Bathory
Blood on Ice


3.5
great

Review

by Kyle Ward EMERITUS
December 20th, 2009 | 58 replies


Release Date: 1996 | Tracklist


In the winter of 1995, it was safe to assume that Bathory mastermind Quorthon was feeling a bit silly. After the release of the critically demolished album Octagon, he probably felt the pressure to do something drastic to bring his once heralded band back on track. So, from the thrash metal sound of Octagon and Requiem, Quorthon decided to revert back to the genre he almost single-handedly created. Released in a timely seven months after Octagon was put out, it shows both Quorthon’s hasty retreat back into a place where he felt that he could record best as well as a further refinement on the sounds of Hammerheart and Twilight Of The Gods. As 1996’s Blood On Ice was released, it let fans of Bathory breathe a heavy sigh of relief, because the Viking metal returned in fine form.

Blood On Ice was actually recorded in 1989, and was intended to be the fifth installment in Bathory’s discography. Instead, Quorthon scrapped the album in fear that it too drastically shifted from his tried and true Viking/black metal combination which was found on Blood Fire Death and Under The Sign Of The Black Mark. Instead, Blood On Ice was left unfinished and unreleased until Quorthon was backed into a corner with Octagon, and so finally the project was re-recorded and unleashed to the metal world. The album fits perfectly in with the Viking era of Bathory circa the early 1990’s. The songs, however, remain relatively short in comparison to the ten-plus minute epics of Hammerheart and Twilight Of The Gods. The tracks average about five or five and a half minutes, but still pack an array of powerful riffs and epic solos, as well as numerous samplings of outside material which adds to the “story” of the album, serving as wonderful atmospheric touches.

Acoustic guitars lay the stage for the distortion of the electrics, coupled with Quorthon’s much improved clean vocals which, unlike his previous efforts, don’t flow wildly into unwanted octaves and leave behind the awkward choirs of songs such as “Baptized In Fire And Ice”. Instead we are met with mid-paced tracks focusing on quality instead of lengthy shots for that “epic” atmosphere from earlier in Bathory’s recording career. However, the side effect of this is that with the increase in quality came the atmosphere, except without the ten or twenty minute track lengths. The wonderful and surprising acoustic ballad “The Ravens” shows how Bathory’s sound has matured, but sometimes maturity doesn’t result for the better. While the entire album doesn’t remain consistent in terms of engaging material for the listener (some tracks are dreadfully overdrawn, like the interesting but unneeded latter half of “One Eyed Old Man”) but for the most part Blood On Ice shows how, with a bit of inspiration from previously written material, Quorthon has found his sound again.

The production is marginally decent, leaving the guitars in the background in favor of the powerful emphasis placed on the drums. The side effect of this is that, while the drums are perfectly produced for the type of music being played, the guitar riffs are woefully under-produced and leave you straining to find the melody in the overbearing reverb of chords. The acoustic guitars are, thankfully, quite the opposite and add great effect to the songs in which they are placed. Blood On Ice is a fine example of how you can achieve an epic atmosphere without the aid of keyboards which usually end up ruining the very atmosphere they set out to create. Instead, drums, guitars, and vocals solely achieve this brilliant effect on the listener to get up and knock something over while drinking absurd amounts of mead, something which precious few bands aside from Bathory can achieve.

Blood On Ice is wholly a success, but is still far from perfect. The same sound noted on this record continue for the rest of Quorthon’s life, ending with Nordland II. While the music is undeniably enjoyable and well-written, it lacks the punch which was put forth on Hammerheart, and the ferocity of Blood Fire Death. For anyone other than Bathory, this record would be a crowning achievement. However, when you slap Bathory’s name on this material, and then look back on Quorthon’s older material, you’ll find that your drunken Viking escapades you and your buddies unleashed on unsuspecting villages while listening to Blood On Ice just aren’t the same as before. Close, but not quite the real thing.



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Fly my Ravens...



Comments:Add a Comment 
Crysis
Emeritus
December 20th 2009


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"The Ravens" remains as one of my favorite Bathory tracks, however. That song was totally unexpected.

Crysis
Emeritus
December 20th 2009


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

So if you love Viking-era Bathory is this worth it to check out?


Absolutely



Same for Under the Sign.


This album isn't black metal at all, so if you strictly liked Under The Sign... for the black metal elements then I'm not sure if you'd like this. But if you haven't heard Under The Sign then I highly suggest listening to it.

BallsToTheWall
December 20th 2009


49325 Comments


Havent heard this but I might.

Digging: Amelia Arsenic - Queen of Risk

Hawks
December 20th 2009


67673 Comments


Album is good. Wasn't too impressive, but still good.

Digging: Cara Neir - Part III / Part IV

rasputin
December 20th 2009


14968 Comments


heil the rise of quorthon

FadeToBlack
December 21st 2009


11044 Comments


good review, pretty much agree with you

myhigherpie
December 21st 2009


3029 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

drunken viking escapades =D

jingledeath
December 21st 2009


7101 Comments


only have 2 Bathory albums, I definitely need to get a few more.

BallsToTheWall
December 21st 2009


49325 Comments


Which 2 albums?

jingledeath
December 21st 2009


7101 Comments


Blood Fire Death and Hammerheart. Gonna have to get this and Under the Sign of the Black Mark sometime soon.

FadeToBlack
December 21st 2009


11044 Comments


get Bathory and Twilight Of The Gods as well

Relinquished
December 21st 2009


39050 Comments


I have the first 5, except The Return.

Crysis
Emeritus
December 21st 2009


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

The Return... really isn't anything special. I think Under The Sign Of The Black Mark is the best from his black metal days though.

SuicideVeil90
May 21st 2010


44 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The Woodwoman one of the best songs of Bathory.

FadeToBlack
June 12th 2010


11044 Comments


I THROW MY EYES
INTO THE LAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE

BloodBathed
January 12th 2011


18 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"The Woodwoman one of the best songs of Bathory."



Must agree also To Enter Your Mountain among my favourites







scorpionatorizer
July 2nd 2011


166 Comments


album is underrated as fuck

FR33L0RD
August 10th 2011


1474 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

IMHO, musically creative & good but vocally unsatisfying.

Crysis
Emeritus
August 10th 2011


17368 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Haven't listened to this in a while probably should because it rules

FR33L0RD
August 10th 2011


1474 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In a sense it does rule.

Honestly, i have a strange mix bag feeling about this band in general.

But, the more i dig it, the more i understand the hidden treasure in it.



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