Hades – The Dawn of the Dying Sun (1997)
As opposed to “House of the Rising Sun”. Hades is apparently from a place where Blood Fire Death was constantly in the cassette decks and/or CD players. In many ways, they sound like a more intense version of ‘Viking’ era Bathory, to the point that this album is occasionally labeled as viking metal despite its lyrics mostly not being related to Viking topics. Either way, plenty of bands had paid homage to Bathory (or copied them more directly if they were less creative) by 1997, so this album’s merit is a question of what it brings to the table.
One thing listeners will notice is that this album is mostly midpaced, which creates some space in the arrangements that otherwise might not be there. That’s partially canceled out by the production, which is driven by pure wall of sound. Furthermore, the album’s mastered extremely loud and is somewhat lacking in dynamics, to the point that it sometimes clips like crazy; that could cause you some ear fatigue in the long run. To be fair, the apparent inspiration wasn’t very dynamic either, but this is still worth mentioning.
It also logically follows that Hades shares the strengths of late ’80s Bathory, in that they display similar skill in creating atmosphere and ambience despite the overall higher intensity level. The compositions on this album are fairly minimalistic and sometimes extend to significant distance (such as 10 minute midpiece and tribute to Richard Chaucer “Alone Walkyng”). However, the band throws in just enough changes to keep my interest – and if you know of my tastes for variation and complexity in my music, then you know that’s an achievement. Other comparisons arise from this observation – Enslaved, in their earliest days, had a similar taste for atmosphere and minimalism, and actually engaged with Viking themes. Both bands also show an affinity for adding acoustic instruments and keyboards to their recordings. Beyond these surface elements, Hades shows an affinity for obvious melody that neither of the previous bands were particularly tapping into, at least on the albums I’ve linked to. Bathory obviously became more consonant after the Viking frenzy tempered the aggression of Quorthon’s music, but they don’t seem to have reached the same level as Hades shows here.
As a result of all this, The Dawn of the Dying Sun sounds like the crossfire between its more intense black metal contemporaries and quieter, gentler rock/folk influences that admittedly were present in diluted form through its contemporaries. The latter helps this album reach relevance, but extra dynamics would have earned this band many long term fans. Anyways, it appears this was the band’s last salvo in the style – after being forced to affix the word “Almighty” to their name, they briefly explored an experimental path and passed into history…
Highlights: “Awakening of Kings”, “Alone Walkyng”, “The Tale of a Nocturnal Empress”