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The greatest black metal album of all time - 98%

TrooperEd, January 30th, 2012

I usually detest the concept of putting the first athlete/band/album of it’s kind as the best of it's kind. Just because you’re the first doesn’t mean you’re the best. But in the case of Bathory, I have to make an exception. It is still the greatest Black Metal album of all time. Yes of course there has been brilliant work in the field done since then, Storm of The Light’s Bane, Sons of Northern Darkness, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, In The Nightside Eclipse and Under A Funeral Moon are all very worthy of the title of classic black metal. Yet none of those albums do what this one does for me. This album was to black metal what Run DMC’s Raising Hell was to hip hop. It wasn’t necessarily the first of it’s kind, as plenty of artists before were laying down the ground work (Venom, Mercyful Fate and Celtic Frost w/black metal, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, The Treacherous Three and Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick for hip hop), but it was the first objectively and unequivocally great black metal album, giving it an identity, a voice, an a guitar tone uglier than a naked, feces covered Rosie O Donnell. But the most innovative feature UTSOTBM gave to black metal is its variety. Despite the change in sound on this Blood Fire Death, there are more separate song ideas here than there were there.

After an absolutely bleak and terrifying intro that drops you into a black canyon you sense a dark unseen force circling you waiting for the right moment to strike, a brief moment of silence to lure you into a false sense of security and then...

MAAAAASSSSACRRRRRRREEEE! An absolutely vicious, blackened speed metal song that bowls you over that’s already faster than anything on Reign In Blood. Woman of Dark Desires again follows the Dark Angel ideology of “don’t slow it down, just switch it up.” It’s still fast, but it’s still super heavy. It’s something of an anthem for black metal fans both figuratively and literally as it features an excellent call to arms chorus. Then comes the solo, which is violent melodic bliss. This was the first Bathory album I’d ever heard, and while I had some reservations about the sound, one of the things that immediately disarmed me was the lead guitar work. As bizarre as this may sound, Quorthon was the Eric Clapton of extreme metal. His solos weren’t that shreddy, but the feel was off the charts.

Call From The Grave slows things down to an arena rock groove, all it needs is a Z-grade music video of Bathory playing in Louisiana Superdome playing to 70,000 demons from the first five layers from hell. After that, Equimanthorn has an intro resembling Jaws before bringing proceedings back to full speed before switching to one of the grooviest metal breakdowns ever (groove with class, mind you). The screaming of the songs title near the end puts the big red cherry on top, and that leads us into the album’s finest moment, Enter The Eternal Fire. This is the sound of the earth opening up and hell breaking loose to a marching rhythm. The backbone of the song is a simple riff that is just good enough to repeat over and over again, while still keeping the listener at full attention. That is no small feat. Even Sabbath would be criticized for letting a riff ride for too long.

Chariots of Fire is more fast black metal that the genre would become known for, 13 Candles is midpaced headbanging greatness so drenched in so much Satanism Anton La Vey cums so hard he poops a little. And the whole thing is capped off with ...Of Doom...the fastest song on the album which practically matches Burning Of Sodom (Dark Angel) in speed! Everything about this song is fast, especially the vocals. I’m surprised Quorthon’s tongue didn’t yell “fuck this!” and jump out of his mouth running away screaming. The album fades out, which I usually detest but the song ends on such a high level of intensity it doesn’t matter.

It is solely because of this album that I had to respect black metal. Is it any wonder that the likes of Darkthrone, Mayhem, Burzum chose to kick off the second wave by completely ripping it off? Could you blame them?

Recommended tracks:
Enter The Eternal Fire
13 Candles
Woman of Dark Desires
Call From The Grave