Friday, October 21, 2011

A Fine Day to Die

By now, I’m sure that anyone who cares is well aware that Bathory managed to lay down the blueprint for modern black metal in just four albums. To us here at The Evil Eye, Blood Fire Death is Quorthon’s finest hour. I don’t pretend to know what the general reaction was when this album was released in the late ‘80s, but it was quite a shock to my system if nothing else. “The Golden Walls of Heaven” was the only song from Blood Fire Death that I was previously familiar with, having heard it on Jubileum Volume II. As much of a great song as it is, it actually did little to prepare me for the monstrosity that is the rest of the album. “Odens Ride Over Nordland” hit the stereo speakers, transitioned into “A Fine Day to Die,” and I was scooped up by the Valkyries to take part in their Wild Hunt. By the time the breakdown kicked in on “Dies Irae,” I was more than sold on the idea that Bathory (and black metal in general) couldn’t get much better than this. Maybe it’s true that Blood Fire Death is the most accessible of Bathory’s crucial first four albums. However, that’s not to discount the brutality or the fact that this is Bathory at their peak. After this, Bathory changed their approach considerably. Lyrically, Quorthon left Satanism behind to explore Norse mythological themes. This also came through in the music, in which the vocals were cleaned up while the songs themselves became longer and less metal-influenced. I do enjoy those records from time to time, but ultimately I come back to Blood Fire Death when I need my Bathory fix. R.I.P. Tomas Forsberg.

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