"Blood Fire Death"
Bathory - "Blood Fire Death"
“Blood Fire Death” is definitely my favorite Bathory LP and also one of my favorite metal albums of all time.
Lead vocalist Quorthon managed to compose and record several amazing LPs. But if one would ask me which LP of his I like most, then it would be “Blood Fire Death”.
An amazing originator of what we know nowadays as; "black metal", “Blood Fire Death” is one of the most influential and significant metal albums of all times.
Not only is that due to the music it contains, but also because this LP started something everybody knows today as “Viking metal”.
“Viking metal” is basically any sort of metal music with lyrics about Viking myths and other Nordic stuff.
Prior to this album Bathory was dealing with satanic and other typically dark matters, but with “Blood Fire Death” Quorthon changed some of his lyrics creating something totally new to the scene.
No other band had made an entire album exploring the Vikings theme so much.
And the future Bathory records continued in this vein and single-handedly created a new sub-genre of metal.
I can only honor and admire Quorthon’s impact on the evolution of the metal scene. His early works have been a great influence on Norwegian black metal and then he created and influenced another group of bands – mainly Scandinavian – with something different once more. What a creative person he was.
Amon Amarth, Unleashed, and all the prominent Viking Metal bands of today mention Bathory's "Blood Fire Death" as an important influence.
Anyway, “Blood Fire Death”, released back in 1988, is the fourth album of Quorthon and the boys, and if you listen to all three previous records it will be certain that none of them sounds like its predecessor.
Each album intentionally brings something different to the sound and style of the band.
Starting with their 'Venom-esque' self-titled debut, then going through the more darker and utterly evil; “The Return…” and finishing off with the wonderfully catchy, but epic, dark and evil and way better composed; “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” – each LP is different.
But “Blood Fire Death” is something uniquely daring. Once more Quorthon and his band turned in a different direction than anybody would expect.
On the one hand the album has a handful of savage and fast thrash metal songs, then on the other there are some monumental, more melodic and almost beautiful songs.
These latter songs take the epic side of the previous LP into another dimension.
I guess my - and everybody else’s – favorite songs from “Blood Fire Death” would be the title track and “A Fine Day to Die".
The latter song – opens with a three minute long introduction called “Odens Ride Over Nordland”. Then one of the finest nine minutes of music in all of metal, definitely the best nine minutes which Quorthon has ever composed, begins.
This song is just perfect, the riffs are just amazing, so are the vocals. I just love the way the whole song builds, and how it develops. It creates tension, keeping the listener with mouth open in amazement.
Would anyone expect Bathory to open the album with acoustic guitar and clean vocals, creating a rather peaceful aura? No, and maybe that's why they did.
“A Fine Way to Die” is both thrilling and memorable! With lyrics about the warriors going into battle it feels almost like a fantastic movie soundtrack…just close your eyes and you can see the men, standing in the battlefield, roaring and holding swords, axes or spears, ready to fight or die.
“Along the black mountainside, scattered
by the campfires awaiting the dawn.
Two times a hundred men in battles.
Tried by the steel in the arrow, axe and sword.”
Another epic and impressive song is the title track, coming in at over ten minutes, it finishes the album in a very similar vein to the way the album opens, and you get a strong feeling at the ending, of "completeness".
The riffs on this entire LP are just excellent. Short acoustic themes are quickly followed by thunderous drumming and heavy dark riffs. Some songs are accompanied by thematic keyboards, and there is plenty of variation going on during the songs.
The song structure is often simple, but effective and unique as hell. All the songs are written and composed by Quorthon (aka, Tomas Forsberg r.i.p.).
I always get shivers when I listen to this disc. The vocals of Quorthon are just excellent! They’re way cleaner and more melodic than his usual harsh, raw voice and more understandable. This became something he would continue to do on the future Bathory albums.
This is an album where you can just close your eyes and see all that Nordic stuff…so clearly, it is really awesome!
"For All Those Who Died", “The Golden Walls of Heaven”, "Pace 'Till Death" and “Holocaust” – if we speak of just side A of the vinyl - are all excellent songs.
“Holocaust” is just insane, barbaric and it definitely is the fastest song.
But of course most of the fans of hardcore metal remember Bathory mainly for the epic, visually stunning music that “Blood Fire Death” delivers.
You have to have this LP in your collection if you love hardcore, black metal or viking metal.
Hell, build an altar for it if you haven’t got a whole Bathory chapel in your basement already!
Standout tracks: “A Fine Day to Die”, “Blood Fire Death”, "For All Those Who Died", “Dies Irae”.
A masterpiece of the Black Metal, Viking Metal genre.
- Marcin Olczak