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Let's take a step back from the kvltness for a sec - 79%

TrooperEd, March 6th, 2018
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Black Mark Production (Reissue)

If Count Cronos, Vampire Supreme was the Supreme Allied Commander of Lucifer's legions, Quorthon can be considered the renegade officer who broke off from the group and decided to start his own little faction because he didn't think the Count's methods were dastardly enough. That's all well and good, but you do look a little foolish and hypocritical when you lift war cries word for word.

"I gasp for air
I scream for sight
and fight against torment and dread
Calling the vengeance
I tear at the lid and
promise to raise from the dead"

- Bathory, 1984

"My lungs gasp for air, my eyes scream for sight
I promise the rise of my body this night"
"I tear at the lid, my fingers they bleed"

- Venom, 1982

Both songs are called Raise The Dead, and both albums share another title called Sacrifice. Oops.

If this album were to come out today Bathory might have considered a laughing stock and possibly driven out of metal for such outright plagiarism. In this respect, we should be quite grateful for the inaccessibility of the underground because Bathory would not have been able to transform into the monster they would become. Nonetheless, for the reputation that this album has, you'd figure it would be more accomplished. For all the T-shirts and posing with this album cover akin to posing with the Holy Grail of metal, one wonders why The Return, Under The Sign of the Black Mark and even Blood Fire Death are considered anything accept failures to match the raw witchery of the debut. Except that that popular opinion and history consistently shows that while the first Bathory album is quality, it simply doesn't do what its successors do. Not to mention that that Storm of Damnation intro, atmospheric as fuck as it may be, just goes on for too long, especially when you realize it's a loop. You're scared for the first sixty seconds or so but you just want Hades to start already.

But one thing that is very apparent about Quorthon is that even here he is a much better musician than all three members of Venom combined. Granted that's not saying a whole lot, but all it takes is one cursory listen of the last half of Necromansy to realize that the man has more musical feeling in his fretboad than a majority of most traditional metal soloists. His solos are simple, melodic, yet very fierce. The man ain't afraid to shred either. Again, just listen to the chaos of Necromansy's solo as the final salvo switches to a Bloodlust/Phantom of the Opera style assault. The rhythm section is merely just a simple backing rhythm whether it be lightning fast, thrashy, or even arena rock-esque with Raise The Dead. If Quorthon would have put together a fabulously evil video for this song it would have been huge on MTV (or at least as huge as any of the Manowar videos were). Another subtle difference is the vocal tone of Quorthon as opposed to Venom. I wasn't making the military comparisons for the sake of senority. Cronos sounds as if he's giving a speech under a bloody, black satanic flag. But Quorthon's raspiness gives it almost a demon tone. Like an underling wanting to start a mutiny. Cronos at least kinda sounded like a human.

The Bathory debut is a very good album and an important stepping stone in black metal, but let's act not they stepped out of Venom's (or even Hellhammer's) shadow just yet. If you want this because you want to hear Venom but just don't feel like putting on Welcome To Hell or Black Metal, by all means get it. Not to mention as a black metal fan your collection is not complete without this album.

Recommended Songs:

Raise The Dead