Bathory was formed in Stockholm in 1983. Founder Quorthon, a seventeen-year-old guitarist, was joined by bassist Hanoi and drummer Vans. After various name changes (beginning with Nosferatu, then Natas, Mephisto, Elizabeth Bathory and Countess Bathory) they finally settled on Bathory. Their first recording deal came that same year, when Quorthon managed to secure the consent of Tyfon Grammofon's boss to record two tracks for the compilation Scandinavian Metal Attack. The tracks which he recorded gained unexpected attention by fans. Soon afterward, Tyfon Grammofon contacted Quorthon and asked him to record a full-length album.

Although Music/{{Venom}}'s ''Black Metal'', released in 1982, was the first record to coin the term, it was Bathory's early albums, featuring Satanic lyrics, low-fi production and an inhuman vocal style, that defined the genre. Many fans have speculated Venom was an influence on Bathory; however, Quorthon has said in an interview with Kick Ass magazine in 1985 he only heard of Venom after the first, [[SelfTitledAlbum self-titled]] Bathory album was released. He also expressed dislike for many influential and popular heavy metal bands at the time, such as Music/IronMaiden and Music/JudasPriest. He has also stated the band's early work was influenced primarily by Music/BlackSabbath, Music/{{Motorhead}}, and punk rock.

Bathory's self-titled debut album, and the subsequent releases ''The Return'' and ''Under the Sign of the Black Mark'' are now regarded as major influences on the Norwegian bands which extended black metal's musical progression and popularity in the beginning of the 1990s.

The first signs of what was to follow appeared on what many fans consider to be Bathory's best album, ''Blood Fire Death'', on which some of the tracks the pace had slowed down to allow for a more epic songwriting approach, said to be an influence on, or initiation of, the extreme metal sub-genre viking metal. The Viking theme was also first introduced on this album. However, most of the musical elements of black metal were still present.

With the release of ''Hammerheart'' Bathory had changed style towards less aggressive, more epic and atmospheric music; the lyrics dealt with themes about Vikings and Norse mythology. Partially influenced by the American power metal band Music/{{Manowar}}, ''Hammerheart'' was a landmark album that "formally introduced" to the metal world the "archetypical Viking metal album." The style of ''Hammerheart'' was further demonstrated on the subsequent ''Twilight of the Gods'' and ''Blood on Ice'' (the latter of which was mostly recorded before ''Hammerheart'' in 1989, but not finished or released until 1996 because Quorthon thought it would be too radical a departure from his previous work for fans to process).

With ''Requiem'', released in 1994, Bathory changed style once more, this time turning to retro-thrash in the vein of 1980s [[ThrashMetal Bay Area thrash]] bands. In recent years, many critics have seen Bathory's output as increasingly erratic, as the band returned again to Viking themes and, with the ''Nordland'' albums of 2002 and 2003, largely abandoned the retro-thrash sound of the mid-1990s in favour of the more popular, more epic style for which they are best known.

In June 2004, Quorthon was found dead in his home, apparently due to heart failure. He was known to suffer from heart problems in the past. On June 3, 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.

!!Core discography
* ''[[SelfTitledAlbum Bathory]]'' (1984)
* ''The Return......'' (1985)
* ''Under the Sign of the Black Mark'' (1986)
* ''[[NewSoundAlbum Blood Fire Death]]'' (1988)
* ''Hammerheart'' (1990)
* ''Twilight of the Gods'' (1991)
* ''[[GenreShift Requiem]]'' (1994)
* ''Octagon'' (1995)
* ''[[GenreShift Blood on Ice]]'' (1996, but mostly recorded in 1989)
* ''Destroyer of Worlds'' (2001)
* ''Nordland I'' (2002)
* ''Nordland II'' (2003)

!!Bathory provides examples of:
* AlbumIntroTrack - Nearly every album
* AuthorExistenceFailure
* BloodBath: Not only does the band share a name with the TropeMaker, ElizabethBathory, but they've also penned a handful of songs that are specifically about their namesake as well as hint at this practice, especially the song "Woman Of Dark Desires."
* ChronologicalAlbumTitle: ''Octagon''
* ConceptAlbum: ''Blood on Ice''
* EmbarrassingFirstName: Ace Börje Forsberg was the name written on Quorthon's obituary, but his real birth name was Tomas. If someone asked him the real name he always gave invented ones: Runka Snorkråka (Wanked snot(hodded)crow), Pär Vers (a wordplay, means perverted), Fjärt Bengrot (Fart Bengrot), Folke Ostkuksgrissla, Fnoret.
* EpicRocking: Bathory's Viking Metal output is pretty much the definition of this trope (especially ''Hammerheart'' and ''Twilight of the Gods'').
* {{Gotterdammerung}}: the title track of ''Twilight of the Gods''. "One Rode to Asa Bay" can be seen as describing the beginnings of this for the Nordic faith.
* GrimUpNorth: The ''Blood on Ice'' album.
* HarshVocals: Mostly on his early BlackMetal albums- he pretty much invented the particular style of harsh vocals used in the genre.
* HeavyMithril: ''Blood on Ice''.
* HornyVikings: The Viking Metal works tend to blend this trope with ProudWarriorRace.
* IAmTheBand: Pretty much every album after the first one. On ''Hammerheart'', ''Twilight of the Gods'', ''Destroyer of Worlds'', and the ''Nordland'' albums, Quorthon is the only performer; on others he used session musicians.
* KeepCirculatingTheTapes: The video for ''One Rode to Asa Bay'' wasn't given an official home release until 2006.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: 9 to 10 for his Black metal, 7 to 8 for his viking metal, though his interludes on the Viking metal albums get as low as 1.
* NewSoundAlbum[=/=]GenreShift: Several of them. Examples:
** ''Blood Fire Death'' began establishing the viking metal sound that his later works would pioneer.
** ''Blood on Ice'' (recorded next, but not released until 1996) featured a full-fledged GenreShift to FolkMetal, with a lot of Music/{{Manowar}} influence thrown in.
** ''Hammerheart'' (recorded after ''Blood on Ice'', but the next album released after ''Blood Fire Death'') demonstrated a more epic sound than shown on any of Bathory's previous releases, and is generally seen as the TropeCodifier for viking metal.
** ''Requiem'' featured a GenreShift to ThrashMetal.
* TropeCodifier: Music/{{Venom}} may have named the genre of BlackMetal but it was Bathory that gave it its distinct sound and influenced all the Norwegian Bands to play Black Metal. Quorthon also pretty much ''invented'' the vocal style used on virtually every black metal recording made after that point.
* UrExample[=/=]TropeMaker: Of [[BlackMetal Viking Metal]].
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