Category Archives: Bathory

Hammerheart-BATHORY-1990


Hammerheart is Blood, Fire, Death done on an even wider, more epic and grander proto-black metal fashion. It also signifies the birth of viking metal as a sub-sub genre in extreme metal. Refer the review of the preceding album. I’ve nothing much to add other than a few minor notes.

Quorthon should have entrusted the clean vocalist part to someone else. His voice sounds weak and struggles to make an impact which is fitting for the guitarwork and the unearthly male choir which lies buried underneath. Otherwise the songwriting is truly war like and magnificent. There have been many clones since but the TDSR rule is that the original equals the best. The ambience created is unforgettable and complements the whole viking concept and aura. Essential Bathory.

-Baba T


Under the Sign of the Black Mark-BATHORY-1987


Under the Sign of the Black Mark was the last album to feature primitive, raw black metal before Bathory went for the much better epic-viking metal songs on Blood Fire Death. So the question is do you really relish bad production, unsteady tempos, trebly thin guitars and harsh screams? Sure, this album lays down the blueprint for the primitive form of black metal followed by the Norwegians for the better part of the 90’s (Darkthrone’s “Transvilian Hunger”, Immortal’s “Pure Holocaust”, Emperor’s “Anthems to the Welkin at Dusk” being some examples) and it ain’t half a hoot but if you ask me, he was much better at Viking Metal. Songs like “Equimanthorn” belong in the trash bin of honored but irrelevant history if you ask me. However, here I started noticing that the lead guitar parts are much better than the ones on the debut and its sophomore effort. Also, Quorthon started understanding that a change of tempos once in a while is necessary to vary the monotonous raging hyperblasts and tremolo riffs. This results in some songs that are worth hearing which upgrades the status of this release from “Historical but irrelevant, therefore ignore”, to “Recommended with reservations to all heavy music fans, especially recommended to raw black metal fans”. If you are not a heavy music fan, then stick with your Justin Bieber and Kesha bullshit, assholes!!

Recommended Songs – Call of the Grave (spooky in a humorous manner), Enter the Eternal Fire(the centerpiece of the album, an epic song which you cannot ignore.Period.)

-Baba T

 


Blood, Fire, Death-BATHORY-1988


Bathory is another (the other one which I reviewed on TDSR was Burzum, but that’s Norway) Swedish one-man band from the height of the black metal era of the late 80’s-early 90’s, which was run by some guy known as Quorthon. Bathory’s music, at least on here, seems proto-black metal, rather than pure black metal which is to be found in the music of later (Bathory came a mite earlier than the most famous of the black metal practitioners-1983) contemporaries like Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum, Emperor et all (all bands which will be reviewed on TDSR, just gimme time). Of course, 1988 was a little early for the normal black metal characteristics (check my review of Hvis Lyset Tar Oss) to develop, but we can see the origin of the style in this album, Bathory can be said to be the true pioneers of the genre.

Beautiful Imagery..I likes...

The vocals, rather than the usual tortured screams, are sung (yes, sung) in a sort of rasping growl by Quorthorn, and many times you can understand what he is actually singing. Of course, the fact that they are in English helps. (remember, key black metal bands are to be found in Scandinivia rather than the States, Florida is to death metal what Norway is to black metal). The drum programming employed by Bathory does utilize blast beats at times, but mostly the drumming is slower than average (with respect to black metal), and the blast beats when they do happen are subdued and muffled. The vocals and the guitars are way up in the mix. The subject matter is related to Vikings, this later became known as Viking Metal.

Now that we are done with the useless preliminaries, lets get down to it. Is it any good?

You betcher.

The must hear songs on this disc are the first two-the title track and A Fine Day to Die. For almost 20 mins Bathory touches highs they (or he) never again touched in their career. Some of black metal’s shining moments of glory are on display here. The riffs are melodic (yes melodic), there is excellent use of other instruments (studio trickery I call it) like keyboards to enhance the atmosphere, those are only apparent if you listen very carefully, since it is black metal ( or proto black metal) everything is drowned out by the wall of sound the guitar creates. Ohh, and there are solos too. Yes. Solos. Something rare in black metal. However, the good thing is that before we segue into those songs we have the atmospheric mood setter “Odens Ride over Nordland” which has horses neighing and galloping all over the place. Nice touch.

These songs were the indication as to what was to follow on the subsequent album which followed this, Hammerheart. This was the epic Viking songwriting technique which Quorthon later on perfected. The remaining songs are more Slayer-esque, in the earlier style of Bathory (the debut more specifically) and less epic. Not that effective for me.

Black Metal in the 90’s had become mostly a counter culture breeding ground, the home for people who wanted to “break out”, a place for people to voice their dissent against religion. Of course, this went extreme and resulted in a large number of church burnings. The musicians who created this music were mostly mad, were viewed as harbouring pro-Nazi, anti-homosexual inclinations. Check this, Samoth of Emperor murdered a homo, next day he went off with Varg Vikernes (Burzum) to burn a church. Aarseith of Mayhem committed suicide inside the house that the band shared, and left a note saying “Sorry for the blood”. The band photographed this and used it for an album cover. One year later Euroynomous of Mayhem was murdered by Varg. He was found with 38 knife wounds on his body. Also, Varg is out free as of today and planning to release an album called “The White God”.

And when I tell you that I have just scratched the surface, you might understand the level of depravity that prevailed in black metal circles in the 90’s. These people weren’t pretending to be insane, they were.

Recommendation-This was one of the albums where you can see the formation blueprint for later formation of the essential black metal style. Influential status aside, the songs are very well constructed and are essential for the black metal-head, and recommended for a casual metal fan also.

-Baba T

More METAL reviews HERE.


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