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Few albums, if any, had quite a weird and long story such as Bathory's "Blood On Ice". Many a metal fan has over the years stated his/her love and admiration for the band's second triple set of albums, the "Viking albums" which marked Bathory's activiy during the second half of the 80's and the beginning of the 90's. However, there still was a missing chapter to be written for the Viking epic to be complete, and ironically enough, the one which started it all. What now is available as "Blood On Ice" is actually the seed of Bathory's Viking period.
As you can read from Quorthon's extensive liner notes in the booklet, "Blood On Ice" originally took form as a pastime for the band leader between a Satanic metal slaughter and another in the form of a self written heroic saga which borrowed heavily from Northern mythology and Wagner's works, which Quorthon has always admired. After the recording of "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark", however, Quorthon's interests towards flat-out aggression and grim topics began to wane, and this is how "Blood Fire Death", the link between the first and the second era of Bathory's production, was born. Quorthon's inspiration naturally leaned towards this new Viking styled concept, and so his saga was cut down into what would become the lyrics of the songs and "Blood On Ice" was recorded in demo form between the sessions of "Blood Fire Death" and "Hammerheart", with parts of it being processed at the same timeas the latter was recorded. It was then abandoned, as Quorthon feared that the change of direction would be too abrupt for fans to take, and so "Hammerheart" was issued instead. Years later, Quorthon would reveal of the existence of this unreleased album and the fan mail assault began...
...and so here we are in 1995, with Quorthon doing a massive job transferring the original and unfinished material on a modern master, straightening the rough sound and adding the (numerous) missing ingredients before finally offering this missing chapter to his avid fan base. A great and worthwile display of admiration and respect from both sides, I'd like to state. The work must have been hard and the results are amazingly good, judging from the very limited resources Quorthon had to start with.
"Blood On Ice" rightfully fits among Bathory's other three Viking platters, and due to its unique nature works well both as an introduction and a further addition, thus appealing to old and new fans equally. Musically, the compositions range between plodding marches a la "A Fine Day To Die" such as the title track, "The Sword" and "The Stallion" to faster assaults like "One Eyed Old Man" and the powerful "Gods of Thunder, of Wind and of Rain" (which in time has become a fan favourite), and includes the mandatory acoustic moments ("The Ravens" and the excellent "Man of Iron") along with "Twilight Of The Gods" styled slow, atmospheric epics, namely the very good "The Woodwoman" and the fantastic "The Lake"... everything spiced with choirs, acoustics, sound effects and other traditional Bathory gimmicks.
All in all "Blood On Ice" is a very solid and enjoyable work, mandatory for anyone who enjoyed Bathory's second season but a recommended listen to any other metal fan too. A long wait, but well worth it. Thank you, Quorthon.