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This album is downright essential for all black metal fans, and highly recommended for the rest of metal kind. Sure, I can talk about the historical importance of this album and how it helped shape the extreme metal scenes rising at the time. I can mention how nearly every person credited with forming the genre of black metal can be seen in one picture or another with this album cover on their t-shirt. But does that matter as much as the fact that this album fucking kills? No. Rocking riffs is all this album is and the strained neck will be your badge for surviving its wrath.
The thing with this album, that makes it so perplexing is how simple it is. Every song only has like one riff, with like one lead break of squealing rapid notes with muffled drums and bass and angry rough screech over top of it. Every song follows basically this same formula. But each song is memorable, and every song gets stuck in your head, and every song makes you thrash. And that is the magic of this album. It's simplicity is what makes it so effective. If I ever want a quick metal shit fit on a walk or whatever, this album offers me 8 tracks they'll do just that. It's quick, to the point, and awesome.
The only real flaw with this album, and I'm not the first to realize it, is the intro track, Storm of Damnation, goes on for too long. Admittedly, the first listen I listened to the whole thing in eager anticipation for the metal blitzing to follow, but the effectiveness of the intro wears off RAPIDLY. Really, the track should've been shortened to like 30 to 60 seconds, and the album should've been an e.p. In a perfect world we would've got the awesome tracks left off the album for one reason or another like Witchcraft or Satan my Master. But what can we do?
But after the intro, it's 23 minutes of metal bliss. No weak tracks. No weak riffs. Just turn up your speakers and have fun. Hades is probably my favourite, as the main riff skitters through my ears forcing my arm to raise and do the sign of the horns, and my head to bang. Reaper picks things up with a classic speed metal riff that would make Venom feel like chumps. Necromansy is one of the real highlights of this album, with the riff that would be tweaked into the one on Burzum's War, and lyrics about as evil as you can get for that time or any. Heil satanic majesty! The groove and speed of this song makes it one of the most infectious, get stuck in your head kind of songs in all of Bathory's distinguished repertoire. No wonder Varg Vikernes took it for his own.
Sacrifice has some real groove to it and keeps the speed assault going. MOTHER OF CHRIIIIISSSST! In Conspiracy With Satan is probably the weakest song on here, and that's saying something, because it is still an awesome track. It has some sweet lead breaks, but the main riff is probably the least memorable on here. But the title was always funny to me. I'm in cahoots with SATAN! Armageddon has some dark lyrics to match its ferocity. It truly is the sound of 'gashing the virgins flesh'. Raise the Dead is the slower track of the album, and it stands as one of the high points of the album. The underlying bass groove is downright infectious. Ending with a sudden gong smash, fading right into the ending song, War.
War is just what you want in an ending song. Really fast, singing about lightning and earthquakes amidst a grand battlefield, and an easy to scream along with chorus. The outro is naught nut a few seconds of wind and a thud thud of the drums, telling you that you have survived. This album is one I will never tire of, and one that really should be in your collection. If it was more complete, and with a shorter intro, I'd easily give it the coveted three digits. But It's quick passing, even with a three minute track of whistling reverb with some bell chimes, leaves me wanting a little more. But still essential.
For taking some of that old school speed metal and making that much rawer and violent, Bathory's historical debut gets a 93 out of 100, or a five out of five.
Raise the Dead