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A lot of people tend to cite Venom as the first black metal band, but the fact is they only coined the term. Music-wise they were pretty much just early thrash metal. Bathory were the first band to truly play the black metal sound.
This album is packed with heavy riffs, skillful solos, blazing drumwork and tortured raspy shrieks. The distorted speed metal riffs have Motörhead-esque tinge to them. They're reasonably fast and heavy, while going into a slower pace at parts, such as in Necromansy. The solos are played in quite a similar way to "Fast" Eddie Clarke (of Motörhead fame if you live under a rock and don't know who Eddie Clarke is). While there's a fair bit of shred going on, it doesn't get to the point where Quorthon was relying on his solos being stupidly fast rather than actually well played. The bass provides a backing rumble, but beyond that it does very little. The drums are well played to suit various parts of the music, unlike later black metal works that would just be non-stop blast beats.
Quorthon was possibly the first vocalist to employ that raspy black metal style. He sounds genuinely tortured and in pain, like all through recording his entire body was in agony. Obviously at the time a vocalist of this sort would be quite frightening. I can't imagine how many people were scared shitless when they read the lyrics and heard the vocals. Speaking of the lyrics, they're incredibly haunting and often set a picture. Two good examples are War and Raise The Dead.
The production is quite raw, but not the point where everything blurs together into an unlistenable wall of noise. Every instrument can be heard and heard clearly, minus the bass which could've been a bit louder. Other than that, an absolutely flawless album and the very first true black metal release. Get this album now!