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Okay, where do I even begin with this? This is the album that has founded the black metal scene. By far, it is also one of the most important albums to have in any heavy metal collection known to mankind. This was the first full length album release by Bathory and by far possibly the greatest in my opinion. It may sound weird that I think that this was the band's best work for that this was just a cheap, low budget, garage style production project, but truly it set the definite meaning to the sound of black metal. Many often site Venom's album Black Metal as the foundation of the genre but really this set it right in musical terminology. In this Album you got everything that any black metal band would do in their career. Fast paced music followed by shrieking guitars that sound like static, muffled blast beat drumming (which in my opinion sounds like a guy getting punched in the face repetitively but deepened to the fullest), deeply distorted bass that is almost unheard of, and most importantly, the revolutionary inhuman death shriek vocals performed by Quorthon, the true father of black metal and viking metal. But by far this is one of my favorite albums that I ever listened to and goes as one of my favorite works of black metal ever to be released.
Now, this album is truly revolutionary for its time since no music like this was produced like this for a year as early as 1984. At the time, Quorthon, the lead front man and multi instrumentalist for the band, was 17 years old when he made this album. Despite the fact the reason for its production was primarily flawed through the lack of budget, yet he could perfectly pull off the sound if it too still sound raw, awesome, and brutal beyond belief. This album went down in history as an icon for extreme metal back in the 80s and so much more of a reputation it deserves. but the things I personally love about this album is not only the music, but the effort and inspiration it was for me to become a solo musician myself (work in progress). For a bunch of crazy ass Swedish kids to make an album so amazing placed me in the field myself as for the fact that they could pull it off and soon evolve to be even greater as the years would go by.
The music is beyond amazing. You start off with an eerie intro (a running gag for the band) in which entitled as "Storm of Damnation" is a dark atmospheric piece were ambient noise is combined with the sound effects of a harsh whirling storm of death. Also, every so often a bell chime goes off (which is actually the sound of the London clock tower) comes in and makes the scene only more haunting. It runs on for some three or so minutes being the third longest track on the album but truly sets the mood of it and of what is expected of the album. That in which is the quintessence of darkness and evil. Then it forms to the song "Hades" afterwards which is by far my favorite song on the track and perhaps maybe even my favorite Bathory song. The extreme lead guitar riff is phenomenally brutal, catchy, and faster than anything I heard for music released back then. The drums come in blast beating ferociously and once Quorthon's voice sounds the stage, shivers and fears are sent to the listener who dared to pick up the album. If you are like me, you will find yourself playing this song again and again like I did so many times in the past. Then there is the song "Reaper" which is a very Venom-orientated like song yet still pulls off better effect for black metal then they did. It's catchy, brutal, and all death-like. Really, if you are into necrophilia, you'll love this song as the song even interprets the Reaper's fetishes for dead women's flesh. Then there is the song "Necromansy" (yes it was spelled wrong on a misprint for a reason look it up) which is slower than the other songs for that the drums are calmer but the guitar and bass still sticks true to being awesome. It's the longest song out of these two to three and three quarters length songs but you will regret nothing once you here the amazing guitar solo at the end which runs nearly for a minute length or so. The there is the song "Sacrifice" a re-recorded edit track that originally came from the Scandinavian Metal Attack split as a more thrash/ speed metal orientated song. Still none of the less one of the best songs on the album. The drums return the repetitive crazy thrash beat as the guitars pull off amazing riffs that one can easily identify, rather than some black metal bands that tend to have the issue of using monotonous rhythms and riffs to the point where every song sounds the same, well in this case Bathory is the total opposite of that.
The second half of the album starts with the song "In a Conspiracy with Satan" which is a short song but terrifyingly brutal like the others. The song is all about going to hell and witnessing its wrath inflicted from the devil. Rather explicit, yet goes as one of the fastest songs in the album. The there is "Armageddon" a self explanatory song that every heavy metal band writes a song based on doomsday and the apocalypse. But the shrieking guitar distortion is really high on this song for that the riff spams again and again until it gets to the middle where it has a death/ doom metal based approach. The drums as thrashing violent like ever before the bass so deep and eerie as so the terrifying vocals makes this song very intriguing, yet not the dominate piece to this album, it's more like last minute filler but still sounds great. Then there is the song "Raise the Dead" which was not meant to be a Venom cover but its own song itself. This song starts off differently and has a more technically ambient approach to it like the intro. It starts off as an echoing gong going off and as it fades away one can hear a heart beat go on and off. Until then, the guitars come in and begin the song. A more rock based drum beat is incorporated and is slow like the 4th track but still pulls off great music and composition. The vocals are more snarly than the usual daemonic death shrieks, but none of the less it makes Quorthon sound like a zombie coming out from the grave commanding other zombies to arise with him in grand power. This song also runs nearly four minutes yet not enough to exceed but still goes as one of the longest tracks. The there is the song "War" which Varg Vikernes of Burzum clearly stole the chorus from for his song by the same title, but that's a different story. This is probably the shortest song yet the one of the fastest of the others and basically finishes before you know it. The guitar solo is epically amazing and intense like every other guitar solo on the album which nearly every song incorporates, and the funny part is many black metal bands that came after Bathory hardly used them at all. But still an awesome song it is and goes as another favorite. Then there is an outro called "The Winds of Mayhem" which only runs twenty six seconds and it somehow appears on like every single Bathory album released for no really good reason (another running gag I guess). It's basically a dark ambient keyboard solo of this eerie ghost like choir/ wind noise while a bass drum monotonously and slowly beats every few seconds later. It fades away gradually and so the album ends, unless you decide to play it again and soon play the shit out of it like I did and continue to do on my iPod.
To sum up, this album rocks. It is pure fucking black metal at its best and for the first black metal based release it deserves much praise. Yes the band got better musically over time especially when they moved to viking metal like in "Blood, Fire, Death" "Hammerheart" and "Twilight of the Gods" but still this goes in for his black metal trilogy. Note: Look up "The Return...." and "Under the Sign of the Black Mark." These albums keep true to the black metal sound of things and are too amazing and beyond extreme. Overall, I dedicate this review to all listeners and especially to Quorthon who passed away 2004. R.I.P. See you in Valhalla. P.S. isn't that goat on the front cover just absolutely cute or what? But yeah I demand you all to buy this album or download it somewhere and listen to it. One cannot be a Bathory fan, collector, or even a true black metal fan without listening to and or having possession of this record. Overall, this is one of the best things I have ever listened to in my entire life. Rock out and hail to true black metal my friends. And get this record now.