Last week we examined the origin of the term black metal via Venom’s second album, which gave the genre its name. In this week’s edition of Black Metal Friday we examine what many consider to be the first true example of the black metal sound and aesthetic. Listen to the sample below.
Bathory was a Swedish band founded by 17-year-old singer and guitarist, Thomas Forsberg aka Quorthon in 1983. The band was named after notorious Hungarian countess Elizabeth Bathory who was rumored to have tortured and killed hundreds of girls and bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth. Venom had also name checked her with the song “Countess Bathory.”
Here below with the third track from their self-titled debut album is Bathory, performing the track “Reaper.”
Quorthon convinced his father, who owned a record label to include two Bathory tracks on a metal compilation that the label was to issue. The response to the songs was so positive that his father was convinced to release a full-length Bathory album.
The first four Bathory albums are considered to be the blueprint on which all black metal that followed was based. The fast, distorted, low-fi sound with unconventional vocals that were often high pitched, screamed or growled would become the sonic definition of black metal. Bathory also contributed greatly to the visual archetype of the genre with their use of black leather clothing, bullet belts, and Satanic or occult imagery.
Initially a three piece band, Bathory ceased giving live performances in 1985 as Qourthon took over the role of sole member. Bathory would only issue one official video, which would come much later, near the end of the band’s existence.
After four albums in the black metal mold, Quorthon would tire of the Satanic imagery and break neck pace of the music that he had helped pioneer. He began to produce a much more epic style of music with its imagery and lyrics inspired by Scandinavian mythology. This would be the second genre that Quorthon helped define and it would come to be known as viking metal.
Quorthon would continue to produce albums in this vein as Bathory and more straight ahead rock fare under his own name until his death of heart failure in 2004 at the age of 38.