Bathory

Picture of Bathory

Bathory

Bathory - Bathory ©1984 Black Mark
1. Storm Of Damnation
2. Hades
3. Reaper
4. Necromansy
5. Sacrifice
6. In Conspiracy With Satan
7. Armageddon
8. Raise The Dead
9. War

In retrospect, it's a bit hard to believe that such an ugly, blatantly naive and primitive record would act as part of the template for an entire subcategory of music. Yet, Bathory's self titled 1984 release did just that and still serves as a major influence for black metal over fifteen years later.

When viewed objectively, this album is a horrible sounding and entirely youthful upchuck of rebellion. Everything is reduced to sonic mush and Quorthon rasps about various things that are evil and naughty. Moreover, the album is done within a half hour's time. Something this ugly, influenced by a pair of even uglier bands in Motorhead and Venom, should have the shelf life of a fruit fly. Yet there is something peculiar about its allure. Metal has always had its share of fans who truly prefer the most primitive, ugly and raw music around and Bathory fits that necessity perfectly. It doesn't take much to notice the major influence of Venom in Bathory's style, as well as a bit of Motorhead. Either way, Bathory took the first step on redefining this particular area of grotesque music and became the major influence for an entire generation of metalheads.

Needless to say, this record demands inclusion in your collection if you call yourself a fan of black metal. Its historical value is immense, although it isn't quite the prettiest listen in the world. You can either look at it as a juvenile outburst of rebellion disguised as Satanic metal or one of the first true black metal albums. Regardless, its impact upon metal is still being felt.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2001

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The Return

Bathory - The Return ©1985 Black Mark
1. Revelation Of Doom
2. Total Destruction
3. Born For Burning
4. The Wind Of Mayhem
5. Bestial Lust
6. Possessed
7. The Rite Of Darkness
8. Reap Of Evil
9. Son Of The Damned
10. Sadist
11. Return Of The Darkness And Evil

Aesthetically, early Bathory had a lot in common with a 1977 Plymouth Fury today. It was the ugliest band on the lot, couldn't keep a steady speed, and made a really horrible noise the whole time it ran. Their second album sounds as if it was recorded inside a dirty toilet with half a rehearsal; Quorthon's voice is raspier than an octopus' tongue; and two out of three songs are complete garbage.

However, this album does feature some of the elements that would ultimately make Bathory what it became: slower scary moments ("Reap of evil"), atmospheric intro ("Revelation of Doom"), and even a handful of really good, if primitive, black/doom metal songs ("Born for Burning").

This album is an almost perfect musical disaster from start to finish, and only necessary for historical reasons. Curious dark souls willing to investigate this eminently important band are better served by starting with their next album.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 06/2001

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Under The Sign Of The Black Mark

Bathory - Under The Sign Of The Black Mark ©1986 Black Mark
1. Nocternal Obeisance
2. Massacre
3. Woman Of Dark Desires
4. Call From The Grave
5. Equimanthorn
6. Enter The Eternal Fire
7. Chariots Of Fire
8. 13 Candles
9. Of Doom

Under the Sign of the Black Mark is Bathory's third album and the last in their first, pre-viking phase. The music is relatively slow ur-black-metal, complete with thin, raspy guitars and shredded-larynx vocals. However, contrary to a myriad later albums by lesser black metal emulators, Under the Sign of the Black Mark's extreme ugliness never reaches critical mass, and the record thus remains endearing to this day in spite of its obvious shortcomings, which include an atrocious recording, wavering tempos, uneven mix levels and some less-than-memorable songs ("Massacre" and "Chariots of Fire", which sounds like a sped-up South Park ditty).

Through the sludge, one can already distinguish some of the elements that would make Bathory's grandest albums so grand: reasonably dramatic keyboards, windy introductions, Quorthon's solidly established and mature guitar playing style, and a handful of excellent songs, some of which foreshadow the epic "Hammerheart" ("Enter the Eternal Fire").

While Bathory's first album became a must-have essentially for historical (but not musical) reasons, Under the Sign of the Black Mark contains a number of really good songs and stands on its own merits. Not an everyday listen, but a required album.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 04/2001

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Blood Fire Death

Bathory - Blood Fire Death ©1987 Kraze/Under One Flag
1. Odens Ride Over Nordland
2. A Fine Day To Die
3. The Golden Walls Of Heaven
4. Pace Till Death
5. Holocaust
6. For All Those Who Died
7. Dies Irae
8. Blood Fire Death

Blood Fire Death is quite possibly the most revered Bathory album amongst the fans. Admittedly this isn't my personal favorite, but there are plenty of reasons why it is still an amazing and stunning album. First of all, considering the speed frenzy of past Bathory albums, Blood Fire Death introduces a whole new side to Quorthon's wandering musical visions: namely that Viking thing. "A Fine Day to Die" is a perfect opening song, with a very dominating straightforward beat and epic riffs. While Quorthon is still hoarsely screaming for the most part, his vocals fit the music well. The other highly impressive song (which foreshadows the Hammerheart direction) is the closing title track. This track firmly establishes the mood and setting for the future Bathory, relying again on the slower, but thudding tempo as well as a unique guitar style. Quorthon also uses backing vocals and choir effects to move the songwriting up an echelon. What makes this album not my favorite, however, is the middle of the album. The faster blitzcore tracks don't particularly do much for me anymore. "Holocaust", "Dies Irae" and the others start with nearly the same type of intro and just race from beginning to end without much sense of dynamics. I suppose this is good for releasing aggression, but with the epic bookends setting a new standard, these songs aren't too terribly impressive. Nevertheless, Blood Fire Death is a huge standout from the thrash scene of late 80s and is still mandatory listening for anyone who fancies themselves a black metal fan.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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Hammerheart

Bathory - Hammerheart ©1990 Noise Int.
1. Shores In Flames
2. Valhalla
3. Baptised In Fire An Ice
4. Father To Son
5. Song To Hall Up High
6. Home Of Once Brave
7. One Rode To Asa Bay

Though sharp eared individuals might have heard traces of what was to come on Blood Fire Death, the completely new direction Bathory took on Hammerheart must have been a massive shock to the legions of Bathory fans in the underground worldwide. Discarding the speed and spitfire assaults of the first three albums, Quorthon's excursion into Viking mythology opened up a new door in extreme metal and the effects are still with us today in Bathory proteges throughout the world.

I found this tape in the summer of 1991 and it remained in my stereo incessantly throughout that season. Certainly one of the most original recordings I had heard up to that point, the music captured my imagination and heart like so few other metal albums. From the off base production (as the liner notes of 1996's Blood on Ice reveal, this album really was recorded in a garage) to the choirs and epic tracks, Hammerheart was more than just another collection of metal anthems. It was a life and dimension unto itself. With the exception of the uncomfortable "Song to Hall Up High" that proved Quorthon needed some work on his clean singing voice, every single song on here is phenomenal. "One Rode to Asa Bay" stands out as the true pinnacle of the album, telling the tale of the Christian invasion into the Viking realms in medieval times. "Shores in Flames" describes a Viking attack on a foreign shore and is told so well that it can actually induce chills. Quorthon obviously put a lot of thought into his lyrics on this album.

Musically, Hammerheart is nothing short of a masterpiece, standing apart from all other albums in my mind. Using oddly distorted guitars, acoustic passages, and truly fitting solos, the music fully creates the proper mood necessary for the lyrical concept. Quorthon's multi-tracked choir vocals in the background were another milestone, adding much atmosphere and depth. Even with simple riffs, songs like "Valhalla" and "Home of Once Brave" are turned into grand epics. Hammerheart stands alone in a field of hundreds of extreme metal releases, a truly innovative and powerful release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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Twilight Of The Gods

Bathory - Twilight Of The Gods ©1991 Black Mark
1. Twilight Of The Gods
2. Through Blood By Thunder
3. Blood And Iron
4. Under The Runes
5. To Enter Your Mountain
6. Bond Of Blood
7. Hammerheart

Twilight of the Gods was indeed a unique creature in the ever permutating history of Bathory. Taking the Viking drama of Hammerheart to a more drawn out and lamenting end, Twilight is a very epic piece of work that, if nothing else, proved Quorthon's wide range of ability. Obviously the black metal blueprints of his first three albums were far in his past. Rather, long, quiet acoustic passages as well as somewhat heavier sections were arranged quite majestically. As with the intro to "Blood and Iron" or the bulk of the title track, the contrasting aggression and soliloquy-via-acoustic-guitar sections brought out a lot of emotion to the music.

Twilight of the Gods was not without some degree of problems. Quorthon frankly does not have a great clean voice, which he uses throughout the album. Though it is much more confident than the achingly weak vocals on Hammerheart's "Song to Hall Up High", it still wavers in strength and conviction. The other major difficulty with the album is that the foreboding gloom can be difficult to wade through if you as a listener are not in the mind frame to digest it properly. This album has both been a rewarding, moving experience and a tiresome ordeal, depending on my moods. Regardless, it makes for a great followup to the magnificent Hammerheart and closed the book on probably the best era of the Bathory history.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/1999

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Jubileum Volume I

Bathory - Jubileum Volume I ©1993 Black Mark
1. Rider At The Gate Of Dawn
2. Crawl To Your Cross
3. Sacrifice
4. Dies Irae
5. Through Blood By Thunder
6. You Don't Move Me (I Don't Give A Fuck)
7. Odens Ride Over Nordland
8. A Fine Day To Die
9. War
10. Enter The Eternal Fire
11. Song To Hall Up High
12. Sadist
13. Under The Runes
14. Equimanthorn
15. Blood Fire Death

After pouring his soulful little heart out for the two "Viking" records, Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods, Bathory's Quorthon stepped back and began the Jubileum series of compilations. More than just a rehashed collection of songs already had by most Bathory fanatics (and trust me, there is no such thing as a casual Bathory listener), Quorthon was kind enough to include three unreleased tracks and one hard to find song from the 1984 Scandanavian Metal Attack, where Bathory first burst onto the scene with their Venom/Motorhead bastard child. The rest of the album is comprised of selections from the Bathory studio releases. As a result, you get a collection that won't replaced your weathered and bloodstained original releases, but acts as a great bookend.

All phases of Bathory receive attention here, from the simple and bombastic "War" from the self-titled debut to the dense, over the top sludge of The Return to later, moodier pieces from Twilight of the Gods and Hammerheart. As for the unreleased or rare tracks, "Rider at the Gate of Dawn" is a good intro piece. "You Don't Move Me (I Don't Give a Fuck)" is reminiscient of both Venom and Motorhead and demonstrates Quorthon's youthful rebellious feelings. "Crawl To Your Cross" is an all out blitz from a rumored unreleased studio album that supposedly was to follow up Blood Fire Death as a return to the speed hell of their first three albums. "Sacrifice" is another Venom/Motorhead tinged bit.

On a whole, Jubileum Volume I is bit disjointed listen, due to the stylistic swings throughout the disc. No heed is given to chronological order, so you find yourself jaunting from the ode of "Hammerheart" to the jarring speedcore of "Sadist" in seconds. Regardless this collection, as well as Jubileum Volume II, capture the essence of Bathory from their primitive beginnings through all of Quorthon's personality shifts. Even if you have all the studio albums, this collection is necessary.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2000

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Jubileum Volume II

Bathory - Jubileum Volume II ©1993 Black Mark
1. The Return Of Darkness And Evil
2. Burnin' Leather
3. One Rode To Asa Bay
4. The Golden Walls Of Heaven
5. Call From The Grave
6. Die In Fire
7. Shores In Flames
8. Possessed
9. Raise The Dead
10. Total Destruction
11. Bond Of Blood
12. Twilight Of The Gods

When the drums kick in on the opening "The Return of Darkness and Evil", can you say Motorhead? The second issue of the Jubileum collection is another career retrospective of Quorthon's long-running project that compiles album tracks with various unreleased and compilation songs. As with the first volume, you can hear for yourself all the various incarnations Bathory undertook from a Motorhead/Venom influenced act to their own groundbreaking blueprints for black metal and finally their Viking albums. The unreleased tracks aren't really anything special; "Burnin' Leather" is pretty much an excuse for all out speed and "Die in Fire" is a rather amusing four-track demo recording. However, Hammerheart's two best tracks "One Rode to Asa Bay" and "Shores in Flames" are both included as well as "Call From the Grave" from Under the Sign of the Black Mark (it's not referring to Bathory's current record label). Overall, not a bad place for a new fan to start when paired with the first Jubileum collection and a nice little nostalgic overview of the development of Bathory for the long time fan.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1998

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Requiem

Bathory - Requiem ©1994 Black Mark
1. Apocalypse
2. Blood And Soil
3. Crosstitution
4. Distinguish To Kill
5. Necroticus
6. Pax Vobiscum
7. Requiem
8. Suffocate
9. War Machine

Bathory, if nothing else, will be remembered for many major stylistic detours, left turns and retrogressions. Quorthon may have surprised many with his transition from the template for modern black metal of his first three albums by diving into the slower, more orchestrated "Viking metal" of Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods, but at least he presented some foreshadowing on Blood Fire Death. Requiem, the first studio release after Twilight of the Gods, is a jab in the eye with a pointy stick and yet another complete turnaround for Sweden's enigmatic father of extreme metal.

Requiem is a very raw, ugly and vicious release that completely discards the beautiful and epic elements of Bathory's previous two studio recordings and reverts to a primal form similar to much 80s thrash, particularly the Bay Area style. The riffing is very crunchy and reminiscient to Slayer or Testament with Quorthon providing vocals so raw that you'll be diving for the medicine cabinet to find sore throat remedies on his behalf. Inappropriate guitar solos are tossed into each song haphazardly, giving yet another nod to a Slayer style for this album. While you get the impression this album wasn't so much produced as simply recorded and then roughly mixed together for maximum ugliness, there is much clarity between the instruments. For the most part it just seems like Quorthon had been listening to all his old thrash metal albums from his 80s contemporaries and got a wild hair to make his own record in that vein. Only the final track, "War Machine", has the flair of older Bathory with the overlaid leads and a more epic, gripping feel to the song.

This tends to be a vacuous, hedonistic record meant only for an occasional nasty mood and nothing more. While essentially every Bathory release up to 1992 could be considered a classic or at least a major influence on metal in one regard or another, Requiem is hardly necessary to anyone except maybe those who weren't around for 80s thrash. I believe I'd reach for any other Bathory record before I check this one out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 06/2001

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Octagon

Bathory - Octagon ©1995 Black Mark
1. Immaculate Pinetree Road #930
2. Born to Die
3. Psychopath
4. Sociopath
5. Grey
6. Century
7. 33 Something
8. War Supply
9. Schizianity
10. Judgement of Posterity
11. Deuce

Somewhere in the 90s, Quorthon entirely lost his way with Bathory, issuing a pair of albums that are, to put it nicely, total duds. And if you wish to be a little less polite, you could say that Requiem and Octagon are nearly unlistenable pieces of wretched garbage whose master tapes should have been destroyed in a suspicious fire set by any member of Norway's black metal arson squad. Sadly, after the rather difficult Requiem, Quorthon apparently could not be talked out of issuing the absymal Octagon, which instantly became the worst thing Bathory would ever release. There's no quibbling about this. Even the most dedicated Bathory fans recognize that Octagon was a terrible blunder.

While I can understand Quorthon not wishing to construct the pondersome, epic songs of Hammerheart, his attempt to simply be as extreme as possible turned out to be atrocious. Simply being harsh rarely achieves the desired results. In the case of Octagon, which also happens to feature the worst production quality of any Bathory release (this is no easy feat, mind you), Quorthon apparently thinks blasting out a few songs that lack any sense of dynamics somehow makes the music extreme. In this case, it just stinks. The album feels like it was written in a single day and recorded the next, with nary a thought to refining the songs even a single iota.

It is a shame that none of Quorthon's closest confidants had the nerve to tell him this album was rotten to the core and should have been immediately destroyed. But no, Black Mark released it anyhow. Unlike Celtic Frost's Cold Lake, an album so bad it at least merits a curiosity listen, Octagon is just unlistenable trash.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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Blood On Ice

Bathory - Blood On Ice ©1996 Black Mark
1. Intro
2. Blood On Ice
3. Man Of Iron
4. One Eyed Old Man
5. The Sword
6. The Stallion
7. The Woodwoman
8. The Lake
9. Gods Of Thunder Of Wind And Of Rain
10. The Ravens
11. The Revenge Of The Blood On Ice

You do realize, of course, that Quorthon has been toying with us all along. But he can identify with quite a slice of life. He's been a fire-breathing Satanic Demon (Bathory, The Return), he's been a sword-wielding hammer throwing Viking god (Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods), and he's been a machine shop with rust buildup (Requiem, Octagon). It's hard to peg this man. Until recently, when he's finally coming across in his interviews as Joe Musician, the mystique surrounding the man has been opaque as the cold black ocean waves.

So here we are, 1996, with an old/new Bathory album. According to lore, Blood on Ice was meant to follow Under the Sign of the Black Mark. But the resulting confusion of satanic gurgle metal followed by the epic Viking rock would send countless Bathory demonfans into a frenzied confused state. So Quorthon shelved it and recorded Blood Fire Death instead.

Then, for years, fans clamoured for this forgotten piece and in 1995, Quorthon relented--or ran out of material for new albums. And thank goodness he did. Pieced together from old tapes (read the excellent liner notes for the story behind the making of this album), Blood on Ice stands as a worthy predecessor to the Viking albums. The epic doomy nature of this recording has always been Bathory's finer sound. (Especially considering the generic sound of their speed era.)

Essential for anyone who really enjoyed the Viking era of Bathory.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/1997

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Jubileum Volume III

Bathory - Jubileum Volume III ©1998 Black Mark
1. 33 Something
2. Satan My Master
3. The Lake
4. Crosstitution
5. In Nomine Satanas
6. Immaculate Pinetreeroad #930
7. War Machine
8. The Stallion
9. Resolution Greed
10. Witchcraft
11. Valhalla Backing Vocals Multitrack Sample
12. Sociopath
13. Pax Vobiscum
14. Genocide
15. Gods Of Thunder Of Wind And Of Rain

The third compilation from Sweden's best known comedy act Bathory (all right, it's really not a comedy act, but Quorthon simply slays me at times) finds Quorthon putting together another collection of album tracks and unreleased goodies. This time he culled most of the material from his last three studio albums Requiem, Blood on Ice and Octogon. The Requiem and Octogon is another sidestep for Bathory, completely away from the prototypical black metal assault of his early years or the Viking era. Nearly unproduced and sounding very much like a car engine running on low oil, the inclusions here are a bit ugly and difficult to digest upon first listen. You could tell Quorthon was just doing this to screw around and play aggressive, fast music. If you read the lyrics for "33 Something", you quickly discover Quorthon doesn't have the knack of writing good psychopathic serial killer lyrics as, say, Tom Araya. In fact, the lyrics are an abomination on that song. It's hard to say if I'll ever be convinced to get Octogon or Requiem based on what is here. Of the unreleased tracks, "In Nomine Satanas" is a simply phenomenal epic track from the Blood Fire Death era. If you are a fan of that album, you need to hear this song. As with all the Jubileum compilations, this one provides a good overview for Bathory. If one were to get all three albums, you would have a fantastic introduction to the band, as well as a guide to which era you might like the best. And for the longtime fan, the unreleased tracks provide you with a reason to actually get the album.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Destroyer Of Worlds

Bathory - Destroyer Of Worlds ©2001 Black Mark
1. Lake Of Fire
2. Destroyer Of Worlds
3. Ode
4. Bleeding
5. Pestilence
6. 109
7. Death From Above
8. Krom
9. Liberty & Justice
10. Kill Kill Kill
11. Sudden Death
12. White Bones
13. Day Of Wrath

So it took Quorthon six years and countless delays to release this Destroyer of Worlds, an album he promised time and time again would blow the socks off all fans of all phases of Bathory's lengthy and multi-faceted existence. Perhaps he was stretching the truth a bit. Actually, he was outright lying. Although Destroyer of Worlds does start out with a trio of fine epic, Twilight of the Gods-esque numbers, the album quickly descends into the raw grunge-thrash of Requiem and Octogon on following numbers. Not only featuring subpar songwriting, Quorthon feels the need to treat us to some of his most tedious vocal performances to date. While many folks out there will profess to being avid fans of the style Bathory displayed on Twilight of the Gods and Hammerheart, I honest don't remember too many ardent, vehemently rabid fans of Requiem and Octogon. Granted, the tracks on Destroyer of Worlds contain more of a sense of groove than those on either of those two albums, but as stated earlier, Quorthon's vocals are often downright unlistenable. The guy has never been a fantastic vocalist, but at least in the past he was able to convey an approach more suitable for the music at hand.

The main problem I have with Destroyer of Worlds is simply that after so many years of silence, delay and promises in the press, the album fails completely to be nothing more than a handful of good songs surrounded by dross and filler. As evidenced by "Lake of Fire", the title track, "Ode" and the album closer, "Day of Wrath", Quorthon still has his knack for writing a great somber epic track, but four songs do not make for the most compelling of purchases.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2002

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Nordland Part I

Bathory - Nordland Part I ©2002 Black Mark
1. Predule
2. Nordland
3. Vinterblot
4. Dragons Breath
5. Ring Of Gold
6. Foreverdark Woods
7. Broken Sword
8. Great Hall Awaits A Fallen Brother
9. Mother Earth Father Thunder
10. Heimfard

So after the disastrous and almost entirely useless Destroyer of Worlds (which could have been retitled Destroyer of Quorthon's Career in Metal Music), there wasn't much hope for a speedy new release that would happen to be worth buying. Yet, Mr. Quorthon, the man who was once considered the Spawn of Satan Himself, has somehow been bitten by the prolific bug and already come up with a new album. Nordland I promises to be part one of a two CD set (hence the I). And for those who are terrified of the prospect of new Bathory, this one does not disappoint. Truly. I'm not kidding. It's actually good.

One could assume Mr. Quorthon read my review for Destroyer of Worlds and agreed that it seems as though the only style he has a profound knack for is the epic music of Blood on Ice, Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods. Destroyer was filled with so much filler material from his Octogon era that it rendered the album a festering heap of snail innards. I sincerely doubt Mr. Quorthon actually read or cares what I think, but apparently he picked up on the fact that people dig this epic stuff and he should stick with it. So as a result, Nordland I brings Bathory back to its best incarnation.

Two things stick out about this CD: 1) Quorthon's vocals are just atrocious. He simply can't sing. There are more attempts at clean sections here than ever before, as well as those mighty choruses. The vocals are rather uncomfortable. 2) The production is thick, heavy and thundering. This is about as appropriate of a sound as Bathory can conjure up for the style of music. The drawback to Nordland I, however, is that there is a tendency to stick too much to the one style and not vary things up at all. I know that Destroyer was an example of varying things too much, but there is a chance I'm not easily pleased no matter what is presented. The problem with Nordland I is that halfway through, it's quite easy to forget to pay attention any longer and by the time you reach "Heimfard", the instrumental outro, you wonder what happened to about twenty minutes of listening time. Unlike his two infamous epic classics, Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods, Nordland I is merely good whereas the other two records are downright amazing. Good is acceptable. It's definitely a step up for Mr. Quorthon, considering most of the last decade has been filled with tedious to awful music.

For those hesitant to pick up a new Bathory release, let me reassure you that Mr. Quorthon has finally done something worthy of his legacy. While fans of Hammerheart will not necessarily be dropping to their knees in reverent worship, they'll at least be putting the CD player to use.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2003

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Nordland Part II

Bathory - Nordland Part II ©2003 Black Mark
1. Fanfare
2. Blooded Shore
3. Sea Wolf
4. Vinland
5. The Land
6. Death And Resurrection Of A Northern Son
7. The Messenger
8. Flash Of The Silverhammer
9. The Wheel Of Sun
10. Instrumental

Granted, it was quite easy to get carried away when Nordland I was released. Bathory had been putting out some quite reprehensible material over the past decade and any return to the "Viking" sound was highly welcomed after some dismal junk-thrash albums. Destroyer of Worlds, the politician's album that tried to please all the fans, only had interesting moments when Quorthon decided to play his famous epic stuff. So naturally Nordland, as a series, was going to garner plenty of attention. Unfortunately, the bad news about it is that by Nordland II, the novelty of Quorthon playing epic music again has totally worn off. The sheer mass of material recorded for Nordland I and II has resulted in overkill of something Quorthon was once quite good at. Frankly, this ain't no Hammerheart or Twilight of the Gods. At best, this is material that would rank as mediocre if one of his many followers had recorded it.

While technically there is nothing wrong with Nordland II, it just comes across as Quorthon trying to recapture a moment from his past, lacking the authenticity required. This unfortunately sounds like someone going through the motions without really embellishing the concepts behind the music with innovative ideas. Nordland, as a series, seems like Quorthon realized he was onto something in the early 90s, so he tried to duplicate that. However, this also means he isn't thinking, "What can I do to challenge myself as a musician?" Simply writing long songs with folkish qualities in the melodies does not immediately qualify an album as groundbreaking, exciting or good. Instead, Nordland II treads the same ground as the first in the series and bogs down with too many basic song ideas that lack impetus. At best, this is merely average material.

But on the plus side, Nordland II isn't Octagon or Requiem and for that we probably should be incredibly thankful.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/2003

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