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Right, to start off with let me make one thing clear, I am a complete and utter Bathory nut. They are the greatest band ever and Quorthon is a fucking musical genius. Hell, I even have a few Bathory tattoos! So this ranking is NOT for the music. That would get 100%, even though if I was compiling it, I would have picked different tracks, but then again if you asked 1000 Bathory fans to compile their favourite songs, you'd probably get 3000 different compilations! No, this review is for the entire package, and it is a COMPLETE. WASTED. OPPORTUNITY.
Within this package you get 3 cds worth of various Bathory songs from across all albums and also some Quorthon songs, but NOTHING unreleased. The dvd is of the hard to find One Rode to Asa Bay promo, an MTV interview, and home video footage of Quorthon on a promo tour of Europe for the Hammerheart album. This is packaged in a normal jewel case.
Finally, you have a book that's the same size as a cd that looks at the history of Bathory with lyrics, songs, photos, etc.
OK, let us deal with the good points first as I am a positive type of guy. The dvd is obviously the best thing in this package, containing the hard to find One Rode to Asa Bay promo video. Also included is an MTV interview when they call him Quorthorn (how hard is it to get someone's name correct?) and discuss the Hammerheart album. Finally, there are some nice home videos by Boss of Quorthon on a promotional tour for Hammerheart. It's interesting to watch & to also see some of the fashion styles of the fans!
One Rode to Asa Bay doesn't really contain Quorthon & his two hired hands a great deal, but has the story of the song acted out (something that Moonsorrow borrowed for their Jumaltan video). It's a nice video, though nothing amazing.
The 3 cds are good in that they cover, which is all aspects of Bathory's past as well as Quorthon's solo stuff. There are even the covers by Bathory of Ace of Spades & War Pigs and by Quorthon of The Beatles' Sleeping & the Sex Pistols. War Pigs is pretty faithful to the original, but Ace of Spades is slowed down considerably & sounds utterly epic! A great cover that's very different. There's nothing much to say about the Bathory originals, only that you do get a shorter version by a few minutes of Wheel of Sun on here, so I guess that makes it kind of exclusive, though I have no idea why they did this! Finally, you also get the Silverwing track that Quorthon did with his sister Jennie Tebler. It's a cool song, though one that takes a little bit of time to get into. The start is a bit odd, backwards & forwards almost & the sound is quite dry. You also get her version of Song to Hall Up High. It's not too bad, but I prefer the original. The music has not changed, but Quorthon's vocals have been removed & hers added.
The book is also quite cool. It has (the start of) a History of Bathory, some photos, a list of all Bathory songs in alphabetical order (OK, I'm sad, but I like this!) and also all the lyrics to the songs used on here.
So that's the good. Unfortunately, now the bad. And this is much longer! Firstly, the box itself. It is made out of some flimsy cardboard much like a cereal box, although that might be doing cereal boxes an injustice! Why couldn't have it have been a harder cardboard & laminated? Or made from wood (like the box sets Century Media did for Unleashed & others a few years ago), or metal, or leather? Well, let us just say that they could have done a much better job on that.
Secondly, the cds. The song choices are pretty good, though could be better, however for some bizarre reason they have decided to split up Odens Rides Over Nordland & A Fine Day To Die. Now these 2 tracks segue together perfectly. AS THEY WERE MEANT TO! Putting a couple of tracks in between just doesn't make any sense, frankly. Also most importantly, THERE ARE NO UNRELEASED SONGS! That is a massive disappointment. As a tribute to Quorthon over 3 discs, you would have thought 1 disc could be obscure & unreleased songs. I have read that Boss will not release any unreleased Bathory songs until he dies. I wish that he would reconsider that!
The packaging of the cds is also horrible. Not much thought seemed to have been given to the type face colour & the background, ending up in an eye-straining headache-inducing mess. Also, each cd's inlay card is just 1 sheet - front cover up front & track listing on the back. No lyrics or other info. I assume that this is because all of this info is in the booklet that comes with the package, however if you got the cds individually I think that you would feel cheated.
Thirdly, the book. As I said this is quite cool, but the history of Bathory contained therein is what was published on the website, chronologically in sections, and because Quorthon died before it was finished, it is no way near complete. So whilst it's nice to have something, it is rather lopsided and doesn't go into any detail on the later albums.
Finally, though the dvd is good & a welcome 'proper' release of One to Asa Bay video, I can't help feeling that this could have been more too. A history of Bathory would have been good along with interviews with bands that he has influenced. There certainly would be a lot of these! Perhaps even some live covers of Bathory stuff. All this would have been great if they had been included.
So all in all, if you have never heard of Bathory & wanted to hear what they sound like, this certainly would cover every style that they/he played, and so is a good introduction. However, for those of us who have every album by Bathory, the only reason to get this set is the dvd.
Finally, ever noticed the figure on the front cover has 2 right hands....?
Finally, a Bathory collection which doesn't suck? Well, that all really depends on what format you choose to acquire it in, and what exactly it is you're looking for in such a fan package. For example, if I were to break it down into the three independent CDs which one can still seemingly purchase from Black Mark, it doesn't carry a lot of weight. But the full deal, with the poster, booklet, and bonus DVD is quite comprehensive in both CD and LP formats, and thus the preferred option. Surely this is superior to the awful Katalog comp or the individual Jubileum releases, but there are a number of what I'd consider strange omissions and the same miasma of incompleteness that populated the latter.
First off, you're getting a considerable number of remastered tracks, spanning the 1984 self titled debut through the 2003 swan song Nordland II. I've never had significant personal issues with the production of anything Quorthon had released for Bathory, just minor nitpicks, so this is not a major boon in my opinion, yet the fact that they're all given the treatment helps gel them together as a unified collection, despite the studio production variance of their roots. Choices are pretty good, with important cuts like "Blood Fire Death", "A Fine Day to Die", "Enter the Eternal Fire", "Raise the Dead" and such scattered about the three discs, but the selection is far from restricted to the classics, so you've got examples of the mid-90s thrash mediocrity ("War Machine") and a boat load of inclusions from the more recent Nordland sagas.
There are also quite a number of covers here, which were originally recorded throughout the Bathory canon, some appearing on various editions of full-length releases and some I'd never heard before. Some of the choices are very obvious, like "Ace of Spades" or "War Pigs" which are not that impressive other than getting to hear Quorthon's uneven accent. I found the KISS tributes to be much more entertaining and obscure choices, in particular "Black Diamond" which really benefits from the power placed in its translation. Lastly, though, you've got a pair of covers from the Quorthon solo career, namely "God Save the Queen" (Sex Pistols) and "I'm Only Sleeping (Beatles), and I didn't really enjoy them outside of appreciating the guy's obviously eclectic tastes. A few of the originals from the two solo albums are likewise present, like the heavy rock track "I've Had it Coming" or the atmospheric "Boy" with all its samples. Despite my disdain for the albums in general, these are not poor representations, though I would have clipped them in favor of more raw Bathory.
The songs with his sister Jennie Tebler are much less appealing. "Silverwing" is pretty boring crunch rock ala Evanescence with the female vocals flowing over them. Once they enter into a harmony, it's not so bad, but the solo strands of her voice sound like a miserable wannabe of Lacuna Coil or The Gathering. Nor do I much care for her version of "Song to Hall Up High", which closes out the third and last audio disc. It would have been far cooler, and really reflected a sense of completeness if the demo and rare tracks from the Jubileum collections had been gathered here. Still in print, perhaps, but considering the price for this boxed set it would not have set them back so much, and ultimately it might have spared the fans from wasting their money on the older collections if they hadn't already. So, some omissions that would dramatically improved the value of In Memory of Quorthon, but in the end you're still getting about 45 tracks, all remastered, so at least some minimum effort was applied by Black Mark.
Finally, there are the perks and 'omake box' goodies that usually come with these media boxed sets. The poster is absolutely retarded, nothing more than an advertisement for the set that you just purchased with a classic pic of Quorthon. I would have rather it just included the latter. The booklet itself is enormous, a pretty comprehensive biography with lots of photos and notes, but not necessarily anything novel or unexpected if you'd been following his career. The DVD itself is not brimming with content, just the full video for "One Road to Asa Bay" which is little more than a bunch of guys in armor, costume, riding a horse, etc all quite slowly to the roiling pace of the music; an MTV interview clip in which he discusses his transition from the occult lyrical focus of his earlier years to the folksier Norse mythology, and some random promotional footage also from the same 1990 era. Nothing too impressive here, least of all the video, but it's a decent add on for the diehard who might feel the urge to occasionally listen to his/her hero speak.
Needless to say, if you can get your hands on this collection, it stands head and shoulders above its predecessors. I wish it had more to it, and I'm sure everyone does, but as far as a posthumous memorial, it's comprehensive enough not to disappoint. I wouldn't say it was worth purchasing if you already own all the studio albums, but even then, if you want to show more financial support to honor the legend, it's far more reasonable than Jubileum or the needless Katalog. You are getting SOMETHING for your money here, which is more than I can say for a large percentage of shit-eating collections put out for major bands. As of 2011, a nice vinyl box also became available which includes a picture disc of the whole Bathory s/t. Keep that in mind when you're mining eBay, since the format is all the rage and very likely to become a collectible of high value.
Quorthon is gone.
The founder of the band that helped spawn the current age of black metal is gone.
Somehow writing those words just doesn't seem right. It's like losing a family member if you've been into metal as long as I and most of my cohorts have. I was introduced to Bathory in 1984 when the debut cassette popped up in the "import" section of my local record store. I was disappointed at 13 with the garbage can-type production, but being a Venom fan as of a year earlier bad production did little to sway me one way or another. Still, the majesty and depth that was Bathory managed to surprise and delight me like no other band since the aforementioned Newcastle trio.
It was a lifelong following I keep dear to this day
When I learned of Thomas "QUORTHON" Forsberg's passing I was shocked and saddened to the core. I mean, the guys that play music are supposed to be immortal, right? They simply aren't supposed to die! I had my rude awakenings early: December 8, 1980 saw John Lennon murdered in a New York street; January 4, 1986 Phil Lynott of Thin Lizzy passed over after a frantic high-speed car ride to the hospital with his mother vying to keep her son alive after an O.D.; Cliff Burton was crushed by a bus on a dark Stockholm road on September 24, 1986, not to mention Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Brian Wilson, Buddy Holly, Elvis – this list is seemingly endless – we should be used to the very death most of our bands glorify, yes?
Well, I'm not. Not now, not ever I guess.
For years Quorthon was an enigma right out of a Poe novel; he managed to secure a reputation and mystique of almost total anonymity for most of Bathory's career. To see the rare photograph of him back in the day was like a priceless artifact! Not much was known about him, and even more was fabricated. To this day we're not 100% sure of what Quorthon was doing, thinking or living in those formative years. We do know that he was around 15 when he first demoed songs for the now infamous "Scandinavian Metal Attack" LP that showcased local Swedish bands for a one-off offering. From there letters came in from all over requesting more of the guttural-vocals and pained screams of young Quorthon. His destiny was beginning.
1984 saw the debut album, "Bathory" emerge as one of the underground's most important and sought-after releases in the black metal genre since Venom's "Black Metal" just two years earlier. Right up there with Mercyful Fate, Hellhammer, Celtic Frost and the newly-emerging Sodom, Bathory was marking its spot in black metal history. "The Return" followed in 1985, into 1987's "Under the Sign of the Black Mark", which propelled Bathory into the masses even more prominently. While never keeping a lineup for more than two albums, Quorthon was as prolific as he was mysterious. Some of the albums that followed were exceptional (Blood Fire Death, Hammerheart, and Twilight of the Gods) while others simply seemed to lack some of that early magic. Still and all, Quorthon remained active and prominent in both the early scene and the newly-fashioned resurgence that formed out of Scandinavia in the early 90s. While he publicly dismissed the act of the some of the Norwegian bands as childish and "silly" he was proud of the fact that those bands held high the name of Bathory in a short list of influences.
Then he was just gone. There was no huge "going-out-with-a-bang" event, no fanfare, and no full-page obituaries: he was just gone. A heart attack claimed his young life in his Sweden apartment on June 7, 2004. The man was just 38-years old. He was four years older than me.
Now, you may ask if this set is worth your hard-earned $60! After all, this isn't chump change and may very well be one major purchase for a fan for a couple of months. So Chris, is the damn thing worth it?
Damn right it is. Over three-hours of tunes and a DVD, not to mention a 176-page book? It's a no-brainer!
Boss, longtime producer, friend (and rumored father) of Quorthon's has put together a 3-CD box set commemorating the life and recordings of his young friend. It covers a span of 1984 to 2003 and has a little bit of everything, a virtual potpourri of Bathory, if you will. Aside from the very versatile and newly remastered cut choices on this release, which also includes some of Quorthon's solo work away from the Bathory name, is the inclusion of a book and DVD. Let me first address the book. It contains 176 pages of some very rare and cool photos of Bathory in every incarnation as well as writings and musings in the man's own words. Some of it humorous, other parts are (intentionally) dark, showing both sides of Quorthon's wit and wisdom. Lyrics are also included therein. It's a fun and informative read. The set also comes with a full color, double-sided poster.
The DVD is the 12-minute hard-to-find "Road to Asa Bay" video and a 10-minute interview from MTV (no, that's no typo) during the Hammerheart-era. The interview is very nice to see: when one hears Cronos or King Diamond speak in interviews they are always "on"; in other words, they are always in character, always saying something divinely evil or tempestuous to further their mystique, which is fine…it's a persona we all have come to love and enjoy. However, Quorthon presents himself as a quiet, humble, very passive and intelligent individual that doesn't care too much for the hype surrounding himself or his mystique – he simply discusses the album and you get the real feeling that you are hearing and seeing him for the first time.
The real added treat on the DVD is the final 30+ minutes of footage shot by Boss in and around Europe as Quorthon did meet-and-greets, signings, sight-seeing, short stops for radio, dinners with journalists – a lot of very cool and very rare footage. A lot of it is muffled in terms of sound, but the feeling is there and if ever there was a true Bathory treasure it's in this footage alone. A must have for any fan!
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that all of the rumors about Boss and Quorthon being father and son are true. I think it must have been so difficult for Boss to assemble these recordings of his late son and offer them to us. We catch small glimpses and shots of these "famous people" throughout the press and such, but we never really know them. We only know what they present to us and what we take from them. Boss made one hell of a tribute to Quorthon here and it is well worth the price! You know a person has reached legendary status when "fake death" rumors begin swirling about. Already it's whispered that Quorthon has "retired" to Norway and is writing a book that will emerge in the next couple of years. Soon they will see him working at a local Laundromat or being an Amish farmer – whatever the case may be. All I know is he's gone and wherever he may be I hope he realizes what an impact he's had on a music scene so wrought with imitators.
Or…maybe he's reading the daily news in a Norwegian villa sipping coffee and enjoying the quiet life. Whatever and wherever…thank you, Thomas, and rest well!
(Originally presented in Metal Coven webzine - 8/12/06)
With such a great collection of Music, It makes me wonder why this is such a bland box set!? There is no doubting Quorthon's songwriting ability and the music showcases that much, and that is where this box set succeeds. Where it falters is pretty much everywhere else!
I may as well tell you about the good of this box set first: The three main audio discs give a great overview of Quorthon's career with Bathory, which takes up about 90 percent of the space. Also included are cuts from his solo project simply named Quorthon, which takes up most of the remaining space and there are two Jennie Tebler songs, which are at the end of Disc Three. Most of the material is in a general chronological order, with most of the earlier album on Disc One and onto Disc Two and the later era material coming on the latter half of Disc Two and Disc Three. Really, you can't miss with this collection.
Now, to the items that are what make this box set: The booklet, poster and DVD. Each falters in their own special ways. For example the booklet, which while it has some good info in it, there is nothing new to be found. Plus, I noticed some awful spelling in it, mostly stupid mistakes like having 'the' spelled as 'teh'. Just stupid mistakes that a spell checker could have fixed. Also one of the pages is printed out of order.
The DVD is another blemish on this box set. It has a music video for "One Rode to Asa Bay" along with a short interview. The DVD could have had so much more, and it's an opportunity that was completely passed up.
And there is the poster! All I can say is that someone didn't think this through at all. The post is of the box set you just bought.... Yes, you read correctly, the poster is nothing more than an advertisement for an item you already bought!
All in all, I have to recommend "In Memory of Quorthon" despite its short comings. The music is a fine collection spanning the entire career of Quorthon and makes for a great introduction into the greatness that was Quorthon and Bathory.
This review is difficult to write, since I am a huge Bathory fan and would easily give this box a 100 based on my view of the music. However, I will not go in-depth on the actual music contained in this box set, because if you’re not familiar with the music of Bathory, this is not the place to start; instead go pick up the Jubileum series. If you are familiar, then nothing that I say will change your opinion, since there is really nothing new here, except for a cover of the Sex Pistol’s “God Save The Queen,” Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs,” which is musically faithful to the original, but Quorthon’s vocals here do not measure up to Ozzy, a very interesting cover of Motorhead’s “Ace Of Spades” that is so different from the original that it is reminiscent of the way Type O Negative’s cover of Black Sabbath’s “Black Sabbath” sounds like a completely different song, and The Beetles' "I'm Only Sleeping," which I cannot really compare to the original since I'm not too familiar with it.
The real review here is the merit of this box set in tribute to Quorthon (R.I.P.). As mentioned earlier, the 3 CD’s here actually offer less rare and unreleased material that was present on the Jubileum series, so they offer little to add value to this package.
However, the jewel of this box is the DVD. The DVD contains a quality copy of the epic “One Rode To Asa Bay” video, officially released for the first time, instead of the low quality bootleg versions that are floating around the web (You Tube, etc.) or the horrible copy that is on the “The True Black Essence” bootleg CD. Now you can watch the video in an acceptable video quality on your TV with really good sound.
Also on the DVD is a small interview that Quorthon did with MTV about the progression of Bathory from Black Metal to Viking Metal that was cool to see. Finally, the DVD wraps up with about 20 minutes of camcorder footage that Boss taped during a European tour Quorthon made to promote “Hammerheart.” Most of the footage is of Quorthon doing meet and greet stops at record stores where he autographed tons of Bathory memorabilia while chatting with “The Horde.” It was great to see this footage and it made me long for the return of those days, where the kids were all wearing Bathory, Kreator, Sodom, Exumer, Celtic Frost, etc. shirts, instead of today’s youth wearing Godsmack and Limp Bizkit shirts.
Another point of interest was the 174 page booklet that comes with this box set. It is the same dimensions as a jewel case printed on glossy paper stock. Although it is nice to have the band discography, history, etc. all nicely edited into a tidy little book, there really is not much new here. Almost everything was culled from the Bathory.se website. The only thing that was bit cool and exclusive was letter from Order From Chaos’ Chuck Keller talking about his friendship with “Q” and that he misses him.
The box also comes with a poster that measures approximately 19” x 22” and is quite a disappointment, to put in mildly. I cannot fathom how a tribute to a deceased “legend” of Metal could have been dishonored like this! The poster is a hybrid of two separate designs printed on one side! How could Black Mark cheap out like this and not print this as a two sided poster is unfathomable. On the left side is the famous 1987 photo of Quorthon’s fire breathing in London and right next to it is a design for the contents of this very box set! If you have the box set, what purpose does a poster serve telling you what you already know? Obviously, this poster serves as a promotional tool to sell the box set, so why not spend the extra dollars to print this two sided, so that those with the box set see the Quorthon picture in all it’s glory and the other side could be used at record stores for promoting the box set?
The entire box set itself has the 3 CD’s and the DVD packaged in jewel cases with the poster folded up to about the size of a slim-line jewel case, which the aforementioned 174 page booklet also being the exact size of a jewel case, so that the entire contents slides into a cardboard sleeve style casing. This is really kind of a let down. I would have expected something more inline with some of the beautiful limited edition packages that Nuclear Blast has made (Crematory’s “Remind” in a flight case, Nightwish’s “Once” box with ornamental globe, etc.) or even the packaging of the “Lord Of The Ring” movies in the collector’s box editions that contain small sculptures and beautiful artwork. Instead, you are presented with jewel case CD’s and DVD that all have the exact same lame booklet that describes the contents of the box set. Why couldn’t each CD and the DVD come with different booklets that describe why certain tracks were Quorthon’s favorites or Boss’s favorites; what made the songs chosen special? These are the kind of things that needed to be answered and they were not.
I gave this box an 85, even though the legacy of the music deserves a 100, because of the weakness of the packaging of this “In Memory of Quorthon” box left me with, I dare say it, the feeling that this box was more of a way to cash in a final time on the great works of Quorthon, rather than pay him the proper tribute that he deserved. Kings are supposed to be laid to rest in monuments of stone; this King, perhaps the “King of Kings,” was buried in a pine box.