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One of the best albums of all time - 100%

vargbajs, January 18th, 2015
Written based on this version: 2003, CD, Black Mark Production (Reissue)

What haven't been said about this album already? It's been almost universally hailed and I've yet to hear anyone into metal dislike the first Bathory album. If I were to describe this record in a few words I would say that it's raw and simplistic. During this review these words often came to mind in describing what's on here.

The songs on here are all fantastic with their simple yet defined and strong riffs. All of them built around easy verse/chorus structures much in the same vein as Venom and Motörhead (the bands this album most often is compared to – and for good reasons). This in no way deteriorates from the experience but instead makes every song readily acceptable and all of them feels like a hit track. The songs, due to their structure and tonality are somewhat similar but the quality is so high that the similarity doesn't come of as a problem.

Quorthon's vocals are some of my favourite screeches in metal and on this album his voice has this perfect balance between demonic howl, teen angst and and sleazy rock 'n' roll charm. If they ever would have played live I think that Quorthon would strut along the stage like he owned it – like any good rock/metal front-man should.

The music on the other hand is a bit sloppier. As mentioned the songs are good and Quorthons guitar playing is proficient but the rest of the band really only goes through the motions. The bass is barely audible and for the most times follows the guitar or play the root. In some places the bass does something different like for example in the chorus of 'In conspiracy with Satan' which is nice in it's simplicity. The drums, too, are kept to the bare minimum and never stray from variations on simple rock beats and some kind sloppy proto-blastbeat, that I call the one-beat (I don't know if it has a proper name) where snare, kick and cymbals are all struck at the same time on every beat. Simple stuff indeed but it has charm and tons of it. The sound is so raw and energetic that I can't do anything else than surrender to the awesomeness that these tracks have. This is probably the best ever debut album and one of the absolutely best albums ever, in any genre.

The one and only real complaint that I have is that on my release [the 2003 remaster] the intro 'Storm of Damnation' and 'Hades' are the same track. When listening to the full album this is no problem but sometimes I only want to hear Hades and don't really feel like waiting for it. That, however, does not deteriorate the supreme quality of this album.

Best tracks: Raise the Dead, Hades, Necromansy
Worst tracks: none, not even Storm of Damnation is bad.