Jubileum, Vol. 3

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The third installment of Bathory's retrospective Jubileum series is at once very similar and quite distinct from its two predecessors. Like them, it showcases some of the Swedish black metal pioneers' best moments, along with unearthed, previously unheard rarities; but, while volumes one and two covered the same historical period (1984-1991), Jubileum, Vol. 3 focuses on the subsequent era of Bathory's evolution, a brief but convoluted spell from 1994 to 1996. Often regarded as a time of confused rediscovery, this era effectively marked the un-retirement of Bathory mastermind Quorthon, and the three albums profiled on Jubileum, Vol. 3 clearly reflect his search for a new direction even whilst revisiting various angles of his past exploits. The selections from 1994's comeback Requiem, for instance, (including "War Machine," "Pax Vobiscum," and the particularly memorable "Crosstitution") tend to filter the bludgeoning, unrefined black metal typical of the band's first albums through a seldom used death metal prism. Only two examples from 1995's very spotty Octagon ("Immaculate Pinetreeroad #930" and "Sociopath") make the cut here; and with good reason, since their deconstructed husks of punk and thrash suggest a truly lost Quorthon, and come corroded by the worst production values of Bathory's career -- and that's saying something! Thankfully, the three impressive offerings from 1996's Blood on Ice ("The Lake," "The Stallion" and the über-anthemic "Gods of Thunder, of Wind and of Rain") manage a stirring return to form by rekindling the embers of Viking metal glory which many consider Bathory's greatest achievements. As for those aforesaid rarities, they range from primordial near-demos like "Satan my Master" and the brilliantly raw "Witchcraft" (both from 1984), to an unused instrumental theme (the wonderfully perverse "In Nomine Satanas"), to assorted Octagon session outtakes ("Resolution Greed" and "Genocide": better than the LP choices), to a true curiosity: a portion of the multi-tracked backing vocals heard on the Hammerheart classic "Valhalla." In summary, whilst most would agree that Jubileum, Vol. 3 covers a relatively subpar slice of Bathory's long career, this also makes it an ideal purchase for less than devout listeners wishing to sample the crème de la crème from these albums in a single-disc collection.

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