Criminally underrated, Ep. I: HADES – DAWN OF THE DYING SUN

Hades - Dawn of the dying sunConsidering time, place and circumstances of HADES’ heyday in the mid-90ies it’s really surprising how unknown this Norwegian Black Metal band is – relatively of course, since it is surely a familiar name among trve metalheads. But in most of the many books, articles and blog posts that deal with the second wave of Black Metal, and especially the activities around the infamous Black Circle, Bergen’s HADES get mentioned only very rarely. The fact they had to change their name into HADES ALMIGHTY in 1998 only adds up to their obscurity. So whatever the reasons for their little popularity really are, it’s undeniable. Read on for the full review and the track Alone Walkyng!

You can only wonder why, since HADES’ members were definitely an integrated part of the Norwegian scene back then. Jørn Inge Tunsberg, founding member alongside drummer Remi, played guitar in Immortal before initiating HADES. More importantly, he served a prison term for burning the Åsane church in 1992 – along with Varg Vikernes. 2011 Tunsberg pointed out in an interview with the German Legacy magazine, that he still stands behind that act. Anyway, you can hardly say HADES existed somehow isolated from the rest of the Norwegian scene.

For many people (including myself), Dawn of the Dying Sun, released in 1997, is the band’s masterpiece. Recorded in June and July 1996 at the famous Grieghallen studios, this album is standing on the cold shoulders of Black Metal, yet leaning heavily towards the good side of Viking and/or Pagan Metal (yes, there is a good side!).

HADES deliver a great bunch of epic melodies and deploy folkloric instruments like flutes, a jaw harp, acoustic guitars or even violins. But contrary to a lot of bands that draw on folk-laden influences, HADES maintain an aggressive atmosphere throughout the eight songs on Dawn of the Dying Sun. But this album works multidimensional: The aggressiveness is accompanied by a very hymnic feeling that carries you away on wooden longships, on dangerous journeys to unseen shores and the foggy legends of the North. As cliché as this might sound, as awesome it is and way more gripping than the output of 99% of the so called Viking Metal there is.

But the biggest difference between HADES and their contemporaries in my opinion isn’t the fact that they use folkloric instruments or focus on Pagan themes – other Black Metal bands were/are as well working with similar elements. I think the main distinction is the sound of the record itself, the way it is produced. Whereas bands like, let’s say Immortal, are heavily based on a very harsh, icy sound, that makes you almost physically feel the ice storms in the moonlit nights of the North, Dawn of the Dying Sun evokes quite different pictures in my head. Pictures of vast forests in the midsummer sun, forgotten fjords in the bright morning light and treeless mountain tops of the Norwegian Trolltindan come to mind, endless days of isolation and pure natural magik – maybe I’m the only person who thinks so, but this subjective impression is what really makes the difference for me and Dawn of the Dying Sun such an incredible record.

Although HADES aren’t mentioned too often when the talk’s about the second wave of Black Metal, Dawn Of A Dying Sun belongs without question in your record collection next to De Mysteriis Dom Satanas, A Blaze In The Northern Sky, Frost or In The Nightside Eclipse. A trve masterpiece it surely is.

Release date: 1997
Label: Full Moon Productions
Recorded at: Grieghallen, June and July 1996
Janto Garmanslund: vocals, bass, guitars
Jørn Inge Tunsberg: guitars, keyboards
Stig Hagenes: guitars
Remi Andersen: drums, vocals


Under the banner of Criminally underrated I write about, well, criminally underrated records of all genres. This is the first episode of that series.

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