Last week we started the Throwback Thursday segment talking about the influence Swedish bands have had on heavy metal.  This week we’re going to dive back into the 1980’s and talk about one of the most important, if not the most important band to emerge from Sweden during that era: Bathory.

In 1984, Bathory released their self-titled debut. The sound of this album was like nothing any other band had released up to that point. It was thrashy, heavily distorted, and one of the most evil sounding recordings of the time. Along with the satanic imagery in the lyrics, vocalist and primary song writer, Quorthon, provided some of the most beautifully disturbing vocals ever recorded, consisting mainly of high pitched shrieks and grunts. In a sense, this album was the first true black metal album.

Quorthon continued this formula in the next three Bathory albums, “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” (1985), “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” (1987), and “Blood Fire Death” (1988). In 1990, he drastically changed the sound of Bathory for the album “Hammerheart”, which is credited as being the first viking metal album. Not only did their songs become slower, longer, and more epic, but the lyrical themes switched from the typical satanism to a more introspective look at Sweden’s viking past and ancient pagan religion.  A strong anti-Christian message was still present, but it was delivered in a more personal and sophisticated way.

Throughout the rest of their career Bathory experimented with more viking metal sounds as well as thrash metal.  Bathory is a band that will easily go down in history as one of the most influential practitioners of extreme metal.

The Circle Pit recommendations for curious parties:

Fans of black metal should check out “Bathory”, “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”, “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”, and “Blood Fire Death”.

Fans of viking metal should check out “Hammerheart”, “Twilight of the Gods”, “Nordland I & II”.

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