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Classic Review: Bathory - Blood Fire Death
Blood Fire Death

Label: Black Mark Productions
Year released: 1988
Duration: 45:43
Tracks: 8
Genre: Black Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: October 18, 2004
Reviewed by: Sargon the Terrible
Readers Rating
Blood Fire Death

Rated 4.56/5 (91.16%) (95 Votes)

Hell yes! This was the fourth CD for Bathory, and the last one before the shift into the later, more epic and melodic direction on the following "Hammerheart" album. This was the follow-up to the legendary "Under The Sign Of The Black Mark" and in my opinion pretty much kicks even that great album's ass.

If you love Bathory for the later Viking Metal albums, then approach this with some caution, as this is very much a continuation of the hard and fast primitive Black Metal sound of "Black Mark". In fact this is mostly even faster and more vicious than that one. Things open up with the epic, instrumental intro "Odens Ride Over Nordland" that almost sounds like the opening of a new age CD, the acoustic guitars and crooning vocals that begin the second track don't do much to belie that impression, but then the riffs of "A Fine Day To Die" crunch your skull flat, and the album never lets up from there. "Fine Day.." with it's huge riffs and epic, eight-minute length, is probably one of Bathory's greatest songs ever. And the coolness does not go downhill after this, and neither does the speed. "The Golden Walls Of Heaven" is fast, furious, and evil, followed by the blistering "Pace Til Death", which has silly lyrics, but smokes so hard you don't care. "Holocaust", "Dies Irae" - there are just no bad cuts on this one, going all the way to the monster title cut, another one of Bathory's great songs and a landmark in metal, not to mention a foreshadow of what was to come.

The production on this album is so much better than on the preceding "Black Mark", and it's really the perfect sound for this kind of fast, vicious thrashiness – raw and unpolished, but still well-mixed and clear. The lower end of the mix is huge this time, and makes this sound heavy as a fucking sledghammer. Quorthon's vocals are a raw shriek, and only here and there does he dabble in the clean style he used on later albums. The songwriting on "Blood Fire Death" is more varied than on previous albums, and the style is overall a bit thrashier – almost into old Slayer territory in places, though this album fucking crushes everything Slayer ever recorded, hands down.

Bathory never came fully back to this kind of pummeling assault after the success of "Hammerheart", and it's kind of a shame, as Quorthon proved on this album that he was better at it than just about anyone. Given the stellar albums he would produce over the next fifteen years before his untimely death, I can't really complain, but man, this album kicks so much ass. I would have taken another album like this over "Octagon" or "Destroyer Of Worlds" any fucking day. Words cannot express how fucking cool this is. Classic and killer.

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