Quorthon (Bathory) would’ve been 46 years old by now

I forgot to post this news yesterday because of some sudden problems I had to face. Yesterday  was an important day for every infatuated metalhead all over the globe (at least the true ones, surely not those used with commercial shit but with true metal).

The mastermind behind one of the most important metal projects ever, Bathory would’ve celebrated his 48th year since birth if he wouldn’t have died back in 2004 because of a heart failure. But who was Quorthon? A definite and justified answer has not been brought up even today. Quorthon, supposedly named Thomas Forsberg, was born on February 17, 1966 in Stockholm, Sweden.

He entered in the metal realm around the age of 16 when he composed and recorded two songs which were part of a split album between various artists and bands. He came up with two songs entitled Sacrifice and The Return Of Darkness And Evil, songs that would attract a lot of attention back in 1984 when it was released and available. Quorthon in his early years played a hybrid black metal, movement began by the British NWOBHM band Venom with their 1982 record Black Metal. However, what Quorthon did until the beginning of the 1990s was way more astonishing. If there is a personality credited for shaping the black metal we know today, discarding the speed and thrash metal elements present, then Quorthon is that person.

From 1984 until 1989 Quorthon released 4 important black metal records which will inspired countless second wave black metal bands. Bathory (1984), marked the beginning of his musical project, The Return… (1985) is even today considered the mark of true evil in the history of black metal, no other record could match the maliciousness present in this gem and finally, the most outstanding work that defined and shaped black metal, Under The Sign Of The Black Mark (1987). Blood Fire Death was later released in 1988 but this record featured hints of a style change, which will happen in 1990 with the release of Hammerheart soon followed by Twilight Of The Gods in 1991, two of the most important viking metal albums, genre that has been created by Quorthon himself. So we have the shaping of a genre and the creation of another one, but was this all that Quorthon did? Not at all, he even played thrash metal in albums such as Requiem (1994) and Octagon (1995). Then again he turned back to the viking metal roots releasing what was supposed to be the 5th Bathory record, Blood on Ice (1996). Destroyer of Worlds (2001) blended all three genres in one record while Nordland I (2002) and Nordland II (2003) were the beginning of a saga composed of 4 ports, saga that he would not live to continue.

As side projects, when he claimed that he would put Bathory to rest after Twilight Of The Gods, he founded a solo project, named after his own nickname, in which he played a combination between alternative rock/metal and early grunge. He released under that name 2 albums, Album (1994) and Purity of Essence (1997) after placing it to rest for good. He even contributed in Jennie Tebler‘s new formed band with instrumental, for the single Silverwing released only in 2005, after his death (Jennie Tebler’s band played gothic metal).

Quorthon did not only contribute with various albums which shaped and created genres, he had an important impact on Norway’s culture. With his lyrics featured in albums like Hammerheart, Twilight Of The Gods or Blood on Ice, he managed to attract attention towards the viking civilizations, action which resulted with an important interest in this respective culture. Many people were attracted by the tales foretold by Quorthon in his own albums and the rate of tourists grew in Norway in the mid to late 90s and it still grows even today. Bathory was not only an inspiration for black metal bands but also for future viking metal bands, though the genre itself has kinda disappeared with the death of its own creator.

All in all, while people mourn the oh so tragic death of Whitney Houston, which technically was a suicide, I mean, how stupid can you be to swallow pills while knowing that you drank alcohol, come on peeps, I am not at my first experience with alcohol so I know, pills won’t do any good while you can’t even speak properly because of how much alcohol you’ve consumed. This man revolutionized one of the most loved and one of the most important music genre, and he cannot even get a bit of appreciation for that? This world is pretty unfair, too bad Quorthon loved it and left to us, the ungrateful bastards, a priceless legacy.

 

Quorthon, May Valhalla open its doors and welcome you with a Pounding Hammerheart!

Bathory – Twilight Of The Gods (1991) Album Review

What is with these Bathory reviews? someone asked me a while ago. Truthfully, Bathory is a band that nowadays is mostly known by some experience and more older fans of metal, or maybe by some fans that appreciate some particular metal genres. Bathory, in my opinion, deserves a place together with bands that written history in both rock and metal, bands such as, Black Sabbath, Motorhead, Guns n Roses, Iron Maiden or Judas Priest.

Bathory influenced bands in 2 of the most appreciated metal genres nowadays, and maybe, two of the most extreme metal genres of all time, viking metal and black metal. I do not want to get into their black metal early days and since I recently finished reviewing Hammerheart (1990), it is only normal to continue with its follower, and much more amazing, Twilight of the Gods (1991).

Hammerheart was a great experience. Quorthon hinted in his 1988 release of his 4th album Blood Fire Death that he is going to change his playing style and switch to something a little bit more atmospheric and at a slower pace. Hammerheart was well received, well enough to have a follower that followed it pretty fast (just 1 year difference between albums, it is really a performance).

Twilight of the Gods continues the saga, so to say. Like in Hammerheart, the major themes in this album are nature, vikings, legends, myths and also the anti-christian theme was not abandoned in this one either. A person that has been listening throughout his albums might figure it out that in almost all of them, he always persecuted Christianity when he had the chance.

This album begins with such a persecution. The self titled track, Twilight of the Gods is the most longest track of this album reaching almost 13 minutes length. It is composed of a prologue that lasts for around 1 minute, the song itself, and an epilogue, which lasts again for around 1 minute. Thematically speaking, this song is the work of a genius. Going to rant a little bit about hip-hop artists: You guys should listen or at least read the lyrics of this song, this is how you can portray a realistic view of the world and in a more amazingly way. We can also feel some doom metal influences in this song.

The 2nd and 3rd track of this album, Through Blood By Thunder and Blood and Iron follow the same patter that we were used to after listening the 1st track. To be honest, they sound a little bit monotonous. The first one represents Quorthon’s view upon the world claiming that the ones that watch over us are the gods in the never ending sky and the one that chooses and writes his own destiny are not the gods, but man himself. “He with one-eye” represents a viking god, in my opinion, Oden most likely. Blood and Iron changes the theme into a battle one, it is more like a military song rather than an atmospheric song like the previous ones.

Under the Runes and To Enter Your Mountain follows a similar pattern with Blood and Iron, continuing the saga with more details. A bad thing regarding these songs is that they do not come up with new style, they sound monotonous and way too repetitive, but it wouldn’t be a Bathory album if they were any different, somehow you can overlook this because of the way the songs flow.

Bond of Blood the 6th track of the album ends the saga while the last song, the 7th track, Hammerheart (weird though, this song is not part of the first album which is self titled, rather it is part of the second one) is the resolution and also the conclusion of this album, ending it like it began, in an atmospheric way. Hammerheart is more of an hymn rather than a song, a hymn dedicated to the viking gods and to the viking people.

Blood Fire Death was the signal for a change of play, Hammerheart was the first experimental album in this new field but Twilight of the Gods in my opinion, serves as the best viking metal album ever made by Bathory and Quorthon, a place that could not be taken even nowadays but other bands. In my opinion, true viking metal died together with Quorthon, simply because the other bands could not reach even a quarter of the sound and style that Quorthon adopted in his works.

Overall Impression: 98/100

Bathory – Hammerheart (1990) Album Review

A true legend of the underground metal. In a few words, this is how I could define Bathory, originally a band, but later it became the solo project of a prodigy, Quorthon. Quorthon proved his musical skills from a young age, at only 17 years he started Bathory with 2 additional band members. By placing two of his songs in a compilation, his songs attracted a lot of attention.

Hammerheart marked a change in his musical career. This was the first album he recorded alone. From now on, Bathory will be his solo project with him handling all the instruments, including recording, producing and vocals as well. Hammerheart marked a change in his style, changing from the typical hybrid metal black metal that he played until Blood Fire Death (1988) and pioneering a genre that later will be called as viking metal.

Quorthon and his band Bathory are claimed to be the true creators of this genre. However, while listening through all of his albums, you can also feel black metal elements in it. The thing is, he changed his playing style. Instead of continuing with the typical fast tempo guitar riffs and blast drum beats, he choose a more atmospheric path, reducing the rawness that was featured in his more earlier works. He even gave up doing shrieked voice, which later will define all the black metal bands.

Hammerheart has a more slower rhythm, you can feel the atmosphere so to say. Quorthon’s voice is purely awesome. Through this album, you can feel that he does not have the true qualities that the vocals nowadays have, at least on studio albums, but I think, this is what makes his voice rather fantastic. You can say that he has character through his voice, which is pretty much imperfect.

Another change is that you can also hear choirs in the background of his songs. His songs also feature new themes. Mythological themes, historical themes mostly related to the vikings, nature themes as well but also the anti-christian theme was not abandoned either. The only thing that he abandoned was the occult and the satanic themes featured on his early albums.

By far, the best song of this album is actually kept as the last track. One Rode to Asa Bay describes a historical moment when christian missionaries walked on the Norse lands to convert the native villagers to their own religion and for starters they requested the building of a church in a land called Asa Bay. This song is more or less, like a story, depicting the reaction the native villagers had and also the way the Christians reacted once the native villagers refused to build the church for them.

This song is truly the work of a genius. Religious people might find it a blasphemy, but for me, knowing how cruel and how barbaric religion has been with people that had other beliefs, its the truth in its pure state. The ending of the song with the lyrics “Still he heard from somewhere in the woods / Old crow of wisdom say / …people of Asa Bay, it’s only just begun…“. The song was dedicated to a writer named Dean Andersson a person that has been writing books about the viking culture and also the moment when they faced the christian conversion.

The album actually begins with the song Shores in Flame featuring acoustic guitars. The 2nd track Valhalla is a lot more heavier than the previous one featuring fast tempo guitar riffs and amazing guitar solos. Baptised in Fire and Ice is in my opinion the poorest song from this album, it feels a little repetitive at times. It is followed up by Father to Son which is a lot more atmospheric than the other songs which makes it one of the best songs from this album. Song to Hall up High serves as a well deserved pause before the last 3 tracks, featuring melodic elements, it is like an elegy consisting of a resolution made by a viking warrior, expressing his emotions (actually 2 tracks, in the 2003 reissue). Home of Once Brave is another track which competes for the best track from this album, featuring atmospheric guitar riffs and impressive vocals from Quorthon.

One Rode to Asa Bay already mentioned above is the last track of this album. Though the voice might disturb a little bit since it does not quite fit the rhythm, the guitar solos, which are few so to say, and the instrumentals are absolutely amazing. Outro servers as an end for this epic album, being the shortest song.

In conclusion, Bathory’s 1990 release is one of the most noticeable and one of the most important works which defined a genre and inspired many other bands. However, in my opinion, true viking metal died together with Quorthon and Bathory but his music will last forever as a point of reference in the metal scene and also for the fans.

Overall Impression: 95/100