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Under The Sign Of The Black Mark - Bathory

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Genre: Hard Rock & Metal - Speed Metal & Thrash / Artist: Bathory / Audio CD released 2004-09-06 at Black Mark

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      17.02.2008 14:02
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      Bathory's third album (1987).

      The classic 'Under the Sign of the Black Mark' marks the end of Bathory's early black metal period before Quorthon became absorbed in Viking themes and pioneered a second genre. As the culmination of Bathory's sinister slant on traditional heavy metal stylings, this third album both improves upon the band's earlier successes and boasts greater variety, no longer unleashing a relentless series of repetitive, three-minute, sadistic outbursts one after the other, but still making time for these when appropriate (and how could they not be?)

      Every song here is up to the classic Bathory standard, excluding the brief, atmospheric intro and outro tracks recycled between each album of this early period, but some are more timeless than others. 'Massacre' starts the proceedings with a full-on, violent assault in the style of 'Armageddon' but with greater intensity, roaring through raw and fast guitar riffs and verses too fast for Quorthon's to articulately rasp his lyrics without really spitting them out. Rather than being repeated ad nauseam (it certainly has nauseating potential) for the rest of the album, the style is used sparingly between slower offerings, and only resurfaces in 'Chariots of Fire,' 'Of Doom...' and the blaring 'Equimanthorn,' also featuring a steadier chorus where Quorthon yells the title with increasing ferocity and a closing guitar solo section that squeals so loud it can be painful to listen to. Even for me, and I'm well 'ard when it comes to this sort of stuff.

      The other end of the scale is perhaps the more interesting side of the album, with the longer and slower 'Call from the Grave,' 'Enter the Eternal Fire' and '13 Candles,' all of which subtly introduce the elements that would come to be termed "Viking metal," despite popular claims that the subsequent 'Blood Fire Death' is the real start of this period. Keyboards and a steadily tolling bell are used for atmosphere in some of these songs, and a greater emphasis is placed on melodic and creative guitar riffs that nevertheless still possess the raw heaviness of the faster tracks.

      'Call from the Grave' is the most consistent with the established Bathory style, and it's only with the classic 'Enter the Eternal Fire' that the signs of change really start to ring; this song uses its seven minutes to the full, even when this merely means well-considered repetition of Quorthon's first immortal Viking riff, and the final minutes are handled with a cleaner guitar sound that starts to crawl out of the tomb that served these early efforts so well, but now threatens to become stale and is starting to pong a bit. With his future career now decided, Quorthon experiments with a more melodic singing style on the calmer '13 Candles,' with whispers and choral backing vocals that prove he can't sing, but that it never really mattered.

      Oh yes, I almost forgot. 'Woman of Dark Desires' is undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable sing-along anthems black metal would ever produce, with its simple and fun chorus, energetic guitar solo and Hammer horror organ accompaniment. It's not strictly black metal, but we can pretend, and it's certainly the most accessible song Quorthon would ever record in this otherwise dark and terrifying stage of his illustrious career. This really is a classic of nefarious albums.

      1. Nocturnal Obesiance
      2. Massacre
      3. Woman of Dark Desires
      4. Call from the Grave
      5. Equimanthorn
      6. Enter the Eternal Fire
      7. Chariots of Fire
      8. 13 Candles
      9. Of Doom...
      10. Outro

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  • Product Details

    Disc #1 Tracklisting
    1 Nocturnal Obeisance
    2 Massacre
    3 Woman Of Dark Desires
    4 Call From The Grave
    5 Equimanthorn
    6 Enter The Eternal Fire
    7 Chariots Of Fire
    8 Thirteen Candles
    9 Of Doom