Review Summary: This is were it all started.
When you're talking classic black metal bands, one of the first ones that probably comes to your mind is Bathory. They set the standards for how a black metal album should be made. Even though Venom coined the phrase ”black metal”, they weren't really black metal. At least the type of black metal that we see today. Bathory were a little closer to current days black metal with a production that's garbage (in a good way), shrieking vocals, satanic lyrics and an eerie atmosphere.
This album is not really black metal, but more like thrash metal album. However, it does contain elements of a proper black metal album.
Bathory started with a lineup containing Thomas ”Quorthon” Forsberg on guitar and vocals, Fredrick ”Freddan” Melander on bass and Jonas ”Vans McBurger” Åkerlund on drums. They got their first chance to show what they could do in 1983. Because one band backed out the last minute they were allowed to record two songs and put them on the album, Scandinavian Metal Attack. They got a lot of fan mail so they were allowed to record a full studio album in 1984. Melander and Åkerlund quited the band so Quorthon hired Rickard ”Ribban” Bergman on bass and Stefan Larsson on drums. And what they made, was a masterpiece of extreme metal.
Before I get to the songs I want to comment on the cover art. It's basically just a goat and text spelling ”BATHORY”. There have been small changes to the goat. The re-release has red eyes and that's about it. There were also copies of the album were the goat was yellow. However, only 1000 copies of the album had the yellow goat, so since then it has become a collectors item. At first I thought it was Baphomet, but he doesn’t look like that. Then I thought it was The Devil, but it still didn't look like him, either. Then I realized. It's just a goat.
I just want to say that this is all my opinion, so don't go crazy if you don't agree.
Now, let's look at the songs! (All songs written by Quorthon).
1. Storm of Damnation/Intro. It's very hard to comment on since it's just sounds. It sounds like it's a windstorm, but it could anything. Some might say it's boring, but I think it's a perfect intro to the album. I love atmospheric tracks. Sadly, because it's just sounds, it doesn’t have that much re-listening value, so I usually skip to Hades when I listen to this album. But, a strong intro, non the less. (4/5).
2. Hades. This was the first Bathory song I ever heard. And IMO, it kicks ass. The riff is very easy to headbang to and the drumming is very simple. And that is what I like about this album. It's simple. Sometimes you just need a break from the super technical guitarwork and drums that you would hear in bands like Nile or Cryptopsy. But, then again, Bathory and Nile are two completely different from each other. Sadly, the bass is almost impossible to hear, which suck. At least for me. While listening, I noticed that the structure of this song is very similar to Venom's Black Metal. Anyway, this is a track you should not skip. (4,5/5).
3. Reaper. Another great song. Quorthon shrieks in this song which sounds great. Just like Hades, the riff is great. There is even a solo in here. The drums have more variety in this song than in Hades which is great. I could hear the bass better here, so that's a thumbs up. It's one of my favorite songs of this album. (5/5).
4. Necromancy. A great headbanger. It has contains some of the best guitarwork on this album, catchy drum beats and a bass which you can hear sometimes. The vocals are perfect. They match the tone and music of this track perfectly. I don't have much to say about this that I didn't say before. This is another favorite of mine. (5/5).
5. Sacrifice. This one is the closest to black metal that this album gets. It has the best riff out of all of the tracks on this album IMO. And a very good solo. It sounds a litte sorrow full at times which I like. The bass is very audible and Ribban is very good in this song. The drums are also great. The vocals are also perfect in this song. Quorthon unleashes some surprisingly good screams during this track. This was one of the tracks that were on Scandinavian Metal Attack. The other one was The Return Of Darkness and Evil. It's another awesome track that you must listen to. (5/5).
6. In conspiracy with Satan. This song doesn’t bull*** around. It gives you non stop black metal from beginning to end. It has a very nice riff with some really fast paced drumming. You can hear the bass okay, but it isn't that clear. To me, the song is a little bit repetitive and not as interesting as some other tracks on this album. Overall, a solid track. (4/5).
7. Armageddon. This song was a step upward from the previous track. It contained more variation and a more audible bass. Around 1:20 a small bass solo kicks in and it sounds great. The riff was good, but by now, the songs can sound very similar. The drums were also good. It ends with a fade out, which personally, I'm not a fan of, but it works. (4.5/5).
8. Raise The Dead. It begins with some creepy bell ringing, a heartbeat can also be heard and afterward a great riff kicks in. This is without question the most eerie track on this album. The vocals are really bone chilling and so are the rest of the instruments. It has an awesome solo and ends with a scary gong. Another favorite of mine. (5/5).
9. War. It begins with the same riff from Reaper which is not that good. However, if you can get past that, this is a really good song. The vocals are really aggressive and drums are still pretty good. But by now, you probably wanted some more variety with them. But Larsson only had one tom, a snare, one crash, one bass drum and one hi-hat, so it can't be easy to vary the drumming. It also has a pretty good solo and ends very abruptly. It's still worth listening to. (4/5).
10. The Winds of Mayhem/Outro. When you hear this sound, you will think back during your listening of this album and think: ”Wow”. It's a perfect end to the album and was featured on every album up until Hammerheart. It was actually also featured on Nordland II. Fitting that it was the last Bathory album. (4/5)
Very simple and short.
A creepy atmosphere throughout the entire album.
A really ***ty production (in a good way).
Songs can get repetitive.
For me, the standout tracks are Reaper, Necromancy, Sacrifice and Raise The Dead.
Averages out to a 4,5, so it gets a 4,5/5. If you haven't listened to it you definitly should. It's a classic.