BATHORY — Bathory (review)

BATHORY — Bathory album cover Album · 1984 · Black Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
"Bathory" is the eponymously titled debut full-length studio album by Swedish speed/heavy metal act Bathory. The album was released through Tyfon Grammofon in October 1984. Lead vocalist/guitarist Quorthon formed Bathory in 1983. The band´s first recordings where done in January 1984. It was the tracks "Sacrifice" and "The Return of the Darkness and Evil". Both appeared on the "Scandinavian Metal Attack" compilation (a split compilation with other Swedish and Finnish heavy metal artists), which was released in March 1984 through the Tyfon Grammofon label. The label received a lot of positive feedback from fans over the two Bathory tracks, and decided to offer the band to record a full-length studio album. When the offer came up Quorthon had to find a new drummer and a new bassist though because both Freddan (bass) and Jonas Åkerlund (drums) were no longer in the band. Therefore Rickard Bergman (bass) and Stefan Larsson (drums) were added to the lineup instead. The new three-piece lineup had one rehearsal in May 1984 before entering Heavenshore Studio in Stockholm in June 1984 to record their debut album. The album was recorded and mixed in 2 days.

Stylistically the music on the album is a blackened speed/heavy metal style, which sounds like it´s heavily influenced by early Venom. An act like Motörhead also often comes to mind. The sound is a bit darker and the vocals are snarling and pretty extreme for the time too though, and there is a gloomy occult atmosphere to the material. Bathory are often credited as one of the pioneers of black metal, and it´s abundantly clear why that is when listening to this album. It´s arguably an incredibly influential album in the genre, but it´s not what most people think of, when they think of black metal today. So no blast beats or anything else too extreme, other than the vocals. The music is both raw and pretty filthy too though, and the vocals are definitely of the blackened sort.

The tracks are pretty basic vers/chorus structured material featuring energetic and organic playing/singing. It´s not the most tight performance I´ve ever heard, but the guys in the band deliver their music with both passion and conviction, which is always far more important. The sound production is pretty lo-fi and raw, but it suits the music and there´s definitely a primal charm to it, that you won´t find on many more professionally produced releases. This is as "straight from the rehearsal room/live in the studio" as it gets.

The influential nature of the release earns it some points, but it is for the most part also a pretty enjoyable listen, although it is a slightly one-dimensional release. Most tracks are similarly structured and features about the same mid-to fast paced tempo, but there are moments when Bathory play a little slower and add some heaviness. It´s an album which is a bit hard to rate, because it speaks to a pretty specific audience of black/speed/thrash metal fans, who worship it like it´s the unholy grail. My opinion is probably a bit more objective and a bit more biased too, as I find it an interesting and adventurous release (for the time), but it´s also a bit immature and rough around the edges. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
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siLLy puPPy wrote:
11 months ago
Yeah very influential album and a decent listen in its own right but seems half-baked if you come to this after all the later releases. The next album is slightly better but beginning with UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK the shit is masterpiece material for a few albums.
Vim Fuego wrote:
11 months ago
Personally, I love this one. I often list it as my favourite black metal album.
Quorthon was a bit put out by the Venom comparisons. He reckoned GBH was a bigger influence on Bathory than Venom.

11 months ago
I first bought The Return... based solely on the cover. It totally blew me away. I rushed out to get this album and it was more like, “Meh, it’s okay.” I finally bought it a couple of years ago on CD after buying a couple of dozen black metal albums. It was like, “Oh, it all makes sense now. This album really inspired that black metal atmosphere and vocal style.” It lacks the cool riffs and more creative song structure of The Return... but it is still a historically important album. Agreed though, hard to give it a high rating based on what’s in the package alone.


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