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BATHORY - Blood Fire Death cover
4.15 | 43 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1988

Filed under Black Metal


1. Odens Ride Over Nordland (3:00)
2. A Fine Day to Die (8:36)
3. The Golden Walls of Heaven (5:22)
4. Pace 'till Death (3:40)
5. Holocaust (3:25)
6. For All Those Who Died (4:57)
7. Dies Irae (5:12)
8. Blood Fire Death (10:30)
9. [untitled] (0:59)

Total Time: 45:44


- Quorthon / vocals, guitars
- Kothaar / bass
- Vvornth / drums

About this release

Label: Under One Flag / Black Mark
Release date: October 8th, 1988

Recorded in February, 1988, at Heavenshore Studio, Stockholm, Sweden.
Produced by Boss and Quorthon.
Album cover design by Quorthon.
Album cover painting by Peter Nicolai Arbo.
Album fold-up photo by Pelle Mattéus.

Thanks to Vehemency, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Vim Fuego
Listen closely to this album and you will hear simplicity.

Yep, nothing complicated or overly technical here, just a damned fine metal album. One-man-band Quorthon kept the recipe simple. The riffs are basic but memorable. The solos sparing, but effective. Most of the drumming is simple snare/kick with the odd fill, and played at different tempos. Quorthon was not an opera singer, but he put everything into the vocals. There is the odd atmospheric bit, like galloping horses and spectral choirs, but overall, it is pared back to the absolute basics of metal.

You can hear the origins of much of the raw black metal sound of Darkthrone and Mayhem here. Perhaps the biggest difference is Bathory's warmer, fuller production. It seems like Motörhead's philosophy of "everything louder than everything else" put into practice. There is a noticeable static/white noise edge to a number of the guitar parts. When Quorthon lets rip with a throaty growl, like at the beginning of "For All Those Who Died", you can almost imagine the studio sound engineer pulling his hair out as needles and gauges across the studio console redline and overload. A couple of tracks, like “Holocaust” and the title track, are full of mighty Nordic imagery, Viking warriors on a quest for Valhalla, war axes raised high in battle. Moreover, because the music is so simple, it has an air of majesty. It demands attention. This is not background music. You have to notice it; you just don't have a choice. A peek at the lyric sheet hints at a vein of humour hidden in plain sight. Check "Pace Til Death" for example. It is an ode to playing fast and living fast and could have been lifted from a Motley Crüe album. It is impossible to tell from the delivery. In addition, Quorthon has had fun with acrostics on some of the other tracks– take the first letter from each line of the lyrics and you get a message. "The Golden Walls Of Heaven" spells out SATAN repeatedly, while "Dies Irae" gives us the message "CHRIST THE BASTARD SON OF HEAVEN".

Minor silliness aside, 'Blood Fire Death' is an essential album for fans of black and death metal. It is one of those odd releases with a foot firmly in both camps, and can be appreciated by fans of both genres.
Bathory's fourth album is a staggering advance in their sound, which puts their preceding proto-black metal works into the shade. With clearer than ever production bringing out the complex thrash-influenced side of Quorthon's guitar playing, the album sits right on the knife-edge between blackened thrash and "thrashened black", with the lyrical themes leaning more on Viking themes than ever before (though a few Satanic spots creep in here and there). Though Quorthon's vocal performance is, if anything, even more bestial than ever before, Blood Fire Death sees the band moving on to lyrical themes which they clearly take more seriously than the Satanism, vampires and Countess Bathory worship of preceding albums. A classic of the genre.

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