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Seeds of Death - 95%

Iron Wizard, June 15th, 2017

After Bathory released the masterpiece that was Under the Sign of the Black Mark, they were left with a big void to fill musically. The album written to fill this role was Blood Fire Death. This album is often hailed as the "first Viking metal album" and recognised as influential for this reason, and while this isn't really any sort of departure from black metal, it is still a monumental album and representative of a transitional period for Bathory.

A classically inspired choral opening, entitled "Odens Ride over Nordland", begins the album, giving it a dark, pseudo-religious aesthetic due to the piece's resemblance to choral church music. Then, the slow, marching battle anthem "A Fine Day to Die" comes in, first with some acoustics and more choral work, and then the heavy riffs and chilling screams. This track makes it immediately clear why this album is heralded amongst black metal fans. It is essentially a war anthem of sorts. The production is not as good as it was when it reached its epitome on Under the Sign of the Black Mark, but it's close and still fitting for the album. It is a bit less typical of Bathory, but still dark, brutal and menacing.

Musically, Blood Fire Death contains more tempo related extremes, being laden with both thrashy stuff and more room inspired stuff, even more so than its predecessor. The songs are more militant, dealing more with war, battle, and death than Satanism, Hell, and the other more mainstream Occult musings of earlier Bathory. The, music itself, being more violent and less eerie fits these lyrics themes well. The appearance of Nordic themes has yet to come into full fruition, with only some vague references to Norse deities being found on this album. If "war metal" were an actual genre, this album would be hailed as it's roots. When one hears the chorus of "The Golden Walls of Heaven" or "Holocaust", they cannot help but be charged with fearsome energy.

Two new musicians appear on Blood Fire Death. Vvornth on drums Kothaar on bass. The former is an insane drummer. He pounds the shit out of the drumset, creating some violent blastbeats mixed in with more straightforward, yet forceful parts. When listening to Bathory, my main focus is usually on the atmosphere, vocals, and lyrics, however Vvornth is definitely an unsung great of the drum world, and adds another element to this album. Quorthon's vocals have lost some of their morbid edge, in favor of a more standard, yet more violent sound. He doesn't sound as evil as he used to here, though I'm not sure if the more evil sound would even fit on Blood Fire Death.

If you are interested in black metal, even to the slightest, Blood Fire Death (along with almost all of Bathory's discography), is a necessity in your emporium of black metal records.