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Voices from Valhalla
A Tribute to Bathory Steve Earles , June 14th, 2012 13:06

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Tribute albums are very much a two-edged sword which, had this record been a stinker, might have been an appropriate metaphor considering that no band ever did more to bring medieval weapons into the imagery of heavy metal than Bathory. Many are woeful, ill-thought-out affairs, featuring bands that don't actually understand their own supposed inspiration, thus serving only to sully the legacy of the band supposedly being paid tribute to. Thankfully, that is not the case with Voices From Valhalla. Here, not only have the bands involved taken deep inspiration from Bathory, but the double-CD itself is packaged with a love and attention sadly all too rare in this age of meaningless downloads.

The general sense throughout is that all the bands featured feel a love for Bathory, deep in their hearts. There's a wild, pleasing punky rock & roll rawness on many tracks, so often missing from modern black metal. Highlights include one of British metal's best kept secrets, Old Corpse Road, and their savage and sincere take on 'Equimanthorn' Ravens Creed deliver a Venom-ised version of 'For All Those Who Died' and Darkest Era craft a truly heartfelt version of 'Foreverdark Woods'. The influence of Bathory on bands from around the planet is evident here too. Ireland's Mael Mórdha really get the soul of 'Vinterblot', and Japan's Sigh give a unique, yet still fateful, take on 'Under The Runes'. The Meads of Asphodel, meanwhile, give a stirring account of 'Destroyer of Worlds'. Iif ever there was a band to take the spirit and innovation of Bathory into the 21st century, it's the Meads of Asphodel.

The tribute album ends with a recording of a 1996 interview with Bathory main-man Quorthon, by Crin of Godreah zine. It's a fine addition to the fine, lovingly thought out record that makes for a highlight of the metal underground – and beyond – of 2012 thus far. Indeed, far from Metallica's premature musical senility (see Lulu), the full-sleeve-tattooed merch blandness of Bring Me The Horizon, or the flavour-of-the-week genre ending in some 'core' or other, the spirit and heart of the bands of this tribute is a joy to behold. Check them out and support the scene, help it grow, and take a swipe of metal's mighty sword against mediocrity.