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We go back to the year 1981. Venom welcomes us to hell with their debut album. Since that album the extreme metal scene and lifestyle have never been the same. Of course this would lead, later on in the early 90s, to the radicalization of this new philosophy with the glorification of the individual in heroic scenarios filled with anti-social themes. 1982 an appropriate name for this kind of music was found; "Black Metal", as the titles of Venom's 82' release suggests. The name also fits the music very well, it's Slayer infused into fast and dirty rock'n'roll with harsh vocals and blasphemous lyrics. One formula that has prevailed so many times, but ceased to in the mid 90s. For some reason the individualistic energy that appeared soon put itself out and suffocated into a docile state, later degenerating into order instead of chaos and depression instead of strength.
So much for the small history lesson. Tomas Forsberg, better known under his scenic name of "Quorthon", was merely 18 years old at the time the first "Bathory" album was released. But do not get fooled by the age of the band members, for listening to this release, one can really imagine the raw energy that was running through their veins at that time. Energy that this new generation of extreme music is somehow lacking. On this release we have pure chaos that pushes you forward into a juvenile world of mysticism and provocative satanic imagery. The same problems the youth had back then, we have today; the question to wether one is an important part of this world or not and if society really is what it pretends to be. The nihilistic attitude on this album is not only an imagery to promote the band, but also an important part of the music. Every aspect of this album is a reflection of the band members' thoughts and minds. One must not be a psychologist to realize the fact that this album simply put, has more balls than say 95% of what is being produced in the music industry today. With only a set of crude guitars and some amps, a decent drum kit these younglings have managed to overwhelm the animalistic instincts that mankind possesses. The guitar work here is much in vein of old-Venom material, but with a more obscure tone to it. Slightly monotonous guitar riffing accompanied by compatible homogeneous bass lines and rather catchy melodies are repeated in every song, which create a straightforward but also very effective sound pattern. Most songs on this release have short chaotic soli that resemble Slayer on occasions. The tempo on each song is an average 200 bpm or so, so it's pretty mid tempo. Quorthon's vocal duties on this are truly great. They may not be the typical guttural screaming black metal offers some 10 years later, but it's still a damn good rasp coming out of this guy's throat.
The opener "Storm of Damnation", an intro, embraces the album together with its counterpart "Outro". Directly after the intro, a set of fast paced drums and sagging guitar riffs capture the listener's attention, carrying him forth into a twisted world of determined eagerness and negative emotions. Grasping one by the leg, this album shows you, instead of telling you. It speaks to its listener, encouraging him to feel the most empathy possible with the music. Technically, this album may not appear outstanding, but it remains impressive. Being only less than half an hour in its length, this album really makes up for its intensity. You will be amazed as this album never gets boring and will stay in your cd player or playlist for a long time spinning again and again on almost endless repeat. Every track on this album has its own character and pulls you down its own dark path, each with its own personal set of blasphemy, such as death, satanic rituals and the apocalypse.
"I swear the oath of blood
and tear the virgin's flesh
I gash the wounds of heaven
and ride the wings of death"
This lyrical extraction of "Armageddon" pretty much sums up the feeling on this album and gives a decent impression of what awaits you if you have not already heard this masterpiece. Shut the door and turn up the volume, for this is what our hell sounds like. For fans of Venom, Slayer and Hellhammer, this is a must.