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.
'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, self-titled
Bathory album was released. He also expressed dislike for many influential and popular heavy metal bands at the time, such as Iron Maiden
and Judas Priest
. He has also stated the band's early work was influenced primarily by Black Sabbath
, 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 Manowar
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).
, released in 1994, Bathory changed style once more, this time turning to retro-thrash in the vein of 1980s 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.
- Bathory (1984)
- The Return...... (1985)
- Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1986)
- Blood Fire Death (1988)
- Hammerheart (1990)
- Twilight of the Gods (1991)
- Requiem (1994)
- Octagon (1995)
- Blood on Ice (1996, but mostly recorded in 1989)
- Destroyer of Worlds (2001)
- Nordland I (2002)
- Nordland II (2003)
Bathory provides examples of:
- Album Intro Track - Nearly every album
- Author Existence Failure
- Blood Bath: Not only does the band share a name with the Trope Maker, Elizabeth Bathory, 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."
- Chronological Album Title: Octagon
- Concept Album: Blood on Ice
- Embarrassing First Name: 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.
- Epic Rocking: Bathory's Viking Metal output is pretty much the definition of this trope (especially Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods).
- Götterdämmerung: 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.
- Grim Up North: The Blood on Ice album.
- Harsh Vocals: Mostly on his early Black Metal albums- he pretty much invented the particular style of harsh vocals used in the genre.
- Heavy Mithril: Blood on Ice.
- Horny Vikings: The Viking Metal works tend to blend this trope with Proud Warrior Race.
- I Am the Band: 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.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: The video for One Rode to Asa Bay wasn't given an official home release until 2006.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 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.
- New Sound Album/Genre Shift: 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 Genre Shift to Folk Metal, with a lot of 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 Trope Codifier for viking metal.
- Requiem featured a Genre Shift to Thrash Metal.
- Trope Codifier: Venom may have named the genre of Black Metal 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.
- Ur Example/Trope Maker: Of Viking Metal.