We talked yesterday about–and I gulp heavily as I write this–supergroups. I write that word just because it’s an easy way to describe a group of musicians who have made music in other bands and come together to form a new one. Period, and that’s it. I know a lot of people hate that title, and I totally get why.
Anyway, that brings us to Twilight of the Gods and their debut album “Fire on the Mountain,” an album that should warm the hearts of anyone who grew up feasting on Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Bathory. It’s classic heavy metal. It’s gloriously played, it’s huge, it’s epic, and it not only celebrates the roots and very existence of heavy metal, but it rolls in it and enjoys the very feel of the genre’s mud on its back. There is no reason for anyone to feel bad about basking in metal and its history, and fuck all the people who think there’s something to snicker at. We are greater than them, we will prevail, and bands like Twilight of the Gods will stand behind us all.
Twilight of the Gods has Alan Averill as its leader, the same man whose voice makes Primordial such a devastating, glorious force in metal and who also sings for the criminally under-appreciated Blood Revolt, as well as Dread Sovereign and Plagued. He’s joined by other killers such as guitarists Partrik Lindgren (Thyrfing) and Rune Eriksen (ex-Mayhem, Aura Noir), bassist Frode Glesnes (Einherjer) and drummer Nick Barker (Dimmu Borgir, Testament), who make up a deadly collection of players whose collective goals seem to be paying homage to classic metal, be it death, thrash, or black. This record is a poetic, adventurous collection of seven songs that might feel different to listeners who just came onto metal the last few years but will feel like a homecoming for those of us who have been in the genre’s defending forces since the 1980s and grew up during one of the style’s greatest eras.
Oh, speaking of Bathory, Twilight of the Gods actually started off as a tribute to that titanic band that was led by the late, great Quorthon, and the band’s name is taken from the 1991 album of the same name. But there’s more power and classic heavy metal contained in this, as they morphed past their primary influence, and you’ll notice just how much Averill is letting his voice soar and explode, sounding as powerful, charismatic, and in command as ever before, and he just sells the living hell out of these songs. He’s beyond great here.
We kick off with “Destiny Forged in Blood,” a true anthem for a genre flooding with them, and when Averill howls, “This is our heathen metal call to arms!” you can imagine him and his band standing alongside Dio, Dickinson and Harris, Sabbath, Fenriz, and, of course, Quorthon as a metallic guard you would not dare cross. Just a great opening cut. “Children of Cain” swelters and rides hard, like a classic Maiden cut. There are some solid NWOBHM-style guitars, military drumming, and more passionate singing that pushes this song through the stratosphere. “Fire on the Mountain (1683)” is a mammoth cut about the Battle of Vienna that opens with driving bass and war chants, groove-heavy verses that allow Averill to retell the tale and bury you with rhythm, and a tone that could help you reimagine cavalries and armies clashing, pitting soldiers of the Ottoman Empire and the Holy Roman Empire as they spill blood over faith. This is the same type of song that made Maiden great, and Twilight of the Gods could boast they’ve come up with an historical crusher along the same lines.
“Preacher Man” is harsh and scathing, with Averill delivering his most poisonous vocals on the whole record, later vowing, “I’ll be the devil in your hearts.” “Sword of Damocles” has its roots in an ancient tale that warns about the pitfalls of power and riches, but it stretches those lessons to modern times, where world leaders have deadly weapons at their disposal. The song has an awesome chorus that has to become a live favorite, with Averill declaring, “We are the sons of the hammer.” Excellent cut, and a pure and real metal classic in the making. “The End of History” runs 8:12 and obviously is packed with darkness and fear, which you could figure out from the title alone. It’s a little doomy in places, which is fitting for the subject matter, and behind the somber haymakers are explosions and a spray of gunfire. Before the song ends, Averill offers listeners a chance to evaluate where they are in their lives and if they’ll make another difference by asking, “Do you have the will to rewrite the past and alter the future?” Closer “At Dawn We Ride” takes a little while to get cooking, as it pulls back on the intensity and takes time to reflect on the devastation in front of it. Thunder cracks, the band keeps a steady, bruising pace, and the song lets the fires burn out, the smoke settle, and the war subside for now.
Hopefully this is just the beginning of Twilight of the Gods and that they’ll add many more chapters in the future. This is a band of some very busy musicians who have many, many irons in the fire, but they’re onto something special here. They deserve to fill a great hall where they can tell their stories and really unfurl their true majesty, and the crowd would be slain without question. This is a great new band, and I beg they have many more albums under their armor.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/totgofficial
To buy the album, go here: http://e-shop.season-of-mist.com/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/