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Bathory

In a musical realm where scale of influence has little to do with commercial success, few originators of the extreme metalartsevoke as deep asense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory.Essentially aone-man operation helmed by themysterious Quorthon, Bathory's development from the rawest form ofembryonic blackmetal, to thrash, death, and back to its self-devised Viking-themed black metal, has mirrored and regularlydefined thegenre's very evolution. Indeed, along with Switzerland's Celtic Frost, Germany'sKreator, and Denmark's MercyfulFate, t ...read more

In a musical realm where scale of influence has little to do with commercial success, few originators of the extreme metalartsevoke as deep asense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory.Essentially aone-man operation helmed by themysterious Quorthon, Bathory's development from the rawest form ofembryonic blackmetal, to thrash, death, and back to its self-devised Viking-themed black metal, has mirrored and regularlydefined thegenre's very evolution. Indeed, along with Switzerland's Celtic Frost, Germany'sKreator, and Denmark's MercyfulFate, theyeasily qualify as one the most important European extreme metal acts of the '80s and '90s. TheSwedish-born multi-instrumentalist Quorthon (also known as Black Spade and/or Ace Shoot, although his real name, Thomas Forsberg, isstillthesubject of debate) formed Bathory in 1983 with sidemen Hanoi (bass) and Vans (drums). These two would soonbeejected, however, just as soonas they'd completed work on two of the best tracks heard on 1984's nowinfamousScandinavian Metal Attack compilation. Influenced by everyform of speed metal known to man at the time (which,admittedly,wasn't much), Bathory soon staked a claim as Scandinavia's answer toMotörhead and Venom (from whose song"CountessBathory" they attained their name). And, like Venom's early work, Bathory too were challengedby the downrightprimitiverecording conditions of Heavenshore Studios (actually a converted car garage and storage space) --limitationswhichinadvertently set the rough, uncompromising template that was later carefully scrutinized and accepted asgospel bygenerations of black metal-metal musicians. In fact, 1984's eponymous debut and its like-minded successor, 1985'sTheReturn were so inaccessible, so unprecedented intheir abrasive anti-commercialism, as to be ahead of their time, carvinganiche all their own within this quickly developing subgenre. Interestingly,the additional curiosity that Bathory rarelyperformedlive (and never, after 1985), and that these recording provided almost no information aboutits constituents (which,asidefrom main man Quorthon, briefly included various anonymous bassists and drummers going by the monikersKothaarandVvornth) only added to their cult-like mystique over time. Not even this promising start was enough to sustainBathory'smomentum withinsuch limited stylistic boundaries, however, and, after exhausting the possibilities of rudimentaryblack metalwith his first two efforts, Quorthonrealized that a creative face-lift was necessary. Sure enough, over the courseof theirthird and fourth albums, 1987's transitional Under the Sign:The Sign of the Black Mark and 1988's watershed BloodFire Death,Bathory re-focused its interests -- away from rock & roll-based arrangementsand towards a more purely Europeanaesthetic.Gradually incorporating symphonic elements drawn from classical music into its black and deathmetal base, by thetime ofBlood Fire Death Quorthon had abandoned most of the rote Satanic/Christian-bashing lyrics of yore, and embracedthepaganthemes and Viking mythology of his ancestors. This anthemic approach culminated in what many consider to beBathory'sfinest hour,1990's landmark concept opus Hammerheart. Part quantum leap, part continuation of Blood Fire Death'ssketches,the album in no way recalledBathory's humble origins, and provided the archetype for 1991's nearly-as-reveredTwilight of theGods, to boot. Confirming the impact of thisvision, these three works helped ignite a surge of patriotismthrough music forcountless Scandinavian youths, who subsequently begancelebrating their pre-Catholicism cultural heritage.Sadly, whilecommendable for encouraging a self-contained and highly inventive local scene(featuring Mayhem, Emperor,Darkthrone etal.), this movement also sowed the seeds for future acts of hateful vandalism (as ghoulish as theywere absurd)and outrightmurder at the hands of a small extreme contingent. Ironically, Quorthon himself had by now grown weary ofthestereotypesand artistic trappings of the revolution he'd helped galvanize. Feeling uninspired to write any new music in thatvein, heabruptlyannounced Bathory's demise and spent the next two years compiling the Jubileum, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol.3collections. When his desire tocompose finally did return, the music he came up with was so unlike anything everreleasedunder the Bathory banner, that he chose to put out1994's simply named Album under the Quorthon moniker instead.Filledwith surprisingly straightforward alternative rock, the record neverthelessrevitalized Quorthon's interest in heavy metal,and anew Bathory L.P, Requiem (released later that year), saw a return to the simple, brutal thrashmetal ofyesteryear.Subsequent Bathory efforts gradually upped the ante once again, as longer songs and more complex death,black, andevenindustrial metal elements were cautiously added to the mix for 1995's Octagon. In turn, 1996's ultra-doomy,Conan theBarbarian-inspired Blood onIce marked a return to the Viking metal style, and offered a retooled collection ofpreviouslyabandoned sessions from seven years earlier. But,besides proving that this epic style was back in his plans, thealbum'sgreatest reward may have lain in the extensive liner notes penned byQuorthon. These not only explained the longoverduealbum's release, but also revealed a significant amount of information about Bathory's untilthen very murky history -- almostto the point of upsetting older fans' long-held theories and expectations of their hero, ironically enough.1997'ssecondQuorthon set, the double disc Purity of Essence, arrived next, and again served as a repository for non-Bathory-like ideas;and the thirdinstallment of the Jubileum 'best of' series arrived a year later to close yet another chapter,and signal anotherextended layoff. Inevitably,however, Quorthon resurrected Bathory once again in 2001; his new albumDestroyer of Worldsinaugurating a new phase at first characterized bya more streamlined, rock-oriented approach, whilestriking a maturebalance with the grand scope of works past. But those Viking inclinations wereonce again brought to the foreon thesubsequent, twin-album project Nordland, part one of which was released in late 2002, and part twoarriving in2003.Unfortunately, this return to both the style and form of old glory would prove to be Bathory's swan song, when, withanumber ofas-yet-unreleased demos already under his belt, Thomas Forsberg -- the living black metal legend knownasQuorthon -- was found dead in hisStockholm apartment on June 7, 2004, apparently a victim of heart failure. With hisdeath,so dies Bathory, although there is no doubt that hiscareer-long record label Black Mark (owned and operated byQuorthon'sfather) will eventually unveil any unreleased Bathory material which maystill lie in their vaults. « hide

Similar Bands: Celtic Frost, Emperor, Venom, Graveland, Moonsorrow

LPs
Nordland II
2003

3.4
143 Votes
Nordland I
2002

3.7
177 Votes
Destroyer of Worlds
2001

2.4
100 Votes
Blood on Ice
1996

3.7
177 Votes
Octagon
1995

1.6
171 Votes
Requiem
1994

2.2
122 Votes
Twilight of the Gods
1991

3.8
255 Votes
Hammerheart
1990

4.2
461 Votes
Blood Fire Death
1988

4.4
716 Votes
Under the Sign of the Black Mark
1987

4.2
434 Votes
The Return......
1985

3.7
267 Votes
Bathory
1984

3.9
446 Votes
Compilations
Katalog
2001

3.2
7 Votes
Jubileum Volume III
1998

3.5
13 Votes
Jubileum Volume II
1993

4
10 Votes
Jubileum Volume I
1993

3.9
12 Votes

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