Considering the three decades that Bathory has existed, it’s a big surprise that there have been only two real tribute acts to the band that invented an entire genre – Germany’s Blood Fire Death, and now heavy metal supergroup Twilight Of The Gods.
Starting off as a tribute band and performing a criminally small number of live shows, the band gelled more than expected and elected to go further as a group and write an album’s length of original material; Fire On The Mountain being the result.
With members of Primordial, Cradle Of Filth, Mayhem, Thyrfing and Einherjer among them, one would expect something along the lines of blackened folk metal, but FOTM has proven to be something entirely different.
One would imagine they were signed to Season Of Mist so quickly on account of their pedigree, but such a notion is dispensed with almost immediately upon hearing opening track ‘Destiny Forged In Blood’ with its militaristic drumbeat and tastefully raw sounding guitar intro, taking its time and easing into a far more traditional metal sound – the guitars wouldn’t sound out of place on Judas Priest’s ‘Dissident Aggressor,’ that darker sound coming through.
Averill sings in a higher pitch than his usual in Primordial, indeed in the chorus of Children Of Cain, he hits and holds notes I’ve never heard him reach before – and it sounds great, really jarring against the relatively downtuned rhythm guitar riff.
The confident competence behind this album clearly exemplifies the experience of the band – with a combined 40 albums between them, it would be hard to imagine anything less than professional and assured.
‘Preacher Man’ could have been lifted directly off Manowar’s Battle Hymns, with its very different riffing structure and lyrical content from the rest of the songs, and it’s a refreshing change midway through the album.
The lyrics slip into Primordial territory quite a bit, and it’s usually the non-Primordial lyrics that work much better, as in Sword Of Damocles: “We are the sons of the hammer….we are the sons of the hammer….of the neutron…. hammer” completely reversing the expected theme of the song in a beautifully unexpected way.
However, the Primordial-esque lyrics can work stunningly well, as evidenced in ‘Destiny Forged In Blood,’ with “This is our heathen metal call to arms, raise your voices and write your destiny in blood,” It’s just a modern classic line, and will be a claw in the air job when it’s played at gigs.
The band have managed to dodge the natural trap of following on with the Bathory tribute by doing an overtly Bathory influenced album, and probably sounding like their individual bands too much. This is something new, harking back to the early days of metal yet keeping their feet firmly planted in the modern day.
There’s a lot to take in here, and more than a few listens will be necessary to draw out all the subtleties, but it’s more than worth it. It’s a fantastic debut, sounding far enough apart from their main bands to be something truly interesting, and it’ll be great to hear this stuff live.
4.1 – Dónal McBrien ::: 28/8/13