|Classic Review: Bathory - Under the Sign of the Black Mark|
|Under the Sign of the Black Mark|
Label: Black Mark Productions
Year released: 1986
Genre: Black Metal
Review online: May 25, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
for:Under the Sign of the Black Mark
Rated 4.55/5 (90.94%) (53 Votes)
This was the third album for Bathory (as always, really just Quorthon), and you have to hear this CD before the whole rest of the Black Metal genre will make any sense. Realizing that Mayhem released their debut "The Deathcrush" the year after this came out did a lot to help explain to me where the entire movement came from.
This is Black Metal folks, back before it had a name. Bathory took the raw-riff approach of early Venom and made it even more evil and underground. And Quorthon undoubtedly gets credit for inventing the raspy vocal style that has come to define Black Metal. So this is obviously a highly influential album, which would make it a classic even if it sucked. But this is actually a very cool album, not without flaws, but it still holds up after 17 years.
This is, of course, very raw, and the overall terrible production really brings down the CD. Of course, without that raw, underground quality it wouldn't be the same would it? I actually like the recording quality except for the drum sound, which is mixed way too loud and gets in the way of hearing the riffs. The guitarwork is actually pretty good—not technical, but very tasty and catchy. The songs structures are very simple and direct, as you would expect. "Massacre" is a little too simple, and the bad drums really sort of kill it. But slower cuts like "Woman Of Dark Desires" (about Elizabeth Bathory—who else?) and "Enter The Eternal Fire" show off a grim and evil groove with tons more atmosphere and more memorable riffs. In general, the slower tunes are better, but there are no real bad songs on here.
If you like underground Black Metal, then you probably already have this, and are planning to murder me for daring to rate it only 4/5. If you don't have it, get it. "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" is not a perfect album, but for what it is, it is a landmark release, well deserving of a spot on the shelf of any fan of extreme metal.
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