Bathory was a band that defined heavy metal scenes in the 1980s and bands like Venom and Hellhammer. Their first four efforts were often considered classic Venom worshiping albums until 1988’s Blood Fire Death, where they took on their sound and style. Q Magazine once named them ” the Scandinavian metal scene.” The band has sold over 1 million albums worldwide, which is more impressive when one realizes that they have never had a hit single or music video. Bathory’s frontman Quorthon died in 2004 at age 39 due to heart complications. Let us remember him in death by celebrating his life in his most significant musical accomplishments.
10. Father to Son (Hammerheart, 1990)
Bathory changed their sound and style with each album, and along with that, they also maintained a continuity of sounds throughout the albums, especially between Blood Fire Death and Hammerheart. The development of their sound was immediately noticeable on the former but not as much as it is with this release. Hammerheart stands out to be one of Bathory’s most distinctive works amongst many excellent albums. The song itself uses several musical ideas from previous songs like “Woman of Dark Desires” and even a slight nod to “Enter the Eternal Fire”; however, several things make this track great.
9. Shores in Flames (Hammerheart, 1990)
Shores in Flames is the epic conclusion to Bathory’s most accomplished and impressive album, Hammerheart. It uses several motifs and ideas from previous songs like “Home of Once Brave,” but all the themes are put together beautifully this time around. The lyrics also exemplify a positive message about Norse heritage and pride, often a recurring theme in Bathory’s work. The song itself is over 9 minutes long, but it doesn’t get boring until the end, where there are several repeats of the main riff.
8. Under the Runes (Twilight of the Gods, 1991)
Under the Runes is a song that depicts Quorthon’s disdain for Christianity. The lyrics are dark and tell how Christianity replaced the Norse pagan religion, which was precisely what it did in real life. Unlike many other songs on this list, Under the Runes does not have a guitar solo, so I feel like it doesn’t get enough appreciation for it, but don’t get me wrong, I love this song.
7. Twilight of the Gods (Twilight of the Gods, 1991)
Twilight of the Gods is a song with one of those riffs that never seem to get old. The structure and composition were also very memorable, where it makes use of slow verses with clean guitar and harmonizing classical guitars in the choruses. The lyrics tell how Odin and all the other Norse gods will return and end Christianity.
6. A Fine Day to Die (Blood Fire Death, 1988)
A Fine Day to Die is another of Bathory’s most distinguished songs. It tells how Ragnarok, the war at the end of time where the Vikings will fight against evil, will occur just like any other typical day. The song itself is very repetitive, where it mainly focuses on delivering its killer riff repeatedly. It is also one of Bathory’s more melodic songs, but it doesn’t make for a bad thing as the riffs and melodies are very good on their own.
5. Call from the Grave (Under the Sign of the Black Mark, 1987)
Call from the Grave is a song with one of those original Bathory riffs that were probably what got a lot of people interested in this band. The lyrics depict a spirit wandering between life and death, trying to find his way back into the land of the living after dying in an accident or battle. Call from the Grave features some great drumming from Jonas and a very catchy rhythm section throughout.
4. Enter the Eternal Fire (Under the Sign of the Black Mark, 1987)
Enter the Eternal Fire is a song that I feel is often overlooked by many Bathory fans. The lyrics tell about how Ragnarok will come and Odin, the leader of the Norse gods, will return to Earth to fight evil. It almost sounds like your typical power metal lyrics if it weren’t for mentioning Pagan lore in some parts. This is also one of Bathory’s more epic songs, where it features epic drum patterns throughout the song.
3. Sadist (The Return of the Darkness and Evil*, 1985)
Sadist is one of Bathory’s most intense songs. It features some awesome riffing that feels like it was inspired by Venom or Celtic Frost. The lyrics are about a sadomasochistic black magician who brings people back from the dead and then tortures them. This song is not for the faint of heart, but I love how it sounds and how it’s a return to Bathory’s early days, which a lot of fans wanted.
2. War (Bathory, 1984)
War is quite an epic song for Bathory as it is very long and goes through several musical changes. The lyrics tell about the Vikings raiding England, staying there, and eventually conquering most of Europe until they were beaten back by Charles Martel. This actual event happened in history. This one feels like it was inspired by a lot of Celtic Frost’s work, especially on To Mega Therion.
1. Equimanthorn (Under the Sign of the Black Mark, 1987)
Equimanthorn is a song that I feel is often overlooked as it was not featured on Under the Sign of the Black Mark, which was one of Bathory’s most popular albums. It tells about how Odin will return from Valhalla to lead all those slain in battle back to Earth for Ragnarok. The riffing throughout this song is Quorthon’s best work, and the solos are also great. The clean vocals in the choruses give off a very epic vibe to this song which makes it so awesome.
Bathory’s discography is genuinely impressive as every album that Quorthon made with this band sounds different from the previous. The riffing and drumming are some of Bathory’s best work, which makes you wonder if there will ever be another black metal band today that can reach their level of greatness. Going back to listen to Bathory is one of my favorite things to do, as it is so refreshing and different from anything I would typically listen to. The riffs are some of the rawest and catchy you can hear, making it easily accessible for black metal fans and those who want something a bit more “extreme.”