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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 asense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory. Essentially a one-man operation helmed by themysterious 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'sKreator, and Denmark's Mercyfu ...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 asense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory. Essentially a one-man operation helmed by themysterious 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'sKreator, and Denmark's Mercyful Fate, they easily 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, is still thesubject of debate) formed Bathory in 1983 with sidemen Hanoi (bass) and Vans (drums). These two would soon be ejected, however, just as soonas they'd completed work on two of the best tracks heard on 1984's now infamous Scandinavian 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 "Countess Bathory" they attained their name). And, like Venom's early work, Bathory too were challengedby the downright primitive recording conditions of Heavenshore Studios (actually a converted car garage and storage space) -- limitations whichinadvertently 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's The Return were so inaccessible, so unprecedented intheir abrasive anti-commercialism, as to be ahead of their time, carving a niche all 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 aboutits constituents (which, aside from main man Quorthon, briefly included various anonymous bassists and drummers going by the monikers Kothaarand Vvornth) only added to their cult-like mystique over time. Not even this promising start was enough to sustain Bathory's momentum withinsuch limited stylistic boundaries, however, and, after exhausting the possibilities of rudimentary black metal with his first two efforts, Quorthonrealized 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 Blood Fire Death, Bathory re-focused its interests -- away from rock & roll-based arrangementsand towards a more purely European aesthetic. Gradually incorporating symphonic elements drawn from classical music into its black and deathmetal base, by the time of Blood Fire Death Quorthon had abandoned most of the rote Satanic/Christian-bashing lyrics of yore, and embraced thepagan 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 recalledBathory's humble origins, and provided the archetype for 1991's nearly-as-revered Twilight of the Gods, to boot. Confirming the impact of thisvision, these three works helped ignite a surge of patriotism through music for countless Scandinavian youths, who subsequently begancelebrating their pre-Catholicism cultural heritage. Sadly, while commendable for encouraging a self-contained and highly inventive local scene(featuring Mayhem, Emperor, Darkthrone et al.), this movement also sowed the seeds for future acts of hateful vandalism (as ghoulish as theywere absurd) and outright murder at the hands of a small extreme contingent. Ironically, Quorthon himself had by now grown weary of thestereotypes and artistic trappings of the revolution he'd helped galvanize. Feeling uninspired to write any new music in that vein, he abruptlyannounced Bathory's demise and spent the next two years compiling the Jubileum, Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3 collections. When his desire tocompose finally did return, the music he came up with was so unlike anything ever released under the Bathory banner, that he chose to put out1994's simply named Album under the Quorthon moniker instead. Filled with surprisingly straightforward alternative rock, the record neverthelessrevitalized Quorthon's interest in heavy metal, and a new Bathory L.P, Requiem (released later that year), saw a return to the simple, brutal thrashmetal of yesteryear. Subsequent Bathory efforts gradually upped the ante once again, as longer songs and more complex death, black, and evenindustrial metal elements were cautiously added to the mix for 1995's Octagon. In turn, 1996's ultra-doomy, Conan the Barbarian-inspired Blood onIce marked a return to the Viking metal style, and offered a retooled collection of previously abandoned sessions from seven years earlier. But,besides proving that this epic style was back in his plans, the album's greatest reward may have lain in the extensive liner notes penned byQuorthon. These not only explained the long overdue album's release, but also revealed a significant amount of information about Bathory's untilthen very murky history -- almost to the point of upsetting older fans' long-held theories and expectations of their hero, ironically enough. 1997'ssecond Quorthon 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 another extended layoff. Inevitably,however, Quorthon resurrected Bathory once again in 2001; his new album Destroyer of Worlds inaugurating a new phase at first characterized bya more streamlined, rock-oriented approach, while striking a mature balance with the grand scope of works past. But those Viking inclinations wereonce again brought to the fore on the subsequent, twin-album project Nordland, part one of which was released in late 2002, and part twoarriving in 2003. Unfortunately, this return to both the style and form of old glory would prove to be Bathory's swan song, when, with a number ofas-yet-unreleased demos already under his belt, Thomas Forsberg -- the living black metal legend known as Quorthon -- was found dead in hisStockholm apartment on June 7, 2004, apparently a victim of heart failure. With his death, so dies Bathory, although there is no doubt that hiscareer-long record label Black Mark (owned and operated by Quorthon's father) will eventually unveil any unreleased Bathory material which maystill lie in their vaults. « hide

Similar Bands: Celtic Frost, Darkthrone, Venom, Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer

LPs
Nordland II
2003

3.4
130 Votes
Nordland I
2002

3.6
164 Votes
Destroyer of Worlds
2001

2.5
93 Votes
Blood on Ice
1996

3.7
163 Votes
Octagon
1995

1.6
153 Votes
Requiem
1994

2.2
110 Votes
Twilight of the Gods
1991

3.8
231 Votes
Hammerheart
1990

4.2
433 Votes
Blood Fire Death
1988

4.4
662 Votes
Under the Sign of the Black Mark
1987

4.2
395 Votes
The Return......
1985

3.7
241 Votes
Bathory
1984

3.9
401 Votes
Compilations
Katalog
2001

3.6
6 Votes
Jubileum Volume III
1998

3.6
12 Votes
Jubileum Volume II
1993

4.1
9 Votes
Jubileum Volume I
1993

4
11 Votes

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