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It took me a while to decide if I would start reviewing Bathory albums as well. I’m not a black metal boy. I’m an old school thrasher who also loves Bathory. And since the majority of Bathory reviews here are written by black metal fans I restrained myself at first. But who cares. I’ll do it anyway. from my perspective obviously.
I have to get something out of my system though. This debut has become a classic mostly out of sheer coincidence and shortcomings than a very ‘intelligent’ approach. What do I mean by that? Simply said, in essence this album does nothing more than worship Venom, Black Sabbath and of course Motorhead. The vocals are different because Quorthon simply couldn’t do any better. It could have been a bad album because of this. A forgotten piece of music. However, this did not happen!
Point is, firstly, that a few years later the huge influence of this Bathory album (and the next 4) on both the black and viking metal scenes became undisputed and more than obvious. And secondly, the songs on this album are simply very good and because of the characteristic vocals, lyrics and atmosphere the result turned out very different from contemporary artists.
As said the main musical influences here are Motorhead and Venom in terms of aggression, speed and some rock ‘n roll based fast metal riffs. Bathory took the image of Venom but made it slightly darker in a Black Sabbeth kind of way and furthermore, more obscure and ‘underground’. The band didn’t play live, not many band pictures were around. So the band remained a mystical ‘obscurity’. Something which suited their music very well.
The album was punkier than Motorhead yet less sloppy than Venom. It had more darkness from Black Sabbath and was far less theatrical than Venom. The album is simple, straight forward and short. The message is clear and therefor more convincing. Most of the songs are fast and furious. The best ones being the catchier ones. But come to think of it, they’re all very catchy, riffwise and choruswise.
Of the slower tracks “Raise the Dead” is the better one. It uses a dark form of old school heavy metal riffing and the catchy vocal lines and pounding simple drums are a perfect finishing touch.
Well, when I first heard this album, the term ‘black’ meant nothing to me. Black was a colour of certain band members in Gothic Slam and Hirax, nothing more, nothing less. This music was dark! The darkest rock and roll ever made. I still refuse to use the term black metal for this album. Screeching vocals and lyrics about Satan don’t make an album black metal.
The album cover. Another highlight really. And once again born out of short comings. Photocopies and handmade cut out stuff formed the goat which to this day is the ultimate and enduring Bathory image!
Quite an album. A classic even