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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 metal arts evoke as deep a sense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory. Essentially a one-man operation helmed by the mysterious Quorthon, Bathory's development from the rawest form of embryonic black metal, to thrash, death, and back to its self. devised Viking-themed black metal, has mirrored and regularly defined the genre's very evolution. Indeed, along with Switzerland's Celtic Frost, Germany's Kreator, and Denmark's Mer ...read more

In a musical realm where scale of influence has little to do with commercial success, few originators of the extreme metal arts evoke as deep a sense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory. Essentially a one-man operation helmed by the mysterious Quorthon, Bathory's development from the rawest form of embryonic black metal, to thrash, death, and back to its self. devised Viking-themed black metal, has mirrored and regularly defined the genre's very evolution. Indeed, along with Switzerland's Celtic Frost, Germany's Kreator, and Denmark's Mercyful Fate, they easily qualify as one the most important European extreme metal acts of the '80s and '90s. The Swedish-born multi-instrumentalist Quorthon (also known as Black Spade and/or Ace Shoot, although his real name, Thomas Forsberg, is still the subject of debate) formed Bathory in 1983 with sidemen Hanoi (bass) and Vans (drums). These two would soon be ejected, however, just as soon as they'd completed work on two of thebest tracks heard on 1984's now infamous Scandinavian Metal Attack compilation. Influenced by every form of speed metal known to man at the time(which,admittedly,wasn't much), Bathory soon staked a claim as Scandinavia's answer to Motörhead and Venom (from whose song"Countess Bathory"they attained their name). And, like Venom's early work, Bathory too were challenged by the downright primitive recording conditions of Heavenshore Studios (actually a converted car garage and storage space) --limitations which inadvertently set the rough, uncompromising template that was later carefully scrutinized and accepted as gospel by generations of black metal-metal musicians. In fact, 1984's eponymous debut and its like-minded successor, 1985'sThe Return were so inaccessible, so unprecedented in their abrasive anti-commercialism, as to be ahead of their time, carving an icheall their own within this quickly developing subgenre. Interestingly,the additional curiosity that Bathory rarely performed live (and never, after 1985),and that these recording provided almost no information about its constituents (which,aside from main man Quorthon, briefly included various anonymous bassists and drummers going by the monikers Kothaar and Vvornth) only added to their cult-like mystique over time. Not even this promising start was enough to sustain Bathory's momentum within such limited stylistic boundaries, however, and, after exhausting the possibilities of rudimentary black metal with his first two efforts, Quorthon realized that a creative face-lift was necessary. Sure enough, over the course of their third 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 arrangements and towards a more purely Europeanaesthetic.Gradually incorporating symphonic elements drawn from classical music into its black and death metal base, by thetime ofBlood Fire Death Quorthon had abandoned most of the rote Satanic/Christian-bashing lyrics of yore, and embraced the pagan themes and Viking mythology of his ancestors. This anthemic approach culminated in what many consider to be Bathory's finest hour,1990's landmark concept opus Hammerheart. Part quantum leap, part continuation of Blood Fire Death's sketches,the album in no way recalled Bathory's humble origins, and provided the archetype for 1991's nearly-as-reveredTwilight of theGods, toboot. Confirming the impact of thisvision, these three works helped ignite a surge of patriotismthrough music forcountless Scandinavian youths, whosubsequently begancelebrating their pre-Catholicism cultural heritage.Sadly, whilecommendable for encouraging a self-contained and highly inventivelocal scene(featuring Mayhem, Emperor,Darkthrone etal.), this movement also sowed the seeds for future acts of hateful vandalism (as ghoulish astheywere absurd)and outrightmurder at the hands of a small extreme contingent. Ironically, Quorthon himself had by now grown wearyofthestereotypesand 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 desiretocompose finally did return, the music he came up with was so unlike anything everreleasedunder the Bathory banner, that he chose to put out1994'ssimply named Album under the Quorthon moniker instead.Filledwith surprisingly straightforward alternative rock, the record neverthelessrevitalizedQuorthon's interest in heavy metal,and anew Bathory L.P, Requiem (released later that year), saw a return to the simple, brutal thrashmetalofyesteryear.Subsequent Bathory efforts gradually upped the ante once again, as longer songs and more complex death,black, andevenindustrialmetal elements were cautiously added to the mix for 1995's Octagon. In turn, 1996's ultra-doomy,Conan theBarbarian-inspired Blood onIce marked areturn to the Viking metal style, and offered a retooled collection ofpreviouslyabandoned sessions from seven years earlier. But,besides proving thatthis epic style was back in his plans, thealbum'sgreatest reward may have lain in the extensive liner notes penned byQuorthon. These not onlyexplained 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 doubledisc 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 onceagain 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 andform 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) willeventually unveil any unreleased Bathory material which maystill lie in their vaults. « hide

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

LPs
Nordland II
2003

3.5
156 Votes
Nordland I
2002

3.7
193 Votes
Destroyer of Worlds
2001

2.4
117 Votes
Blood on Ice
1996

3.7
189 Votes
Octagon
1995

1.6
204 Votes
Requiem
1994

2.2
149 Votes
Twilight of the Gods
1991

3.8
275 Votes
Hammerheart
1990

4.2
511 Votes
Blood Fire Death
1988

4.4
812 Votes
Under the Sign of the Black Mark
1987

4.2
507 Votes
The Return......
1985

3.7
308 Votes
Bathory
1984

3.9
511 Votes
Compilations
Katalog
2001

2.9
9 Votes
Jubileum Volume III
1998

3.3
17 Votes
Jubileum Volume II
1993

3.7
14 Votes
Jubileum Volume I
1993

3.6
16 Votes

Contributors: SharkTooth, forkliftjones, oltnabrick, rockandmetaljunkie, leviathan82, austin888, Hawks, Meatplow, Mags172, rattlehead42147, Apocalyptic Raids, Alex101, Med57, adr, Deathunger, FictionalFlames, Insurrection, Ponton, Crysis,

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