Review Summary: A definite contender for most inconsistent album of all time, 'Destroyer of Worlds' contains some of Bathory's very best and very worst work, with very little in between.
When people think of Bathory, they usually think of the first few influential black metal albums, then the folky Viking metal albums and then the very unsuccessful thrash albums ‘Requiem’ and ‘Octagon’. After these Bathory returned to the Viking metal style with ’Blood on Ice’ and the first two parts of the ‘Nordland’ four-album set (the third and final parts were never finished as the band leader Quorthon died before he finished them.) There was also another often much ignored Bathory album released before the ‘Nordland’ albums that mixes both the Viking and thrash styles, ‘Destroyer of Worlds’.
Hidden between the worst albums and the better later Viking metal albums, it is easy to see how ‘Destroyer of Worlds’ has become so ignored. It’s not nearly as consistent as the other late Bathory albums, but while there are some truly abysmal songs on it, when the band return to the Viking metal style they manage to create some of the very best songs of the band’s career. In fact, if all the songs were of this quality we’d probably be looking at the very best Bathory album.
‘Destroyer of Worlds’ opens fantastically with the atmospheric ‘Lake of Fire’. An acoustic guitar plays a haunting riff while a rising backing chant is used to enhance the atmosphere. A distorted guitar soon kicks in and takes over as the main instrument, gradually getting heavier until the catchy, but not at all cheesy, chorus. While Quorthon’s vocals have quite an odd raspy tone that could put some people off, his voice really fit’s the music here.
The next two songs are equally as good. The title track has a great crushing riff throughout, again backed up by backing chants. While the music isn‘t very complex, the simplicity only helps to accentuate the war-like atmosphere. ‘Ode’ is the most epic sounding song on the album, containing a mixture of ‘ Lake of Fire’s’ acoustic guitar melodies and rising chant and also a strong, heavy riff similar to ‘Destroyer of Worlds’.
After these first three tracks, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the whole album would be brilliant. Unfortunately, it suddenly takes a huge dip in quality. The powerful riffs, and chants disappear completely, taking the grand atmosphere along with them. The sound becomes much weaker sounding with poor bland thrash riffs and even worse vocals. Even the lyrics become worse. For some reason Quorthon decided to leave the Viking topic and start singing about completely random subjects that don’t go with each other at all, like ice hockey. Even lyrically it sounds like a completely different album.
It’s amazing that this is the same band, let alone the same album. Quorthon’s vocals seem to deteriorate completely, becoming irritatingly grating. The production really hinders these thrash songs too, muffling the singing and instruments.
Some of these songs occasionally do show some promise but never get close to the level reached by the first few tracks. Instead, they end up sounding very rushed and not well thought out or are destroyed as soon as Quorthon starts singing. Luckily the album does return to form with ‘Pestilence’ and ‘Day of Wrath’, both of which regain the quality and atmosphere of the first few tracks, but you have to get through a lot of rubbish to get to them if you listen the whole way through.
I would love to give it a 3.5 because of the incredible Viking style songs but honestly, it was a pain to listen to this the whole way through because of the horrible thrash. It’s only really worth paying full price for it if you are prepared to press the skip button a lot, but if you can get this album for less money it’s definitely worth having just for the good tracks alone.