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2.98 | 34 ratings | 7 reviews
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Album · 1984

Filed under Black Metal


1. Storm of Damnation (intro) (3:07)
2. Hades (2:45)
3. Reaper (2:44)
4. Necromansy (3:40)
5. Sacrifice (3:16)
6. In Conspiracy With Satan (2:29)
7. Armageddon (2:32)
8. Raise the Dead (3:41)
9. War (2:15)
10. [untitled] (0:23)

Total Time: 26:55


- Quorthon / vocals, guitar
- Rickard Bergman / bass
- Stefan Larsson / drums

About this release

Label: Under One Flag / Black Mark
Release date: October 2nd, 1984

Recorded in June, 1984, at Heavenshore Studio, Stockholm, Sweden.
Produced by Boss and Quorthon.
Album cover design by Quorthon.

Thanks to Vehemency, Unitron for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

siLLy puPPy
Named after the famous Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory who is the most famous female serial killer and torturer of young girls in history, this Swedish group may well be the first black metal band. Not only did they take their band name from the track “Countess Bathory” from Venom's “Black Metal” album, but they also took the inspiration provided by the imagery and improved the music to move beyond the proto-thrash sounds of that album but kept the lo-fi production to evolve the sub-genre another notch.

Main man and founder Quorthon in effect saw the next step in what Venom started and ran away with it ushering in the reign of Scandinavian extreme metal. The history of black metal is as murky as its kvilt lo-fi tendencies but is really a step-by-step amalgamation of ideas that built upon what came before but on the eponymous debut album by BATHORY we get a lot of the attributes of the second-wave of black metal already presented in its infancy in 1984.

This is an interesting album that provides on this slightly less than 30 minute musical journey a snapshot of the evolution of black metal within its short duration. For such a short album the first 3 minutes are dedicated to an ambient mood setting bleakness before kicking into the initial track “Hades.” The first few tracks sound musically more like NWOBHM tracks with Judas Priest coming to mind however the lyrics, delivery and attitude are Satanic and evil. By the end of the album there is clearly less NWOBHM influence and sounds closer to the second wavers of the 90s. A must for black metalheads looking for its roots.
Looking back on Bathory's debut from today's perspective, it's almost difficult to believe that such an album was released in 1984. With just under 27 minutes of lo-fi, fast-paced metal riffage, Quorthon and company truly paved the way for the upcoming second wave of black metal with this groundbreaking debut. Everything from the vehemently anti-Christian lyrics to the intentionally terrible sound of the production would later become a staple in black metal's future, and I'd even venture to call Bathory the first full-blown black metal album. Although it contains a strong influence from thrash and speed metal, there are enough defining black metal characteristics to make it worthy of that title. Bathory is a very flawed album in my eyes, and I do think Quorthon would make better music later on, but this is still a landmark of extreme metal and an essential purchase for those interested in black metal.

Since I wasn't even born yet when this was released, the only way I can listen to the album is in retrospect. Having already been familiar with many second-wave black metal bands when I first listened to Bathory, I already had the advantage of understanding the impact this release would have on future black metal releases. The lo-fi production, raspy vocals, buzzing guitar tones, fast riffs, and sinister lyrics are all here, and this can probably be considered one of the most influential albums in extreme metal. It's clear right from the beginning that this is a highly ambitious, but (at least in my opinion) imperfect, observation - while the buzzing guitar riffs and savage production are an interesting gimmick, there aren't a whole lot of particularly captivating musical ideas throughout the album's short duration. There are some memorable riffs scattered throughout the 27 minute duration, but that still isn't quite enough to grab my attention. Compositionally, this strikes me as a rather shallow release, and while I won't be one to deny Bathory's historical impact, it is a rather flawed effort in my eyes.

Even though you'll have a tough time finding too many black metal albums more important than this one, it's never been one of my favorites. Quorthon would improve as a songwriter over the next few years, and I think those curious about Bathory can definitely find better than this. A confident, original, and groundbreaking debut without doubt, but not the most satisfying as far as I'm concerned. The songwriting is a bit underdeveloped and the production lacks any sort of definition, though the unique ambition still shines through on this effort. 2.5 - 3 stars are deserved for this original, albeit severely flawed, debut.
Most of the groups cited as being part of the "first wave" of black metal - Celtic Frost/Hellhammer, Venom, Mercyful Fate and the rest - really were performing a sort of proto-thrash metal that happened to have rather Satanic lyrics. It is Bathory who have the best claim to be the progenitors of the black metal subgenre with releases such as this debut album, on which almost all the conventions of the second wave of black metal are in place. A remarkably original and confident debut, featuring buzzing guitar, machine gun-like drums and Quorthon's inspirational rasp, this is essential listening for anyone interested in the origins of black metal.
1984 saw the beginning of many genres and here is the continuing story of the rise of black metal began by Venom. I listened to this album a grand total of one time. It was a gruelling experience to get through. Not that I hate black metal, I just like a bit of production and some brutal metal riffs occasionally. None will be found here.

There are just a bunch of passionless screechy vocals accompanying droning distortion. The sonic noise and screeching vocals are unnerving at first and then it becomes a nuisance. Some of this stuff is unintentionally funny, a mockery these days such as In Conspiracy With Satan or Armageddon. I kind of liked the crawl metal of Raise the Dead and it's growling pleading lyrics - 'I'm so tired, grant me the eternal sleep'. It all seems a bit contrived now but at the time this was as dark as it got. I would never return to this darkness. I can manage a star for sheer balls that Bathory would create this dark music with sincere conviction.
Well, I am not a huge fan of Black Metal, but hey, as I always say, every genre or band should have his chance, and I always try to listen to new stuff or things I don't know yet.

This time was Bathory and I can't say much here, repetitive, weak, bad recording (hey, any genre should take care of it, don't matter what). Fans of the genre will disagree completely, but in the end I just came in through the whole album cause I don't like listen only to half of records, like I said before, give it a try.

But in this case just one thing stands in the end: So damnn boring!!!!

Members reviews

1967/ 1976
Only 27 minutes to one of the most important debuts in the history of Heavy Metal. A truly seminal album. Frankly, however, a far cry from the modern Black Metal. Not for the lyrics but for the style, Venom clone. Moreover, the production is very minimal, with also wrong mixes. Even in this last case, very seminal album!

In short, "Bathory" is an album became more special when others musicians have decided to copy icongraphy and lyrics, rather than the music it contains, however, of great value. A closer look, then, a simple idea but that it has very fruity.

Haters gonna hate. Well, personally, if this is the worst of black metal, then I say hail black metal. Brutal riffs, nasty production reminding me of obscure hardcore punk records, and beautiful vocals that sound like the creature depicted on the album cover is doing the singing.

So I love it. But whether or not you love it is the question. I'd recommend listening to the opening track, and if you don't like it, immediately stop there because it's not going to change or start dishing out acoustic interludes. This is nothing more than the foundation of black metal, love it or hate it.

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