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Music / Bathory

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"People of Asa land... it has only just begun!"
Tomas Börje Forsberg, AKA: "Quorthon", AKA: "Ace". Founder and sole member of Bathory, during most of its existence.

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 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, 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, Motörhead, 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 1990's.

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, 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 1980's 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-1990's 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, some rare promo footage, and a poster.

Core discography

  • 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: Most of their albums. "Odens Ride over Nordland" is one of the most famous.
  • Audio Adaptation:
    • The lyrics in the intro to "A Fine Day to Die" are taken from "Cassilda's Song" in The King in Yellow.
    • The lyrics to "For All Those Who Died" are taken from a poem by Erica Jong.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Many songs, including "A Fine Day to Die", "Blood Fire Death", and "Shores in Flames" are about this.
  • 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.
  • Cultured Badass: Quorthon's all-time favorite band and biggest inspiration was The Beatles. He even did a straight, unironic cover of "I'm Only Sleeping" under the Quorthon moniker; it was initially released on the Black Mark Tribute Vol. 2 compilation and again, posthumously, on In Memory of Quorthon.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Nearly every one of Bathory's early albums contains an almost identical outro track. The outro makes a return on Nordland II, perhaps as a Call-Back to the early albums.
  • Echoing Acoustics: Hammerheart and a few other albums have this style of production.
  • 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). "Enter the Eternal Fire" from Under the Sign of the Black Mark is also an example.
  • Every Episode Ending: All of their early albums have a nearly identical outro track called "The Winds of Mayhem."
  • Fading into the Next Song: "Odens Ride over Nordland" into "A Fine Day to Die."
    • A lot of them, really. Every Album Intro Track does this; there are also the first three songs on Twilight of the Gods, "The Rite of Darkness" into "Reap of Evil", "Song to Hall up High" into "Home of Once Brave", "Nordland" into "Vinterblot", "Ring of Gold" into "Foreverdark Woods", "Blooded Shore" into "Sea Wolf", etc.
  • Fighting for a Homeland: The 'viking' albums deal with this quite often.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous Latin: "Dies irae" means "Day of Wrath" in Latin; it's also named after a hymn.
  • 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.
  • Horrible History Metal: "Woman of Dark Desires" tells of the infamous historical exploits of Elizabeth Bathory. Overall, the band also has quite a few songs relating to unpleasant events in Scandinavian history.
  • 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.
  • Large Ham: Whenever Quorthon does clean vocals, he comes across this way. Not that anyone's complaining.
  • Miniscule Rocking: Shows up on a lot of Quorthon's earlier work, due to its quite notable punk rock influence.
  • Mood Whiplash: "A Fine Day to Die" starts with about a minute and a half of haunting, ethereal folk music before suddenly transitioning with a Metal Scream into the band's signature ravaging black metal.
  • Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: 9 to 10 for his Black metal (though a solid 11 at the time), 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.
  • Proud Warrior Race: Dealt with quite frequently in all of the 'viking' albums.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "BLOOD! FIRE! DEATH!"
  • Purple Prose: Quorthon's lyrics are generally very descriptive and detailed.
  • Rated M for Manly: His Viking material is absolutely this.
  • Rock Me, Amadeus!: "Hammerheart" (the song, not the album) is based on a melody from Gustav Holst's The Planets (specifically, "Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity").
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Virtually all songs on the first three albums. Their usage of this trope dropped off with time.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: "Obeisance", used in "Nocturnal Obeisance", is a fairly obscure word referring to demonstrations of an obedient attitude, particularly by bowing deeply, or to a bow that demonstrates such an attitude.
  • Shout-Out: "Home of Once Brave" uses the ending riff of Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" as its coda.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The reason "Necromancy" is spelt as "Necromansy" is that Quorthon had bought a set of rub-on letters in an Old English font for the back cover of the first album and was short a "c".
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "Song to Hall Up High", "Ring of Gold", "The Ravens", "Hammerheart", and probably several others.
  • 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.
  • Uncommon Time: The coda of "Home of Once Brave", like that of "For Whom the Bell Tolls", is in 10/4. Probably not the band's only example.
  • Ur-Example/Trope Maker: Of Viking Metal.
  • Viking Funeral: Mentioned in "Shores in Flames."
  • War God: Odin and Thor are portrayed this way in a lot of Quorthon's lyrics.
  • The Wild Hunt: Depicted on the cover of Blood Fire Death.


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