Bathory (band)

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Quorthon breathing fire live.jpg
Quorthon in May 1987 [1]
Background information
Origin Vällingby, Sweden
Years active1983–2004
Labels Black Mark, Noise
Past members
  • Quorthon
  • Frederick Melander (Freddan/Hanoi)
  • Jonas Åkerlund
  • Ribban
  • Stefan Larsson
  • Adde
  • Paul Pålle Lundburg
  • Kothaar
  • Vvornth

Bathory [3] were an extreme metal group formed in Vällingby, Sweden, in 1983 named after Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory. The band's frontman and main songwriter was Quorthon (Tomas Forsberg). Considered to be one of the most influential acts in heavy metal, Bathory's first four albums are considered to be "the blueprint for Scandinavian black metal". [4] The band departed from this style on their fifth album, Hammerheart (1990), which is often cited as the first Viking metal album. [5] Bathory continued in the Viking metal style throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, although the band experimented with thrash metal on the albums Requiem (1994) and Octagon (1995). Bathory ended when Quorthon died from heart failure in 2004.

Extreme metal is a loosely defined umbrella term for a number of related heavy metal music subgenres that have developed since the early 1980s. It has been defined as a "cluster of metal subgenres characterized by sonic, verbal and visual transgression".

Vällingby urban district in Stockholm, Sweden

Vällingby is a suburban district in Västerort in the western part of Stockholm Municipality, Sweden.

Elizabeth Báthory Hungarian countess known for being a serial killer

Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed was a Hungarian noblewoman and reputed serial killer from the noble family of Báthory, who owned land in the Kingdom of Hungary. She has been labeled by Guinness World Records as the most prolific female murderer, though the precise number of her victims is debated. Báthory and four collaborators were accused of torturing and killing hundreds of young women between 1585 and 1609. The highest number of victims cited during Báthory's trial was 650. However, this number comes from the claim by a serving girl named Susannah that Jakab Szilvássy, Countess Báthory's court official, had seen the figure in one of Báthory's private books. The book was never revealed, and Szilvássy never mentioned it in his testimony. Despite the evidence against Elizabeth, her family's importance kept her from facing execution. She was imprisoned in December 1610 within Čachtice Castle, in Upper Hungary, and held in solitary confinement in a windowless room until her death four years later.



Early years (1980s)

Bathory formed in Vällingby in 1983. Quorthon (then known as Ace, after Ace Frehley of Kiss), a 17-year-old guitarist, was joined by bass guitarist Frederick Melander and drummer Jonas Åkerlund. According to Quorthon, he settled on the name 'Bathory' after a visit to the London Dungeon, although Jonas says that it was taken from the Venom song "Countess Bathory". [6] Before settling on 'Bathory', the band considered several names; including Nosferatu, Natas, Mephisto, Elizabeth Bathory and Countess Bathory. [7] Quorthon worked part-time at the small record label Tyfon, which was owned by his father, Börje Forsberg. [6] In late 1983, the label was putting together a compilation of songs by Scandinavian metal bands. [8] However, at the last minute, one of the bands backed out. Tyfon agreed to let Bathory appear on the record as a replacement. The album, called Scandinavian Metal Attack , was released in March 1984 and was Bathory's first appearance on record. [9] Unexpectedly, the Bathory tracks drew a great deal of fan mail. [10] Soon afterward, Tyfon asked Quorthon to record a full-length album. [9] His bandmates having moved away, Quorthon recruited Rickard Bergman as bassist and Stefan Larsson as drummer. On 22 May 1984, they had their first and only rehearsal together before recording the album. [9] The debut album, Bathory , was recorded in June at Heavenshore Studio (a converted garage) in Stockholm [9] and released in October that year. Over the next four years, Bathory released a further three albums: The Return…… (1985), Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987) and Blood Fire Death (1988).

Quorthon Swedish musician

Thomas Börje Forsberg, better known by the stage name Quorthon, was a Swedish singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. He was one of the founders, as well as the sole songwriter, of the band Bathory, which pioneered the black metal genre and is credited with creating the Viking metal style. A multi-instrumentalist, Quorthon wrote the music and lyrics on all of Bathory's albums and performed vocals and guitars.

Ace Frehley American musician best known as the former lead guitarist and founding member of the rock band Kiss

Paul Daniel "Ace" Frehley is an American musician and songwriter best known as the original lead guitarist, occasional lead vocalist and co-founding member of the rock band Kiss. He invented the persona of The Spaceman and played with the group from its inception in 1973 until his departure in 1982. After leaving Kiss, Frehley embarked on a solo career, which was put on hold when he rejoined Kiss in 1996 for a highly successful reunion tour.

Kiss (band) American band

Kiss is an American rock band formed in New York City in January 1973 by Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss, and Ace Frehley. Well known for its members' face paint and stage outfits, the group rose to prominence in the mid-to-late 1970s with their elaborate live performances, which featured fire breathing, blood-spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits, and pyrotechnics. The band has gone through several lineup changes, with Stanley and Simmons the only remaining original members. The original and best-known lineup consisted of Stanley, Simmons, Frehley, and Criss.

Bathory's early work was dark, fast, heavily distorted and raw recording (lo-fi). Quorthon's vocals were harsh, high-pitched and raspy with occasional shrieks and screams. The band's lyrics focused on 'dark' topics and included anti-Christian and 'Satanic' references. [11] These traits came to define black metal [7] and the band used this style on their first four albums. Quorthon said that the band were not Satanists but used 'Satanic' references to provoke and attack Christianity. With the third and fourth albums he began "attacking Christianity from a different angle", realizing that Satanism is a "Christian product" and seeing them both as "religious hocus-pocus". [11] The term 'black metal' came from Venom's 1982 album of that name. Many fans and reviewers have claimed Venom was an influence on Bathory, [12] or even accused Bathory of copying Venom; [13] [14] however, Quorthon said that the band's early work was influenced primarily by Black Sabbath, Motörhead and GBH, and that he "heard Venom for the first time in late 1984 or early 1985" and never owned a Venom album. [14] Bathory's early sound also have always been associated with Slayer but Quorthon denied being influenced by them. [15]

Lo-fi music music aesthetic

Lo-fi is a music or production quality in which elements usually regarded as imperfections of a recording or performance are audible, sometimes as a deliberate aesthetic choice. The standards of sound quality (fidelity) and music production have evolved throughout the decades, meaning that some older examples of lo-fi may not have been originally recognized as such. Lo-fi began to be recognized as a style of popular music in the 1990s, when it became alternately referred to as DIY music.

Death growl voice type

A death growl is a vocal style usually employed by death metal singers but also used in other heavy metal styles, such as metalcore. Death growls are sometimes criticized for their "ugliness". However, the harshness of death growls is in keeping with death metal's abrasive music style and often dark and obscene subject matter. The progressively more forceful enunciation of metal vocals has been noted from heavy metal to thrash metal to death metal.

Satanism group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan

Satanism is a group of ideological and philosophical beliefs based on Satan. Contemporary religious practice of Satanism began with the founding of the Church of Satan in 1966, although a few historical precedents exist. Prior to the public practice, Satanism existed primarily as an accusation by various Christian groups toward perceived ideological opponents, rather than a self-identity. Satanism, and the concept of Satan, has also been used by artists and entertainers for symbolic expression.

Bathory stopped performing live in 1985, with Quorthon viewing organizing concerts as too much hassle. [7]

Although Bathory's fourth album, Blood Fire Death (1988), largely followed in the style of the albums before it, some songs had a very different style. These songs have a much slower tempo, acoustic passages, choral background singing, and lyrics about Vikings and Norse mythology. Music critic Eduardo Rivadavia of AllMusic describes this 'epic' style as "possibly the first true example" of Viking metal. [16]

Vikings Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates

Vikings were Norse seafarers, mainly speaking the Old Norse language, who, from the late 8th to late 11th centuries, raided and traded from their Northern European homelands across wide areas of Europe, and explored westwards to Iceland, Greenland, and Vinland. The term is also commonly extended in modern English and other vernaculars to the inhabitants of Norse home communities during what has become known as the Viking Age. This period of Nordic military, mercantile and demographic expansion constitutes an important element in the early medieval history of Scandinavia, Estonia, the British Isles, France, Kievan Rus' and Sicily.

Norse mythology body of mythology of the North Germanic people stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period

Norse mythology is the body of myths of the North Germanic peoples, stemming from Norse paganism and continuing after the Christianization of Scandinavia, and into the Scandinavian folklore of the modern period. The northernmost extension of Germanic mythology, Norse mythology consists of tales of various deities, beings, and heroes derived from numerous sources from both before and after the pagan period, including medieval manuscripts, archaeological representations, and folk tradition.

AllMusic Online music database

AllMusic is an online music database. It catalogs more than 3 million album entries and 30 million tracks, as well as information on musical artists and bands. It launched in 1991, predating the World Wide Web.

Viking metal years (1990s–2000s)

After Blood Fire Death, the band shed its early black metal style. Their fifth album, Hammerheart (1990), was the first "archetypical Viking metal album". [17] This was said to have been influenced by the American power metal band Manowar, although Quorthon described this rumour as "another total misconception". [15] A music video was made for the song "One Rode to Asa Bay". The style of Hammerheart was continued on Twilight of the Gods (1991) and Blood on Ice (recorded in 1989 but completed in 1996).

<i>Hammerheart</i> 1990 studio album by Bathory

Hammerheart is the fifth studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It continued the previous album Blood Fire Death's transition away from black metal to what became recognized as Viking metal, and is considered a cornerstone work of the genre.

Power metal is a subgenre of heavy metal combining characteristics of traditional heavy metal with speed metal, often within symphonic context. Generally, power metal is characterized by a faster, lighter, and more uplifting sound, in contrast with the heaviness and dissonance prevalent for example in extreme metal. Power metal bands usually have anthem-like songs with fantasy-based subject matter and strong choruses, thus creating a theatrical, dramatic and emotionally "powerful" sound. The term was first used in the middle of the 1980s and refers to two different but related styles: the first pioneered and largely practiced in North America with a harder sound similar to speed metal, and a later more widespread and popular style based in Europe, South America and Japan, with a lighter, more melodic sound and frequent use of keyboards.

Manowar American heavy metal band

Manowar is an American heavy metal band from Auburn, New York. Formed in 1980, the group is known for lyrics based on fantasy and mythology. The band is also known for a loud and bombastic sound. In an interview for MTV in February 2007, bassist Joey DeMaio lamented that "these days, there's a real lack of big, epic metal that is drenched with crushing guitars and choirs and orchestras... so it's nice to be one of the few bands that's actually doing that". In 1984 the band was included in the Guinness Book of World Records for delivering the loudest performance, a record which they have since broken on two occasions. They also hold the world record for the longest heavy metal concert after playing for five hours and 1 minute in Bulgaria in 2008. They also have been known for their slogan "Death to false metal". Although the band has never been a mainstream commercial success in the United States, they maintain a strong cult following.

With Requiem (1994) and Octagon (1995), Bathory changed style once more, this time turning to retro-thrash in the vein of 1980s Bay Area thrash bands. However, the 2001 release Destroyer of Worlds was a transitional release that led to a full return to the Viking metal style with the releases of Nordland I (2002) and Nordland II (2003).

Quorthon's death

In June 2004, Quorthon was found dead in his home, apparently due to heart failure. [7] He was known to suffer from heart problems in the past. On 3 June 2006, Black Mark Records released a box set in tribute to Quorthon, containing three CDs of his favorite Bathory and Quorthon songs, a 176-page booklet, a DVD with his long-form video for "One Rode to Asa Bay", an interview and some rare promo footage and a poster.

Several Bathory tribute albums have been compiled by black metal artists, such as In Conspiracy with Satan - A Tribute to Bathory and Voices from Valhalla – A Tribute to Bathory. In August 2004, several members of the Norwegian black metal scene gathered to perform Bathory songs in a set titled A Tribute to Quorthon at the Hole in the Sky Festival in Bergen, Norway. These musicians included Abbath (Immortal), Apollyon (Aura Noir), Faust and Samoth (Emperor and Zyklon), Gaahl (Gorgoroth), Grutle Kjellson and Ivar Bjørnson (Enslaved), Nocturno Culto (Darkthrone) and Satyr (Satyricon). [18]

The Swedish band Watain played a live tribute to Quorthon and the band Bathory at the Sweden Rock Festival 2010. The resulting recording was the limited-edition album Tonight We Raise Our Cups and Toast in Angels Blood: A Tribute to Bathory with 7 tracks, and was released on February 23, 2015. It was also released as 12" album, the latter in 1300 numbered copies with four tracks, "A Fine Day to Die" (10:48), "The Return of Darkness and Evil" (4:36), "Rite of Darkness" (2:19) and "Reaper" (2:46) on Side A and three tracks "Enter the Eternal Fire" (7:14), "Sacrifice" (4:06) and "Born for Burning" (7:11) on Side B.

The release proved very popular with Swedish public, with the limited vinyl edition reaching number 1 on the vinyl chart. The album made it also to number 2 on the national Sverigetopplistan chart, the official Swedish Albums Chart in February 2015. [19]

Band members

Final lineup
Previous members
Bathory (band)


Studio albums

Compilation albums

Related Research Articles

Black metal is an extreme subgenre of heavy metal music. Common traits include fast tempos, a shrieking vocal style, heavily distorted guitars played with tremolo picking, raw (lo-fi) recording, unconventional song structures, and an emphasis on atmosphere. Artists often appear in corpse paint and adopt pseudonyms.

Viking metal is a style of heavy metal music characterized by a lyrical and thematic focus on Norse mythology, Norse paganism, and the Viking Age. Viking metal is quite diverse as a musical style, to the point where some consider it more a cross-genre term than a genre, but it is typically seen as black metal with influences from Nordic folk music. Common traits include a slow-paced and heavy riffing style, anthemic choruses, use of both sung and harsh vocals, a reliance on folk instrumentation, and often the use of keyboards for atmospheric effect.

<i>Black Metal</i> (Venom album) 1982 studio album by Venom

Black Metal is the second album by English heavy metal band Venom. It was released in November 1982, during the great flourishing of metal music in the UK that was the new wave of British heavy metal, and is considered a major influence on the thrash metal, death metal and black metal scenes that emerged in the 1980s and early 1990s.

<i>Blood on Ice</i> 1996 studio album by Bathory

Blood on Ice is the ninth studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released on 27 May 1996, through Black Mark Production. It is a concept album.

<i>Under the Sign of the Black Mark</i> 1987 studio album by Bathory

Under the Sign of the Black Mark is the third studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was recorded in September 1986 and released on 11 May 1987 through New Renaissance Records and Under One Flag. It was a key album in the development of the black metal genre, and greatly influenced the Norwegian black metal scene that emerged in the early 1990s.

<i>The Return……</i> 1985 studio album by Bathory

The Return…… is the second studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released on vinyl on 27 May 1985, through Combat Records in the US. The Return…… had a significant influence on the then-emerging death metal and black metal genres.

<i>Bathory</i> (album) 1984 studio album by Bathory

Bathory is the debut studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released in October 1984, through Tyfon Grammofon. It is deemed by many fans and critics to be the first black metal record.

<i>Blood Fire Death</i> 1988 studio album by Bathory

Blood Fire Death is the fourth studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released on 8 October 1988, through Music for Nations sublabel, Under One Flag. The album, although mostly black metal, includes some of the first examples of Viking metal. According to the book Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult by Dayal Patterson, Blood Fire Death began a second trilogy, an era Quorthon described as the "pre-Christian Swedish Viking Era".

Merciless Swedish metal band

Merciless is a Swedish extreme metal band. The band was formed during the summer of 1986 in Strängnäs, Sweden by Erik Wallin (guitar), Fredrik Karlén and Stefan Carlsson (drums). They were inspired by the early fast-playing bands such as Kreator, Sodom, Destruction and Bathory. First they did some local gigs as "Obsessed" and "Black Mass" but changed their name to Merciless in early 1987. A demo was recorded titled Behind the Black Door, which led to the replacement of Kåle by Rogga in early 1988. With this line-up they recorded a second demo Realm of the Dark in June 1988. This demo drew the attention of Deathlike Silence Productions - the label of Euronymous. That label released their debut album The Awakening in March 1990.

Nifelheim band

Nifelheim is a Swedish black metal band. The band was formed in 1990 by the twin brothers Erik and Per Gustavsson, under the stage names Tyrant and Hellbutcher and is known for their "old school" style of black metal.

<i>Twilight of the Gods</i> (album) 1991 studio album by Bathory

Twilight of the Gods is the sixth studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It continues the exploration of the newly created Viking metal style, and also displays heavy epic doom and classical influences; it is titled after an opera by Wagner. It is a mid-tempo, more acoustic album than previous Bathory releases, though it follows on from the Hammerheart album. Of significance is Quorthon's total control of the album, playing all electric and acoustic guitar, keyboards, bass, and drum programming. The background vocals are a particular feature of this album, with Quorthon multi-tracking himself, as he did on the Hammerheart album, though this time in a more sophisticated way, sounding like a whole chorus at times. The song entitled Hammerheart is based on a melody from Gustav Holst's The Planets. Specifically, it is Quorthon's own "rearrangement" of the middle section of the fourth movement, Jupiter.

<i>Nordland I</i> 2002 studio album by Bathory

Nordland I is the eleventh studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released on 18 November 2002 through Black Mark Production. It is a return to the Viking metal of Bathory's middle period, and features songs mainly concerning Norse mythology.

<i>Nordland II</i> 2003 studio album by Bathory

Nordland II is the twelfth and final studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It is the successor to Nordland I. It was released on 31 March 2003, through Black Mark Production.

<i>Destroyer of Worlds</i> 2001 studio album by Bathory

Destroyer of Worlds is the tenth studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released on 9 October 2001, through Black Mark Production.

<i>Requiem</i> (Bathory album) 1994 studio album by Bathory

Requiem is the seventh studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It eschews the Viking metal style of Bathory's three previous releases for a thrash metal style that recalls many of the bands that initially influenced Bathory. This album marks the return of Bathory after Quorthon put the band on hold to record his first solo album.

<i>Octagon</i> (Bathory album) 1995 studio album by Bathory

Octagon is the eighth studio album by Swedish extreme metal band Bathory. It was released in October 1995, through Black Mark Production. It continues the retro thrash metal style of the previous album, Requiem. It was reissued in 2003, with the first two tracks combined and "Winds of Mayhem" outro added.

Black Mark Production record label

Black Mark Production is an independent record label originally based in Berlin, later on with offices in Stockholm, Toronto and New York City etc. Black Mark Productions today is a worldwide operating business placed in Villa Hammerheart, Bruzaholm, Sweden, that specializes in extreme metal releases, perhaps best known for its close connection to Quorthon, leader of the defining black metal band Bathory until his death in 2004. As Quorthon himself has stated several times, it was often speculated that he had something to do with the business and operation of Black Mark Productions, except for the concept and name of the label, which would be referenced in the title of the 1987 release Under the Sign of the Black Mark. Quorthon received permission from the Tyfon Grammofon label - which was owned by Börje "Boss" Forsberg and featured Bathory - to use his own proxy-label on all Bathory albums, along with a unique 666-X serial number, starting with the self-titled debut album from 1984, but the label wasn't founded as a separate entity before 1991. Who did found it remains disputed, but many point to Boss Forsberg.

<i>In Memory of Quorthon</i> 2006 box set by Bathory

In Memory of Quorthon is a box set of three audio CDs and one DVD with remastered material from Bathory, Quorthon's solo efforts, and the Jennie Tebler project.


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  2. "Essential Black Metal Listening: BATHORY Under the Sign of the Black Mark". 27 February 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2018.
  3. Nelson, Dan (2008). All Known Metal Bands. McSweeney's. ISBN   978-1-932416-92-3. Bathory
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  6. 1 2 Johannesson & Klingberg 2011, pp. 52–62.
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  9. 1 2 3 4 Ekeroth 2008, p. 30.
  10. McManus, Peter (1987). "Stranger than Strange – Quorthon Uncloacks His Secrets in an Exclusive Interview..." Power Metal. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  11. 1 2 "Writing the deeds of Darkness and Evil". Official Bathory website. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
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  13. Götz Kühnemund: »Heavy Metal ist was für Weicheier!«. Die erste Generation des Black Metal. In: Rock Hard, no. 269, October 2009, p. 72.
  14. 1 2 Luxi Lahtinen: BATHORY – An Epic Interview with Quorthon, accessed on 28 December 2012.
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  17. Rivadavia, Eduardo. "Hammerheart – Bathory : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards : AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 8 September 2012.
  18. "Norway's Black Metal Elite To Pay Tribute To Quorthon". Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  19. "WATAIN Hit National Chart In Sweden With Tonight We Raise Our Cups And Toast In Angels Blood Limited LP". Retrieved 1 October 2018.


  1. 1 2 Names "Kothaar" and "Vvornth" were adopted by the different people who were playing bass guitar and drums for the Bathory at the time. No official member names were released during the period.