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Blood Fire Death

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Album Review

Possibly the first true example of what is commonly called Viking metal, 1988's Blood Fire Death inaugurated an incredibly prolific period in Bathory's history — so prolific and creative, in fact, that an entire album's worth of material recorded at this time would be shelved for years before eventually finding room for release as 1996's Blood on Ice. Featuring dramatic orchestral arrangements backing horrific banshee cries and galloping battalions of doom and destruction, "Oden's Ride Over Nordland" was as powerful an instrumental mood setter as has ever introduced a heavy metal album. It also boasted something never before heard on a Bathory LP: high audio fidelity, for Blood Fire Death was indeed the group's first to qualify as a professional-sounding recording. The second shock arrived when Quorthon employed a clean singing style (as opposed to his previously preeminent death croak) on the remarkable epic "A Fine Day to Die," whose complex arrangements and wide-ranging use of melody are also far more daring and adventurous than all his previous works. And what may have seemed accidental with the previous year's exceptional Under the Sign of the Black Mark was unquestionably confirmed here: This was the sound of modern black metal taking shape before fans' very eyes. Unfortunately, the album's jaw-dropping initial offensive isn't always maintained throughout, with simplistic thrashers like "For All Those Who Died" and "Holocaust" harking back to the band's crude early days, but failing to deliver with quite as much power and conviction. On the other hand, outstanding songs like the aforementioned "Fine Day to Die," the deliriously heavy "The Golden Walls of Heaven," the multi-paced "Dies Irae," and, most notably, the lengthy title track (containing acoustic guitars and the whole kitchen sink) certainly qualify among the best things Bathory had ever recorded thus far. Simply put, Blood Fire Death's lasting legacy of influence cannot be underestimated, and its courageous experiments set the stage for what many consider Bathory's finest hour, the magnificent Hammerheart.

Customer Reviews

A Classic Black Metal Album- for fans and fresh ears alike!

To be honest, this was the first black metal album I ever bought- and it blew me away. I had tried some Bodom, even a little bit of old school In Flames, but never anything like this, so its safe to say that coming into this musical experience, I was hardly a black metal fan...but enough of me- onto the album. The excellent mood setting intro "Oden Ride Over Nordland" quietly shifts into the soft beginning of "A Fine Day To Die," but don't let the melodic intro fool you- once the first hellish note comes in, you will remain captivated for the rest of the album. Words truly cannot express the perfection of this song- so many amazing riffs, such a great vocal performance by Quorthon....I'm telling you it's musical heaven. I believe that that first track alone would make this a great album, but believe me, every track is high quality black metal. The next three songs move along at a breakneck pace (honestly, if you don't keep your head under control, you might literally break your neck)- the pace is finally "slowed down" on "For All Those Who Died," a standout track with lyrics dealing with witchhunts. After another speed fix ("Dies Irae") Quorthon hits us with the title track, which, like the first song, is an epic black metal masterpiece. This song contains the most "melodic" vocals ever used by Quorthon, sounding almost like his RELATIVELY clean vocals used in the next album. Being an old school black metal album, the sound quality is far from perfect, but in my opinion, and most likely the opinion of 99% of black metal listeners, this only adds to the chaotic atmosphere created by the music. To this day, "A Fine Day To Die" is amongst my favorite songs, and Blood Fire Death amongst my favorite albums. This album is definitely not for everyone, but if you're an open minded metalhead who wants to see what black metal is all about, give Blood Fire Death a listen or two. If you are a fan of wild, chaotic, atmospheric music (hmmmm sounds a bit like black metal), then you will adore this album. Certainly a black metal classic, possibly a metal classic....


I like this album a lot, and it really is the turning point for the beginnings of Viking Metal as well. My favorite track is "A Fine Day to Die," one of the best intros to any song i've ever heard. If you just want one track to start with, get that one first. This album will be at the top of my list for a long time.

Favorite Album

THis was the first album i have ever bought from Bathory. Holocaust and Dies Irae are my favorite songs.


Formed: 1983 in Sweden

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

In a musical realm where scale of influence has little to do with commercial success, few originators of the extreme metal arts evoke as deep a sense of mystery, or incite such hushed, reverential tones of admiration, as Sweden's Bathory. Essentially a one-man operation helmed by the mysterious Quorthon, Bathory's development from the rawest form of embryonic black metal, to thrash, death, and back to its self-devised Viking-themed black metal, has mirrored and regularly defined the genre's very...
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Blood Fire Death, Bathory
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