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The essence of all that is evil - 92%

Felix 1666, July 12th, 2015
Written based on this version: 1984, 12" vinyl, Black Mark Production (Repress)

Bathory´s debut had a ridiculous playtime. Its design was almost painfully reduced to the essentials. Additionally, Quorthon (R.I.P.) made no secret of the fact that he was heavily inspired by Venom. His song formula was very simple and the album got the award for the most primitive drumming of all times. Furthermore, the lyrics glorified violence and sucked completely. Please do not expect me to go into details. Yet it is a fact that this album influenced legions of metal musicians and that alone is an excellent thing. But it gets even better, because all these aforementioned shortcomings paled beside the aura of the album. Its uncompromising approach, its stubborn bigotry and its youthful excessiveness merged with each other and a beast emerged from the primordial soup of black metal. "Bathory" must be seen less as a debut but rather as a statement. This groundbreaking album is the manifesto of evil.

You must be able to afford to be primitive at times. Quorthon´s musical (and lyrical) primitiveness knew no boundaries. But nobody took care of this situation, because his riffs and his malignance were capable to challenge Venom and Slayer at the same time. Of course, Quorthon did not need more than one riff per song. Everything else would have been a waste of resources. But each and every of the eight riffs was provocative, lethal and brilliant. With an outrageous explosiveness, the guitar salvos angrily burst out of the speakers. Filled with hatred and even more hatred, the unholy vocals heralded nothing less than the end of the world. In this lyrical context, "Armageddon" or "War" chose a global approach, while "Reaper" set the focus on individual destruction. To be honest, the lyrics of the later made me feel slightly desperate in view of its extremely moronic lines like "Every virgin needs a rape".

Lyrical content aside, the average speed was remarkable. Six songs were mercilessly rushing forward, only "Necromansy" and "Raise the Dead" followed a less furious approach. Especially the latter one added a certain amount of atmosphere. The funeral bells at the beginning transferred the listener on an autumnal cemetery and the subsequent riff was fairly melodic and ironclad at the same time. To put it very politely, the lyrics were slightly influenced by Venom´s "Buried Alive". Please compare Bathory´s "I gasp for air / I scream for sight" with Venom´s "My lungs gasp for air / My eyes scream for sight" and form your own opinion. I see a minimal similarity, but maybe I am just a pedantic bureaucrat? The line "I tear at the lid" was also cribbed by Cronos. But everything is allowed as long as the result is right. And "Raise the Dead", there is no doubt about it, belonged to the best tracks of one of the best albums in terms of black metal.

The B side was slightly stronger than the first half. The extremely energizing riff of "Armageddon" and its minimalist yet absolutely effective bridge attacked the neck musculature of every headbanger and "In Conspiracy with Satan" appeared as a sonic hellfire. Not to mention the elemental sounds of Quorthon during the one-word-chorus of "War". But under the bottom line, I also appreciate the songs of the A side very much.

When subtracting the overlong wind intro of the relentless opener "Hades", the album surprised with a playtime of less than 24 minutes. A long time after its release, I read in an interview with Quorthon that he had been quite unsure whether it was a good idea to put such a short "full-length" on the market. But it has been shown that most metalheads are intelligent people (I am the exception to the rule). They were therefore focused on quality and not on quantity. Well, we can discuss whether the production shines with high quality. It was reduced to the necessary minimum, but - unlike the songs - it offered a very individual sound. I guess that attributes like raw, perfidious and infringing describe the production in a suitable way. However, the mix formed an indissoluble unit with the songs. Long story short, "Bathory" still marks a unique masterpiece of a lone wolf that acted both instinctively and successful. Its place in history is guaranteed.