It’s Music Monday! Today I’m celebrating the forthcoming release of Thilde Kold Holdt’s Northern Wrath, the first part of The Hanged God trilogy. Music Monday is the creation of Drew at the Tattooed Book Geek, and this is my adapted version of it, in which I pair a book with an appropriate album.
This review contains an affiliate link to Bookshop.org, which will earn me a small commission if used, and will earn independent bookshops a whole lot more.
With multiple viewpoints, epic quests and bloody battles, Northern Wrath certainly doesn’t lack for ambition. This Viking-set adventure blends historical fiction with fantasy and myth seamlessly, as the warriors of Ash Hill set out on their quest for vengeance. Meanwhile, their former skald wanders between worlds, forced to die over and over again as he witnesses the gods enacting the tales he knows so well. His daughter Hilda, who has long dreamt of becoming a shieldmaiden, sets off on a quest of her own, while destiny comes calling for young berserker warrior and son of the chieftain Einar. All are tied together in ways they aren’t necessarily aware of, their destinies playing out across the nine realms as the worlds threaten to drift apart.
I was a big fan of Northern Wrath, calling it “hugely entertaining,” with characters who “live, breathe, sweat and bleed.” You can read my full review here. But what to pair with this tale of gods and men, of battle and myth?
What else? It was only ever going to be Amon Amarth, and it was only ever going to be Twilight of the Thunder God. While vocalist Johan Hegg might acknowledge that it’s unlikely the band play the kind of music that Vikings would actually listen to themselves (this is why bands like Heilung and Wardruna exist), it can’t be denied that they’re injecting myths with a healthy dose of fun and bringing them to life in an extremely entertaining way.
The Swedish melodic death metal scene the band emerged from was fertile breeding ground indeed, spawning the likes of In Flames, Dark Tranquillity and At the Gates. Amon Amarth (whose name comes from the Sindarin name for Mount Doom) would take the blueprint laid down by these hugely influential acts and forge it into something world conquering, becoming probably the biggest melodeath band in the world in the process. With bombast, aggression and an unrelenting fascination with Viking culture and myths, the band penned song after song on the general theme of Norse culture, but it wasn’t until Twilight of the Thunder God – their seventh album – that they broke through in a big way.
Even if some fans might disagree about whether or not it’s their best album (my personal favourite is With Oden on Our Side, in case anyone was asking), it can’t be disputed that it’s their most important. It’s also a huge amount of fun, and stuffed full of historical nuggets. You know, in case you wanted to try and learn whilst you smashed your body to pieces in a wall of death or mosh pit. It’s not without it’s fair share of emotionally stirring moments too, just like Northern Wrath. Take this, for example, from album closer Embrace of the Endless Ocean:
Northern Wrath is published by Solaris, and is out now. You can order your copy through this affiliate link.