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Blood Fire Death - Bathory

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Speed Metal & Thrash / Artist: Bathory / Import / Audio CD released 2004-07-18 at Black Mark

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      17.02.2008 15:26
      Very helpful



      Bathory's fourth album (1988).

      'Blood Fire Death' is widely revered as a classic of Scandinavian metal, primarily for advancing Bathory's primordial black metal style towards more epic heights of concept and performance, but its popularity perhaps lies more in the greatly improved production values that allow Quorthon's blaring guitars to blow home stereos like the big-name American metal bands, the most sonically aggressive of which are provided some stern competition from this album's more violent offerings. On the other side of things, this is the first album that really started to focus on Quorthon's Viking metal, incorporating neofolk elements of acoustic guitar and choral vocals to successfully evoke a bygone age in all its glory, not merely confined to the stereotypical rape and pillage anthems and deity name-dropping of other band's fleeting flirtations with Norse mythology, however fantastic Manowar's early albums may be.

      In truth, there's a surprising and noticeable lack of this Viking metal on the bulk of this album despite the usual claims to the contrary, only manifesting in the epic opening and closing songs while the void in-between is occupied by Quorthon's more conventional violence, now with a greater emphasis on the thrash metal elements he would later base his most disappointing third career phase on in the mid-nineties, but possessing all the ferocious intensity of his early albums through the added benefit of a higher budget studio sound. It's sad to see the back of the raw and primitive sound that made early Bathory so convincingly evil and unwholesome to listen to, but after the peak of the third album it was a wise decision to move on, even if some of the songs here do sound an awful lot like re-worked versions of the very first album, 'The Golden Walls of Heaven' through to 'Holocaust' essentially being more or less the same loud, fast and angry song separated by brief pauses as the tracks change. 'Holocaust' is the peak of this style, thematically linked to 'Armageddon,' 'War' and 'Massacre' in Bathory's chronology and possessing all the power of Slayer at their most intense, deserving of recognition as an extreme metal classic even if it falls back on the usual Bathory repetition.

      The slower, longer songs are the most technically interesting and potentially alienating for old-time fans, but skilfully mix the band's first and second eras in a way that doesn't particularly favour either. Led in by the brilliant ambience of 'Odens Ride Over Nordland,' introducing the sampled horse whines and gallops that would soon come to be associated so prominently with Bathory and Viking metal in general, 'A Fine Day to Die' mixes tranquil acoustic sections with squealing solos and raw guitars, but the vocals are still predominantly barked; it's only in the titular 'Blood Fire Death' that Quorthon's now-familiar raw singing style is heard for the first time, beckoning in the classic 'Hammerheart.' This song shifts between calm acoustic and loud electric movements ceaselessly, and has a great galloping ending, though these two songs are quite noticeably overlong for their relatively limited content.

      However flawed and bipolar this album may be as a necessary bridge between opposing styles, it's an interesting step and is able to boast equal appeal to fans of later Bathory who are scared off by the earlier stuff, and likewise those who enjoy Quorthon's more aggressive side but aren't into the whole epic thing. Quorthon was on an incredible roll throughout the eighties that wouldn't end for some time yet, but it's interesting to see him getting a bit full of himself even this early on quoting Holst's 'Mars' at the start of track three, a few years before a creatively pompous take on 'Jupiter' acted as an effective epitaph for his golden age.

      1. Odens Ride Over Nordland
      2. A Fine Day to Die
      3. The Golden Walls of Heaven
      4. Pace 'till Death
      5. Holocaust
      6. For All Those Who Died
      7. Dies Irae
      8. Blood Fire Death
      9. De Merde


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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Odens Ride Over Nordland
    2 Golden Wall Of Heaven
    3 Pace 'til Death
    4 Dies Irae
    5 Fine Day To Die
    6 Holocaust
    7 For All Those Who Died
    8 Blood Fire Death

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