Essential Black Metal Listening: BATHORYBlood Fire Death
Between 1984 and 2004, Bathory released 12 albums. This black metal thrash act has done much for music in those years of existence. From Stockholm, Sweden, Bathory was on the front lines as much of the extreme music being created in their day. They are an interesting blend of thrash and black metal, while later evolving to a more Viking metal. In particular, Blood Fire Death can be credited to perhaps the start of their more Viking metal evolution, where subsequent releases such as Hammerheart (1990), and Twilight of the Gods (1991) show a stronger prominence of Viking metal attributes.
With a pleasant amount of melodic elements, Blood Fire Death (1988) can be summed up as an excellent thrash act with black and Viking metal as influences. In the 1980's extreme metal was still blossoming, and Bathory presented a refreshing style that continues to be good music today.
With songs ranging from three minutes in length, to over 10 minutes, Blood Fire Death offers a variety of creativity. While some songs sound crunched for time, as if not given the appropriate time to develop, the longer songs seem drawn out at segments. This works for and against them. In their trashy style and upbeat, charged energy, great satisfaction can be found, but too often the mood shifts to a more melodic and emotional passage. Perhaps this is truly the beginning of the Viking metal creations, where between the black metal world and the yet to be discovered Viking metal world, Blood Fire Death is that rare missing link.
The leading charge that absorbs the listener from the start is the high powered guitar riffs that run circles around your mind. From catchy, fast solos, to melodic ventures that evoke that old thrash feel, you will not be disappointed. Acoustic and keyboard segments can also be spotted, presenting a more epic mood, and victorious feel than that of a more depressing and hopeless torture. The drumming follows the lead of the guitar, breaking into thrash sequences, and following the melodic route that includes the longer, sustained portions. This remains the highlight of this album, exhibited in the two mega songs, "A Fine Day To Die", and "Blood Fire Death".
The overall sound and mood is consistent and easy to get into. Besides the mixing of genres and tempos that come with the style changes, the album feels very cohesive. Even the cocktail of sub genres fit well in their particular mold of extreme metal. By the creation of Blood Fire Death, the band had an established sound and intention, so they were able to succeed in creating this truly unique album that will remain a classic in their discography.
To see Bathory evolve over the years and see how the amount and quality of their music had progressed, proves this album has a special place in their discography. It may not be their best album, but it's a key component in their music to help shape and define who the band was, and the direction it was going. For any Bathory fan, this album is a must have.