Review: Bathory

Venom may have given rise and gave the genre a name with their 1982 album Black Metal, but it was 1984’s self-titled debut from Swedish band Bathory and Celtic Frost‘s debut Morbid Tales which gave rise to the genre itself.

Venom laid a basic template; cheap recording and a penchant for Motörhead level enthusiasm. Bathory didn’t deviate from the aesthetic all that much but they introduced a new element which proved pivotal at the early days and the bane of any meaningful discussion with fanatics of the genre; religious adherence to the style and subject matter. There is no divergence into early avant-garde metal nor the tendency to bust out a blues jam. This would be mind-numbingly tedious if the album was under thirty minutes in length. Lyrically the album stays on point without dropping to general rock and roll joviality.

Thomas Börje Forsberg, better known as Quorthon, claims to have not listen to Venom prior to Bathory being made. Drummer Jonas Åkerlund, who left the band prior to the album, refuted this years later in the book Swedish Death Metal. We’ll never known but Quorthon‘s claim is stretching the imagination a lot. But there is an element of truth to it nonetheless. Bathory have a little more in common with burgeoning Bay Area thrash metal acts than the early Motörhead inspiration. It is badly muddled in the horrible production but there is a more, actual, thrash metal ethos to the overall recording.

Time has robbed the impact of Bathory‘s importance in musical literature. But its placement and reverence in the history of black metal especially cannot be overstated. The album perhaps more so than any other gave future black metal bands the studious material needed to craft what came. Least we forget that in terms of simple oneupmanship, this release and black metal in general predates death metal by several years. That being said, progenitors of death metal took less time to carve a niche whilst black metal spent a lot of time being an angrier and cheap imitation of Motörhead.

Rating : 7 / 10

Where to buy :

Track Listing :

  1. Storm of Damnation (Intro)
  2. Hades
  3. Reaper
  4. Necromansy
  5. Sacrifice
  6. In Conspiracy with Satan
  7. Armageddon
  8. Raise the Dead
  9. War
  10. Outro