Swedish metal masters Bathory released their debut album in 1984. Their debut album plus the three albums that followed it would set the foundations for the slew of black metal bands which would come out in the 1990s.
Bathory, led by mastermind Quorthon, not only laid the foundation of black metal, but also the black metal off shoots of Viking metal and pagan metal. Their first three albums were pure black metal with lyrics about Satan and anti-Christian themes plus very fast raw sounding recordings with screamed vocals. Bathory shifted a bit with their 1988 album Blood Fire Death which incorporated some acoustic guitars, and choir type vocals to pair with the fast black metal style music. Lyrical themes shifted on this album as well and focused on Vikings rather than evil themes.
The 1990 album Hammerheart continued on with the Viking theme. Bathory also slowed down the pace of their music a bit with this album. Hammerheart also incorporated more acoustic guitars and choir vocals. While the vocals are still shouted they are more understandable than previous releases.
Hammerheart really sets a mood that makes me feel like I’m in Scandinavia during the Viking Age. This album is an epic and just has a certain feel to it that makes me imagine I’m there on the shores of Sweden over 1,000 years ago saying goodbye to my family before I hop into my ship to go do some pillaging.
While artists in black metal bands may quote the albums preceding Hammerheart as Bathory’s best I find Hammerheart to be my favorite. It presents a different atmosphere than its predecessors and makes for a really enjoyable listen.
My favorite songs on this album are “Shores in Flames”, “Baptised in Fire and Ice” (great guitar solo in this one), “Father to Son”, and “One Rode to Asa Bay”.
While Bathory are well known in the extreme metal world and highly regarded for their influence and talent we haven’t provided much coverage of them on Metal Mofos. I hope some of our readers enjoy this introduction.
Quorthon sadly passed away in 2004 from heart failure, but he left behind a great metal legacy for all of us to enjoy.
Give a listen to my favorite song from Hammerheart, “Baptised in Fire and Ice”
Written by Isaac Sauers
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