Writing the deeds of Darkness and Evil

A retrospective look on the dark lyrics

                    The lyrics found on the first couple of albums were, no doubt, doing a lot of walking the dark side of things. There is a lot of demonic stuff going on in the tracks written between 1983 and 1987, a lot of desecrating all holiness, even wiping your ass with the scalp of God and masturbating on the golden throne no less.

And quite naturally, the first three albums BATHORY, THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL and UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK, will occasionally be bundled up together and labeled“the Black Metal albums”. Sometimes biographers and fans will allow for the darker material on BLOOD FIRE DEATH to be included in this group as well, considering that album to be a transition type of record, with BATHORY going from the dark theme to the Nordic theme in that period of time.

It is due to this period and these records that media and fans alike will still think of BATHORY as one of the original Masters of Black Metal. And though there are more BATHORY releases that contain themes and topics as far away from the realms of darkness and evil as you can possibly get, the importance of this phase of darkness and evil, for BATHORY and the entire scene alike, is such that we can not move on down memory lane without dedicating a chapter to the writing of the deeds of darkness and evil...

Though certainly qualified, BATHORY never got
as much as a single sticker put on their albums.
Although, as we have seen in previous chapters, there were plenty of other themes and topics on these first three or four albums, such as the battle at Little Big Horn, blow jobs performed by female fans and the nuclear arms race to name but a few, it is of course the dark, evil, demonic and anti-Christian themes and topics that characterizes this phase of BATHORY. And this at a time when, overseas, dried up senators' wives succeeded in forcing the record industry, for four letter reasons, to put humiliating stickers on records. Though certainly qualified, BATHORY somehow never did get as much as a single sticker on any of their albums.

Despite the cover artwork, titles and gory photo's, the dark and evil themes of the first few albums, did however not reflect a deep personal interest in or commitment to Satanic rituals and occult behavior by any member of the group. The young trio of the first line-up certainly wasn’t as initiated as one might have expected. The approach to the dark matters was very innocent. The shocking effect was perhaps more important. Eventhough, it must be said, it was initially thought that nobody other than the band members themselves would ever get to actually hear the music or read the lyrics...

Nevertheless, the dark and evil themes would come natural to the trio, for reasons we shall explore in a minute, and by October 1984 and the release of the self titled debut, a niche had been established. For a number of years and albums, there seemed to be no acute need to look for other themes and topics.

- It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, that the Satanic and occult base for all the dark and evil lyrics found on the first three or four albums, had absolutely nothing to do with a religious point of view or a personal interest in those matters. The lyrics were very much just graphic scenes of the sort that could just as easily have been brought to you by horror comics and cartoons. The lyrics work within the frame of the songs without me ever having to burn a cross into my forehead to give them some sort of credibility. They were what they were; lyrics.

- I don't think one need not to be torching churches to be able to produce convincingly good dark and evil lyrics and music. And you need not to be evil or dark as a person. It's art, creativity and painting with words. However wrong the reputation of Ozzy as being the child of Satan or a possessed soul might be, he still does what he does well as an artist without ever having to be something or someone he is not. The possessed bit works well through our imagination and lives on through his artistic appearance and input.

Max Schrecks' loveable Nosferatu
character, the original celluloid
vampire. The silent movie format
helped making this figure work.

                    So, if no deeper personal interest in the black arts, or participation in the rituals and deeds of darkness and evil, what then could possibly have brought about the lyrics of darkness and evil found on at least the first three albums? The answer is that tons of horror movies, innumerable horror comic magazines, biblical illustrations, and once again those medieval paintings and woodcuts are primarily to blame for the dark topics and evil themes found on the early so-called Black Metal albums.

The limits of the silent movie era did not
hinder Schrecks' ultimate performance
in motion picture history, on the contrary.

- The base for those dark and evil lyrics, at least in the early days, was a combination of a lot of things. One being the fact we had all grown up watching tons of horror movies. Stuff like the Halloween films, the Omen trilogy and a lot of that sort of movies. I remember such titles as The Amityville Horror, The Entity, Rosemarys' Baby, The Exorcist and God knows how many more of those rather tacky and cheap horror flicks we used to watch over and over again as teenagers. There was a lot of haunted houses and tons of Satanic references in primarily European movies, with a dark vs light or evil vs good theme, that we'd watch over and over again.

- I guess that’s a definition you were a part of the first real VHS generation. Movies were accessible in a whole different way than before. You didn't have to go to the cinemas to see a film any longer. And if you weren’t interested in the Bruce Lee genre or dope smoking party high school type flicks frequent in the late 70's and early 80's, or the Sci-fi bag for that matter, there were always the horror films to turn to. And I know I sure did when growing up.

- There were also a lot of old classic Hammer Productions one could watch. If you were not into special effects primarily, but more into a subtle sense of horror, something those early horror movies, particularly the silent era films, were full of, there was a plethora of flicks to catch for inspiration. Like all those innumerableDracula films, or the handfulFrankenstein’s Monster movies produced in the 30's and 40's, to name but a few classics. And of course there were a handful of wonderful and timeless horror movies produced during the silent era, like Nosferatu.
One more screenshot of Schrecks' penis with
teeth, as this figure was once referred to
.
A selection of movie posters for horror movies
featuring Elizabeth Bathory in one form or another.
Oddly enough none is recommended by Quorthon.

- And sometime after forming BATHORY, we even caught a Hammer Production on Elizabeth Bathory, I a Monster, also known as Countess Dracula and featuring Ingrid Pitt... ha-ha-ha... for a Swede that name just fucking rules... But I remember we thought the movie itself looked more like a Playboy flick from the 60’s. Which, come to think of it, was the fault with a lot of those late 60's and early 70's horror movies.

- Still we would start looking around in horror movies dictionaries and stuff, and found other spots in horror movies for the old bloodcountess. Movies like the British film Count Dracula from 1971, directed by Peter Sasdy, a slightly lesbian flick I should ad, but with the Countess in it. And then there was The Craving, by Jacinto Molina from 1980. And the list goes on and on...

- Ad to that the reading of an awful lot of horror comics like Vampirella, Dracula, Shock and magazines like that, and tons of cheap paperback horror novels that I'd get for 5:- a piece at a second hand store, and you have a great base for very graphic images that were easily transformed into dark and evil, even pseudo-Satanic or demonic lyrics. But of course it takes a lot of imagination as well.

- I also remember a fascination for medieval paintings and woodcuts of the macabre sort. I'd visit the library on a regular basis and flip through the pages of big old books and gloat over medieval art. And, though it was soaked in Christian devotion, I'd spend quite some time just taking in the atmosphere of the medieval department of the Stockholm Historic Museum. And sometime later, the city of Stockholm even opened a whole Medieval Museum...

Boris Karloff as Frankensteins' Monster.
A sadly misunderstood character with an awful
HMO. Friend goooood... fire baaaaaad!
Vampirella, one of several horror & fantasy
comic magazines the original BATHORY members
would read in their teen years. The very graphic
stories in publications like these, would transform
easily to the lyrics of darkness and evil found on all
BATHORY's early so-called Black Metal albums.

- If today I read the lyrics of the albums we did back in the early and mid 80’s, to me that’s a lot of painting with words. I can't find anywhere on any of those albums, a sentence that could order somebody to kill a person, to munch away on a dead rat, to torch a building or to kick a line of tombstones over.

- I believe a lot of the difference between the Black Metal of the sort we got in the early and mid 80's, and the stuff that came out in the mid 90's, lies in the fact BATHORY and bands like Venom, Slayer and Hellhammer were doing a lot of painting with words and having some distance to the dark and evil subjects as such. The generation of bands that followed in the mid 90's, essentially our fans, just took it a bit further. Which basically is what every new generation will have to do anyway in order to profile themselves.

- Another issue not to be forgotten, is the fact that when BATHORY was formed, we were just three shit kids aged 17-18. We didn’t know a shit about life or death, let alone the stuff that metal and rock lyrics seemed to be made from. We'd never get to fuck bombshell bimbos, we'd never get to party all night long, we'd never swig whiskey while driving a Harley down Main Street doing 220mph etcetera. We really couldn't relate to those lyrics. We'd certainly listen to those NWOBHM albums, but when it came to write lyrics for our own material, we just picked up from the sources we thought seemed most graphic or effective.

- And so that's where all those horror movies, horror comics, medieval paintings and biblical illustrations comes into the picture. We'd never read no proper Satanic literature. At least I never did. At least not until sometime after having formed BATHORY, and then only to see if I could figure out how to really write about that stuff, if there was one way or one pattern.

- And we'd never join no underground cult, we'd never drink no blood or sacrifice kittens, or set churches ablaze. And we never had a shrine or a dark chapel with bones and inverted crosses and things like that.

- Sure, those who got to see BATHORY photo's published in fanzines and magazines back in 1983-1986, must have thought that I was totally into that bag and very serious about it all and full of it. But it was all really very innocent. It was just some slices of black leather, some studs, some chains, some bones and a couple of black candles and whathaveyou. Rather childish, very innocent and not at all too serious. But above all, it really was painting with words and creating an image that went hand in hand with the music.

Chock (Swedish spelling) was another horror publication
read by all members of BATHORY when in their teens.
This rather short lived horror publication sadly past away
in the late 70's. Shown here is a Christmas special from
1973, obviously read to pieces by a young Quorthon.
                    The choice of lyrics was probably also meant to have some shocking or provoking effect on the established adult world, sort of the effect sought after when a teen pick a 10 inch green Mohawk haircut or run safety pins through the cheeks. But the only time a person representing this adult world ever seem to have taken offence, was when bass player Freddan, on his way to a rehearsal one day and as usual wearing the oversized inverted crucifix around his neck on a chain, was reportedly confronted by what eventually turned out to be a priest in civilian clothing.
"Tonight a virgins' womb
shall breed a son of Hell."
Armageddon (1984)

Then there’s always this famous story of the three band members reading an article in a Swedish newspaper one day back in the summer of 1983. Reportedly members of a International Church of Satan, it was said, planned to hold a secret meeting the following weekend on a secret location in Stockholm. Our three young friends of course decided to check the meeting out. Only problem was they couldn’t make out from the article where this meeting was actually supposed to be held.

- Well, after all, the whole thing was not that they were reportedly organized international Satanists', but that the third power associates couldn't figure out exactly where the meeting was suppose to be held. Yet, the three of us decided to look around Stockholm in a happy-go-lucky fashion, for a place that at least to us seemed suitable for such a meeting. And at the end of the day, having looked up every strange building we could find, we all of a sudden found ourselves facing a building covered in strange symbols and weird inscriptions. To us, that was it. We knew it couldn’t be a church, thus it had to be the place we were looking for... ha-ha-ha...

Walking in through that main portal, the young trio confronted an tiny old man dressed up in ceremonial clothing, and proceeded to ask him intelligent things along the line “-So where’s the lamb going to be sacrificed?” and “-When will the blood ritual begin?”. It turned out our trio had walked right into the central synagogue, the shocked man being the head rabbi. Like distant Northern cousins to Beavis and Butthead, our embarrassed trio lingered away, surely with their fork tail between their legs...

- It wasn't only that we had grown up on a horror movies and horror comics diet, it was also a way to irritate and to provoke the church as such. Christianity represented the adult world, the parent generation, the authority and the teachers. Eventhough the teachers my generation would meet at school in Sweden in the 70's were primarily extreme lefties with Pol Pot badges, Palestine scarf's and shit.

- Every generation will seek ways to profile themselves, to rebel against past values and ideals. Not necessarily because those values and ideals may be all that wrong, but because there’s a need for every new generation to create its' own values and ideals for its' own cause and age. Whether it’s Rock ‘n Roll or Punk, a form of music at all or just a new way to wear that baseball cap or to color your hair, it’s essentially the same thing. And every new generation will have to go one step further than the previous generation in order to make an impact, to cut new grounds for itself, to create a rebellion of its' own.

"Hail Satanic Majesty. Tonight we sacrifice.
We drink our own blood and blasphemy.
While the moon is our only light."
Necromansy
(1984)
"Crusted blood on alter black.
The rite of dark is done.
The semen burn in sacred flames.
The witches sing their song."
The Rite Of Darkness (1985)

- Trying to put all that into musical terms, I guess one could say that what The New York Dolls and Alice Cooper had been doing for a few years, Kiss would take one more step and make exiting to tens of millions around the world. Alice Cooper was never able to reach me and my buddies back then in the early and mid 70's, however Kiss did. When it was time for our generation to pick up where we felt the N.W.O.B.H.M. had come to a halt, we'd walk that extra mile, just as a new generation of anything and any time and any cause must walk their extra mile.

- Exactly the same thing happened again in the mid 90's. Fans of BATHORY and acts like Venom, Hellhammer/Celtic Frost and Slayer, would form their own bands, doing what we had done already, yet take all that one step further. The image, the cover artwork, music and lyrics and whathaveyou, all driven to the extreme. And I loved it. I was so proud of the fact a lot of the members in those bands had sent us fan mail for almost a decade before they themselves got their own music and art out there and began to grace the pages of the fanzines and magazines... they were all our unwashed sons...

                    It has been said in interviews on numerous occasions, that while there wasn't that much of a serious anti-Christian message in the Black Metal oriented lyrics found on the first three or four BATHORY albums, however there was oddly enough a much more serious anti-Christian meaning behind picking up the Nordic theme found on the albums recorded in the late 80's and early 90's.

- By then, around 1987, when we were seriously looking for other things to write about, the Nordic theme came natural. It wasn't just that BATHORY was a Swedish act, and that we ought to feel the Nordic theme a natural solution because of our origin. It was also very much a feeling of wanting to ignore the whole Christian and religious crap altogether, and to pick a culture and world up that was very real up here prior to the arrival of Christianity in the 11th century. It was like getting at or opposing the whole Christian thing but without using a tool of Christianity, ie Satan and Satanism. It was like attacking Christianity from a different angle, and using our origin as a weapon.

- With some perspective, it was a bit of a gamble. The only other act that did anything remotely close to the swords and golden mead bag was Manowar, and I knew they certainly did not have a too serious or credible reputation. It could have meant the end would BATHORY pick that type of theme and topic up, we could have lost all credibility. But I was interested in finding out what the Nordic theme would do to our music. And so we took a gamble and went ahead.

"A sorcery written in blood,
whispered by a witch in the dawn,
summons the darkness pure evil and death,
and gathers the legions of scorn."

The Return Of The Darkness And Evil (1985)
"Satan's child born tonight
by womb untouched and pure.
All Hell rejoice the birth of the Son.
Laced in sin. Child of Hell.
The spirit of lust and pain.
Baptised in sacred Angel blood.
Now Evil can prevail."
13 Candles (1987)

- The beginning to the change occurred already in 1984-1985, believe it or not. We were preparing ourselves to record the second album, and I began to read as much as I could possibly come across on the subject of Satan and Satanism etc. Having done that I decided to read as much as possible on Christianity as well. Finally I realized it was all just religious hocus-pocus. I couldn’t do it any more. I wanted turn to and try other topics, to see what that might do to our music, how that could make BATHORY evolve and develop, and what might do to me as a composer and as a musician.

- At the time, it seemed pointless to write another album full of Satan this and God that. There are only so many ways you can wipe your ass with the scalp of God or masturbate on the golden throne. Not too many bands actually get to make one album after another. So why spend all this time, and waste all this space on records, bringing up a lot of unimportant religious mumbo-jumbo? Had the dark and evil theme been a religious point of view, it would of course have been a different story.

- So around UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK and BLOOD FIRE DEATH, it truly felt like a waste of time and effort to write about that religious crap. When we picked the Nordic theme up, we weren’t Satanists going soft, a Black Metal act that sold out, or a evil band that lost its' ideals. We were just moving on. The Nordic theme wasn't any more true or closer to heart than the dark and evil themes. Using the Nordic theme was as much painting with words as the Satanic theme. But as much as I thought Christianity seemed absurd on a whole, it would have been absurd not to bring other topics into BATHORY once the dark and evil theme had been exploited fully.

- Picking up the dark and evil themes was not a stand taken, a point of view made official, or a personal ideology expressed. Nor was that siding with evil as such, or with Satanism for that matter. It was quite simply a way to get at Christianity, to provoke, to irritate and to annoy those above-all know-all Christians, the church itself and the dictatorial Christian faith on a whole.

- Satan, the way we relate to the phenomenon, is an all and all out Christian product. Period. So why pick a Christian product up to deliver a kick in the groin of Christianity itself? In the early years we didn't think in too deep terms about that, though. We just reckoned the dark and evil theme to be an excellent backdrop for lyrics. And hopefully it would irritate or annoy one or two Christians down the road.

"And he wants me follow and to enter the eternal fire"
Enter The Eternal Fire (1987)

                    On the UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK album, recorded in September 1986, some lyrics would actually prove to have been inspired by subjects other than the usual demonic and Satanic themes. The lyrics to “Massacre”, for instance, were inspired by a lot of reading on the American native tribes and their struggle fighting the white intruders. The essence of “Equimanthorn” was inspired by pre-Christian northern European mythology. “Chariots of Fire” was all about the nuclear arms race. And “Of Doom…” was affectionately dedicated to the increasing numbers of followers around the world.

The need to try out themes and topics other than the dark and evil ones, also brought about a slight change in the way the music would be arranged. Incorporated into the production of UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK, were harmony guitar solos, backing vocals, a subtle carpet of strings and occasionally even a new beat. This is most evident when listening back to one of the most classic BATHORY tracks of all time, “Enter the Eternal Fire”.


"Buried and forgotten in a nameless grave.
If there's a God in Heaven hear my call from the grave."
Call From The Grave (1987)

- It’s a classic theme; sell your soul to the horned one, and life will be a ball. But there will be a pay-back day. There is reportedly a price to pay for the pleasures, victories and gold if you’ve taken the short cut and signed a deal with the dethroned guy. You better prepare yourself for eternity frying on the hotbeds of sizzling hell. The theme as such has been covered by virtually every author, writer and composer, from Greek novelists of the antique and medieval painters to play-writers and composers of the 18th and 19th century. So why not BATHORY?

- That particular track, together with "Call From The Grave", was met with such an enormously positive response, not the least for the rather different beat, and would open the gates for more experimentation, not only musically but also lyrically.

The response to this new style, the heavier beat, the more complex arrangements and the slightly new instrumentation, was phenomenal. The band was happy to note that every new ingredient on UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK, was being pointed out as the highlights of the album and deemed so different from the rest of the stuff made by other act’s out there.

- We then felt we were really onto something. We had taken a gamble doing a lot of the stuff that’s on UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK. But the response made us very glad. This meant the path we had wanted to try out for a while, was ok with our audience, which resulted in the albums to come.

- And we were just as excited as our audience, to see what would come out of walking a bit further down that road. And the amazing thing is, still to this day I’ll be confronted by people who’ll shake my hand, and with tears in their eyes thank me for UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK.

- It's strange when you think back and stop at moments in history when you've made a sudden turn, such as taking a gamble with a couple of things on UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK, things that would have immense repercussions on years to come. I don't think that you can plan events like that and end up quite as on top all the time.


"See his star ablaze his children.
On the night the flames reach for the sky.
Night is come to enter.
The never ending burning fire"
Dies Irae (1988)

The search for new topics was on. More elaborate arrangements and complex instrumentation ensued. This opened all floodgates. Inspiration seemed endless. The next album would be a record full of ideas, sounds and depth. BLOOD FIRE DEATH, recorded in February 1988 and by many still considered as the pinnacle of the 80’s for BATHORY, featured multitrack backing vocals, acoustic guitars, carpets of strings, harmony guitar solos, sound effects and innovative turns. This album was full of atmosphere, complex arrangements and elaborate instrumentation. And as a sign of things to come still, on BLOOD FIRE DEATH the dark end evil themes were in minority.

                    Though not on a BATHORY album, the dark brutalities and demonic themes of BATHORY's early years would surface once again. Ten years later, when the second wave of Black Metal emerged, the impact of the early BATHORY albums and their influence on an entire generation of fans and musicians alike, became obvious. The sound, style, atmosphere, instrumentation and themes all typical of BATHORY’s first phase, would both be recycled, revitalized and honored. Even album cover artwork feel and song titles were recycled.

"Scattered battered wings along the palaces and streets.
Trophy of the victory attached to spear of the Beast.

Now spitted at is the scalp of God."
The Golden Walls Of Heaven (1988)

Today bands are named Equimanthorn, Heavenshore and Dies Irae. Today acts put out tracks entitled The Fire Eternal, A Sign For The Norse Hordes To Ride and The Rite of Evil. Today there are record labels named Hammerheart and Twilight. There has been fanzines dubbed Of Doom and Storm of Damnation. And the list probably goes on and on. Not forgetting the female fan that gave her baby boy the middle name Quorthon for good measure. The effects that BATHORY have had on the entire extreme metal industry are as obvious as they are undisputed.

And amazingly, not only would the sheer darkness and demonic brutalities of BATHORY’s first phase be lovingly copied almost to the letter by the young and predominately Scandinavian bands of the second wave of Black Metal. Even the sounds of nature, opera-like backing vocals, brass and strings, harmony guitars and acoustic guitar parts, instantly recognizable as ingredients of BATHORY’s Nordic and epic phase, would act as a vital musical and atmospheric base for the acts we all regard as part of the second wave of Black Metal. Even BATHORY’s Nordic & Epic phase, it seems, influenced a predominately Satanic scene.

                    But what about the dark and evil themes and topics on later BATHORY albums? Were there any at all? And what sort of void could possibly the absence of these themes and topics leave?

Symptomatically, while the second wave of Black Metal was in its' infant phase, BATHORY went in a very different direction. On the two following monuments of heaviness, HAMMERHEART and TWILIGHT OF THE GODS, there were of course and quite naturally no dark and evil themes and topics to be found. And though the two following albums REQUIEM and OCTAGON contained their share of brutalities and thrashing energy, the traditional dark and evil themes and topics seemed to have vanished from the BATHORY scene for good.

There were some lyrics on REQUEIM that at least seemed close to earlier darkness and evil. Notably "Blood And Soil" and "Necroticus" were at least full of blood and gore. And despite promising titles, neither "Crossitution" or "Pax Vobiscum" on OCTAGON were traditional Black Metal tracks, but instead offered a more modern view of the church and Christian faith.


"The altar covered in life giving cum.
The smell of forever running wet cunts.
Flesh and sweat. Dancing bare limbs around the fire.
The sound of clashing wet bodies and sighs."
Blood And Soil (1994)

"They say you’ve said for you only we all shall live and
die. Tell me who needs Stalin with a fascist in the sky?"
Pax Vobiscum (1994)

If there were few moments on REQUIEM that could be regarded as fairly close to the darkness and evil from yesteryear, OCTAGON would, despite such interesting titles as "Schizianity", Sociopath", "Psychopath" and "Born To Die", contain even less of the obvious darkness and evil stuff from a past phase. Heavy on the social subjects, human riddle and psychological level, OCTAGON was primarily an attempt to stretch out and to pick up more modern themes.

- Amazingly, REQUIEM and OCTAGON were both written, arranged, recorded, mixed and released within only eleven months time, from June 1984 to May 1995. Eight weeks after the release of REQUEIM in November, we entered the studio to record OCTAGON. And we had OCTAGON out in the shops before we had even seen or heard any reactions to REQUIEM. Truth was, we weren't interested anyway what the press had to say.

With a little bit of perspective, these days it is easy to see that REQUIEM and OCTAGON was a lot about letting off some steam, to try some more modern topics out, to get some energy our of their system, and to exploit their newly found lust for brutalities, albeit of a very different kind than the sort of which UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK for instance was so full of.

In interviews when REQUIEM and OCTAGON have been discussed, Quorthon have explained how this period was very much characterized by an urge to find a way back to a unrefined, primitive and rather basic style, close to where it all once started, and to free the lyrics from any sort of image or imageries.

- It was really necessary. We had painted ourselves into a corner with ever bigger productions, ever bolder arrangements and ever expanding instrumentation. We felt a desperate urge to, if the torn expression is allowed, get back to basics. To find a style that was free of both imageries of Darkness & Evil and of Nordic & Viking elements. If you remain tied to one phase from your evolutionary cycle simply because it hits home with everybody out there, then what about evolving at all?! That's what we worried about back then.

- I know our decision to abandon the Nordic theme and the big production style might have seemed as sheer insanity to some. Particularly when, to a lot of people, that was what BATHORY was all about. To some we were still the Masters of Black Metal, but to most we had evolved to become the Kings of Nordic Metal within only two albums. So sure, back in the mid 90's the reactions were livid, hysterical and absolutely unforgiving. But, as they say, what does not kill you only makes you stronger...

"I read the holy writings. I read Matthew's
18th chapter, 7, 8 and 9. And I realized what had
to be done. And that I just had so little time."
Schizianity (1995)
                    On the 1996 one-off souvenir return to epic Nordic sceneries, BLOOD ON ICE, the darkness and evil of course had no place. That is if one chose's to ignore the twin-headed beast mentioned throughout this conceptual theme album. It wouldn't be until BATHORY's 15th anniversary in 1988, and the release of JUBILEUME VOLUME III, that the fans of the epoch of darkness and evil would get their whish granted.
"Finally the purifying storm. First we shall die. Then be reborn.
So flock the banner of the return. Now fight and die.
Many head serpent is here at our side."
Day Of Wrath (2001)

Included in the tracking list for JUBILEUM VOLUME III were two golden nuggets from the archives of unreleased material, "Satan My Master" and "Witchcraft", recorded in a May 1984 session shortly before the band entered the studio to record the debut album. In addition to this, the fans of the darkness and evil were offered a real treat in the form of "In Nomine Satanas", the original and somewhat darker and evil version of "Bond Of Blood".

These three tracks, together with all the previously un-released or hard-to-find tracks off the two previous JUBILEUM volumes, have made up the tracking list of countless bootleg CD's and Lp's in the past decade. This being proof there's enough of a craving for dark and evil BATHORY material out there, for the bootleg industry to be profitable selling bits of dark and evil BATHORY. Even if the quality and packaging of the bootlegs are somewhat less desirable when compared to the originals.

On the DESTROYER OF WORLDS effort in 2001, the only track that seemed to touch the topics of a past dark and evil phase of BATHORY, was "Day Of Wrath". And although both "Pestilence", "Bleeding", "Kill Kill Kill" and "White Bones" all explored darker fields, it would nevertheless be for a track on Ice Hockey and one other track on Harley-Davidson Motorcycles that DESTROYER OF WORLDS would be sentenced and remembered.
- I know how, to some people on the outside, it seems absolutely absurd that we should give so much credit to the opinion of our fan base. But I have said it before and I'll say it again; we're making albums for the BATHORY Hordes, so their opinion means the world to us. And they can be very very conservative. And why shouldn't they be?! They could just as well don't give a fuck about BATHORY and decide to turn to other acts that offer something that so obviously already rests on a solid base of classic BATHORY. We can only be BATHORY and wouldn't want to be anything else.

- The reason why our fan base do share their very honest views and opinions with us, is because they desperately want BATHORY to be BATHORY. Period. Then it's a completely different matter one third of our fan base wants BATHORY to be the Masters of Black and Death Metal, and that two thirds of our fan base wants us to be the Kings of epic Nordic and Viking Metal... but that's our problem. And we'll deal with that in the future by concentrating on those two sides of BATHORY.

- If we produce something recognizable as typically BATHORY, we'll usually be accused by the selfmade experts of the media of having no ideas and for being exploiters of past triumphs. Yet, every time we have experimented and deviated from the standard BATHORY themes, topics, styles and sound, they cut BATHORY down by the ankles for apparently neglecting what a BATHORY album should be all about. So that's a rat race you not can even hope to win should you decide to pick up the glove.

- So we have to focus on the opinion of our fan base, not on the whim of those who retrieve their CD's and expand their record collection for free, and whose job it apparently is to ridicule others and to tell you what's worth listening to and what's the flavor of the month...

"All dressed in red and purple
the beauty awaits the night"
Woman Of Dark Desires (1987)
Countess Elizabeth Bathory, and the themes
and topics of darkness and evil, would have
to wait just a little longer for their moment
on a BATHORY album to return.

- In the spring of 2001, when we said we´d put various projects aside and enter the studio in the summer to record a new album, the letters and emails began to pour in. And it was as usual very confusing to read what they all wanted a new BATHORY album to be all about. One portion of our fan base asked for "A Fine Day To Die", "Through Blood By Thunder" and "Shore In Flames" type of material. Another would request for material in the "Dies Irae", "Equimanthorn" and "The Golden Walls Of Heaven" vein.

- Certain themes, topics, imageries etcetera, were still very precious and important to our fan base obviously. This created an awkward situation. While we realized it wasn't time yet to try something completely new and totally different out, we knew we certainly didn't want to produce Black or Death Metal right then, nor Viking or Nordic Metal. That would have been a step back. (read more on that story in the up and coming DESTROYER OF WORLDS Chapter/Webmaster)

- So DESTROYER OF WORLDS turned out a rather strange and handicapped compromise. Though we weren't using old and tried themes and topics, we still tried to produce material on that album that had a feel that at least would remind of past phases. "Ode" and "Lake of Fire" were two tracks reminiscent of the Epic era for instance, while the more brutal tracks were closer to the first three releases.

                    Around this time, countless acts had already been putting their BATHORY influences into practice for a few years, picking up where they felt BATHORY had come to a halt. And the second wave of Black Metal were creating a fan base for themselves. These younger fans would read in interviews and biographies how BATHORY had been the main source of inspiration to their favorite second wave Black Metal bands. And so they would pick a BATHORY album up, expecting material of the sort produced by their corpse painted heroes. But with the catalogue of BATHORY being so very diverse and an album up that to them must have sounded like something the cat dragged in.

In other words, at that moment in time, some people felt BATHORY was severely out of sync with the rest of the scene. For some, it mattered little that BATHORY had only co-founded, enriched and inspired the entire scene in its' width and depth.

The ruins of Elizabeth Bathory's Cacthice castle.
Apparently accessible to tourists.
Anyone for Bed and Breakfast ?!
One more shot of Countess Elizabeth
Bathory's Cacthice castle ruins.

- With the big productions, grand arrangements and elaborate instrumentation of the BLOOD FIRE DEATH, HAMMERHEART and TWILIGHT OF THE GODS era in fresh memory, yet feeling the purely Satanic and demonic themes were perhaps out of the picture for good, there were still those who hoped for BATHORY to at least produce something like a grand conceptual theme album on the life and death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory. And we'd actually ponder that project for a while. It might have been great fun working on a project like that.

- But with DESTROYER OF WORLDS out, the priority, we realized, was not a Countess Bathory theme album, but to focus on an album drenched in golden mead, set in a snow clad environment, filled with sound effects, multitrack backing vocals and pure Nordic atmosphere. It was very clear by then that the majority of our fan base craved for an all and all out epic Nordic Metal release. So for our next album, we knew it had to be just that.

What followed next was the twinheaded Nordic saga NORDLAND, an album on which the themes and topics of pure darkness and evil of yesteryear of course had no place whatsoever. Targeted at the epic loving Nordic and Viking Metal fraction of the BATHORY Hordes, and composed and arranged to fully connect with the atmosphere and imageries of primarily the HAMMERHEART phase, the twinheaded NORDLAND saga was a return to the concept of ten minute tracks, complex arrangements, elaborate instrumentation, huge production style and the unmistakable all and all out Nordic atmosphere. All very welcome, judging from the sales figures and very positive feedback from fans the world over. Even though the almost identical album cover artwork and booklet design for NORDLAND's two volumes apparently was enough to confuse the majority of the so-called metal press...


                    Despite the commercial success of NORDLAND, and the fact that BATHORY once and for all proved their royal status as undisputed and undefeated Kings of Nordic and Viking Metal, the twin headed NORDLAND release does not necessarily mean that the future is all golden mead and winterland. Or does it?

- Of course not. Eventhough a majority of our fan base certainly consider Nordic and Viking Metal to be what BATHORY does better than any other act out there, BATHORY is still a multiheaded beast and always will be. And we still have a considerable base of fans of the Darkness & Evil too you know.

- When you've walked down the aisle of evolution the way BATHORY has over the past two decades, having tried a bit of this and tasted a bit of that, although I favor no album before another, they are all dear to me for what they are, there are certain golden nuggets that stands out from a very diverse and varied output. BATHORY might not have single handedly created Black and Nordic Metal. But BATHORY certainly was a very deciding force in establishing the very foundation on which the whole of both Black and Nordic Metal rests on today. And BATHORY have every intention to remain a contributing and innovative act within both these realms in the many years that lie ahead.

"Satan my master.
Remember me when judgment day is near.
Satan my master.
Take my hand when Armageddon is here."
Satan My Master (1984)


Although it seems, judging from the majority of the fan mail received over the years, that theme and topic isn't quite as important as the typical BATHORY old school sound and underground feel, it is still the grand productions and elaborate arrangements that has become synonymous with BATHORY.

This has created a situation that sometimes would feel like a trap as far as creativity and making decisions for the future is concerned. Bold steps and interesting ideas came to a halt already at infant stages, simply because not enough of any of those fresh ideas would have coincided with what people clearly wanted from BATHORY. Attempts to feel the ground outside traditional frames were few and would mostly turn out handicapped and full of compromises. In other words; BATHORY were trapped in a type-cast like corner.


"I masturbate on golden throne and quench
my thirst from sacred virgins fragile throats."
Witchcraft (1984)


- That's basically what most of what BATHORY did in the 90's was all about. We felt trapped and missed that basic, in-our-face and unrefined energy and feel that made up eg the debut album. That's where BATHORY came from. I was afraid BATHORY was becoming too polished and too main stream. We needed a fresh restart. I though it would be a good time to pick that unrefined and rough thread up after a production like TWILIGHT OF THE GODS. And celebrating ten years around the same time looked like fate. Here was a chance to begin a new decade with a blank page and to leave with a loving hand the residue from past triumphs behind.

- Personally I saw it as a way to get out of the corner we had painted ourselves into. We were quite simply trying out what we could do, and were allowed to do, outside the perimeters of those big productions and the elaborate arrangements. But though tons of various subjects had been on BATHORY albums in the past, the reactions to some odd topics and unorthodox song structure in the 90's, stuff that was quite a bit away from "One Rode To Asa Bay" and "A Fine Day To Die", was frightening. It was condemned and resulted in tons of hard words and awful treatment by too many out there for comfort.

It is an interesting thought: just how many acts would actually survive the turmoil that BATHORY faced in the 90's? Despite such comments as "lost but not found", "the end of BATHORY", "a legend dying" and "the rot setting in", not only has the bond between BATHORY and the Hordes proven unbreakable, but the ability of BATHORY to always surprise, to reinstall itself as a force to be reckoned with and to reclaim royal status, seem intact despite a rather strange and turbulent second decade.


- The so called metal media was relentless towards not just BATHORY throughout the 90's. Had the situation not been as ugly as it often was, one could comment on whole media entity as a gas back then really. It's funny to see how very quick a bunch of grown-ups can denoting an act or a person as finished or unfashionable, simply because a new record may not answer to their idea of what a new album by this person or this act should sound like or be all about. And it is amusing to see how very quickly they declare the comeback of somebody or something simply because a new release may coincide with their idea of what you're suppose to be and sound like.

- Such was the case with NORDLAND. It was declared a comeback by the metal press simply because that saga matched the general notion of what BATHORY was all about. A comeback?! A comeback of what? To where? From where? And for how long were we gone? And why? The answer to all those questions is embedded solely in the minds of a little pathetic clique that really is redundant. Every vivid fan, honest record buyer or serious follower of music don't give a fuck about what a desk nerd feels about anything. The problem is that the whole metal media is built up around the vim of these nerds.

- On an objective level: some of the BATHORY releases of the so called legendary 80's were twice as bad on every level as anything BATHORY ever did in the 90's. But you can't say that, because they're holy those albums. When this or that critic describe either the guitars, vocals or overall production of a new album as crapl and no way near his pet BATHORY record of the 80's, he not only forget that the guitars, vocals or overall production of that album, frequently mentioned in the review as some sort of peak effort impossible to top, was not only considerable low form even for those days but down and outright bloody awful by modern standards.

"Even the Gods of countless religions,
holds no power against this tide
of degeneration, because we have
now found that there are no
thrones up there in the sky".
Twilight Of The Gods
(1991)
"And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven,
Now is come salvation, and strength, and the
kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ:
for the accuser of our brethren is cast down,
which accused them before our God day and night"
Rev 12:10

- Sentimentality prevent some critics from making clear judgments, and that's why they'll ridicule many new efforts with such ease. In fact while trying to come across as experts, they're just displaying their own limitations. BATHORY have quite naturally had its' ups and downs in the coarse of over two decades. I have learned so much from living and working with BATHORY all this time, about people and how a lot of things actually work in this world. Nothing can kill me now.

- The object for any musician, any composer, any act, must be to focus on the relationship and connection with a fan base and audience. Not necessarily with tours and a string of live shows every now and then, that's bit is up to anybody to decide for themselves. But when putting a commercial and official product like a record out, the base for that piece of art must to some extent be an answer to what your fan base and audience is requesting from you at that moment in time. No flavor of the week policy, album of the month tendencies or approval of the taste mob tactics should be allowed to influence your decisions.

- If some individuals are having problems with not being able to pin myself or BATHORY down in a corner, or with not finding a suitable file to slide BATHORY down, that's not my head ache. I know BATHORY is diverse and varied an act, but so is our discography and history, and carrying on means releases of various styles and themes. And if doing a good job at that takes a bit of moving around sound and stylewise, then so be it. Those whose hearts pound for BATHORY knows the deal and that's all I care for.

                    And so when making decisions for the future, and when writing for BATHORY albums in the years to come, it'll be on classic BATHORY, clad in either the robe of Darkness & Evil or the Nordic & Viking mantle that BATHORY will focus. Seeing no problem whatsoever to combine the two styles in the future, albeit not on the same record, BATHORY is looking ahead with a much clearer view than before.

- I can see ahead about three or four albums down the road already now. And I am not interested in trying to cut virgin land for myself, BATHORY or anybody else. BATHORY already did its' part in co founding, developing and enriching the scene. What BATHORY should be all about in the future, is being BATHORY. BATHORY has a legacy and a testament to nourish, a trademark to care for and a style and sound instantly identifiable. Not too many acts ever get any of that. So why try to be something you're not or waste time and energy reinventing yourself.

- The golden nuggets I was talking about before, the things one hopefully will have learned from being involved with something like BATHORY for over two decades, while some great stuff was created along the road, I guess it takes walking a mile or two before you realize things. When you're still on your journey, you may easily lose perspective, the journey becomes the object. But the road may not necessarily tell you that much about anything when you're only halfway there. Once you've made some distance and look back, though, you'll realize one or two things about yourself and what it is your doing and what you've have been up to in the past. It takes a little bit of living to learn I guess, a little bit of traveling in order to get anywhere on the inside as well.

"The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire
and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are.
And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."
Rev 20:10
- The future will be classic BATHORY Black Metal and classic BATHORY Nordic Metal. No doubt about that. Knowing that BATHORY have learned one or two things over these past two decades, becoming seasoned and wiser, and thus able to produce albums that more firmly against the tooth of time than albums of the past, the future is looking truly interesting I think.
"And he said to them, I saw Satan
fall like lightning from heaven."
Luke 10:18

- There is something uniquely intriguing about writing lyrics of Darkness & Evil. Just as writing lyrics in the Nordic & Viking style, the Darkness & Evil sure does something to you. They're both truly fantastic wells of inspiration to pour from. Very definitive areas to move about within. And they are both defining extremes of the spectrum of what BATHORY is all about as far as lyrics, themes and topics is concerned. I don't think the last refrain on neither the Dark & Evil and Nordic & Viking themes has been sung yet. I think there are so many more ways one can write about both themes, and allow for the atmosphere of the theme to effect your music.

- Particularly with such a huge number of emails and fan mail coming during the last year or two, from Black Metal fans of both BATHORY and other such acts, mentioning the theme and topics of Darkness & Evil as dearly missed on recent BATHORY records, I think it would be a big mistake not to mind that side of BATHORY every once in a while.

It would truly be a very interesting thing to see what BATHORY anno 21st century would sound like when picking up the spiked club of yesteryears Darkness & Evil.

                    The so called Black Metal albums of BATHORY undoubtedly influenced an entire scene. Together with early releases by Venom, Hellhammer/ Celtic Frost and Slayer, the BATHORY, THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL and UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK albums created the base on which the Darkness & Evil of the 80's would come to rest.

And when the second wave of Black Metal went for the jugular of the world a decade later, the core of the movement was admittedly inspired and lovingly influenced by not only BATHORY's albums of Darkness & Evil, but also by the atmosphere, arrangements, instrumentation and production style of the BLOOD FIRE DEATH, HAMMERHEART and TWILIGHT OF THE GODS albums, also known as the Nordic & Viking releases.

The Darkness & Evil legacy of BATHORY lives on through countless corpse paint bands, cross embossed groups and spiked constellations the world over. It only takes checking the album cover artwork of the scene out, or hearing those pitbull vocals, the strings, brass, choir, soundeffects and acoustic guitar parts on albums released in the last decade, to know where all of that came from initially.

"How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,
son of the morning. How you are cut down to
the ground, You who weakened the nations
."
Luke 10:18


If it wouldn't have been for those old horror movies, cheap horror paperback novels, horror comics, medieval paintings, biblical illustrations and a truckload of imagination a long long time ago, it might all have been a very different story altogether.

And though the phase of Darkness & Evil had been a epoch-making bunch of years and albums, and a vital body of work for both BATHORY and the scene in its' width and depth for great many years to come, in mid 1987 the stem for BATHORY was set for some blood fire death...

©bathory.nu