanging above the Atlantic in the endless twilight of Northern summer...remoteness, severity." Quorthon pays tribute to this Northern spirit explicitly on 'Home of Once Brave', but the entire album is saturated in a spirit of pure northernness.

This is Bathory's greatest album, and Quorthon's most priceless legacy. Having created this stunning masterpiece, he can sleep well indeed.
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