BATHORY's recording debut January 1984
In Sweden in 1983, Heavy Metal was regarded as unimportant noise favored by none other than the immature and uneducated working class teens in the suburbs.
One memorable full-page article in a Swedish newspaper published in 1981, at least tried to explain to an adult circuit of readers the New Wave of British Heavy Metal phenomenon. That article sort of summed up how bad the situation was for Heavy Metal in Sweden at the time. It was the first time since the prime days of bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin that an article in a Swedish newspaper would even feature the terminology. You just didn’t talk about metal.
Metal Lp's were hard to find in regular supermarkets and department stores. In all of Stockholm, only one tiny little record store - Heavy Sound - could supply the Heavy Metal and Hardrock albums sought after. There's even fond memories of Metal heads greeting each other with a collegial nod on busses and the tube before proceeding to check each others denim jackets out - highly decorated with patches and badges - to see if the bond went beyond the hair length in an otherwise short-haired era.
However - while on the hair note - all of this would change when Upplands Väsby based hair-band Europe won first prize in a nationwide talent contest and got to record their first album. A suppressed desire among the general young public for something other than the synthesized tones of deluded pop-disco and the fake-reactionary New Wave, would burst out into total freedom in the wake of the release of Europe's first album. And fueled on by the surprisingly lavish exposure that Europe was given in Swedish press, national radio and television, this new situation for Hardrock and Heavy Metal in Sweden brought about an apparent sudden rush of young Swedish bands playing Hardrock and Heavy Metal.
So it might not have come as a surprise to anybody when small independent Stockholm based rock label Tyfon - Swedish for Typhoon - Records decided to put a metal compilation album together, featuring young Swedish metal bands.But it was actually a daring enterprise nonetheless. Swedish Hardrock and Heavy Metal bands didn’t exactly have a routine of passing demos onto Swedish record labels, they knew nobody would care to listen beyond the opening chord anyway. So the task of hunting suitable bands down wasn’t an easy one. In the end, a handful of Swedish bands had been hooked up, together with three Finish acts for good measure.
- I don't know what its like these days, but back in 1981 and in my school, if kids were getting really bored with the school routine, there was this practical vocational guidance program that allowed some kids to take a part time job two days a week in order to gain working experience, and perhaps in the process straighten up their school work.
- I had been playing and writing music since the age of 9, and the only thing that I could think of doing was music in one form or the other. But there were no vacant spots in music stores or record shops. Finally my practical vocational guidance teacher came across a vacant spot at a small record company, the spot calling for office duties, but I didn’t mind. To me it was music on another level.
- I got the quarter-time job doing all sorts of stuff from making coffee to listening to cassettes sent in by bands or packing Lp's and tapes, typing out simple letters or running every sort of errand.
- The office routine was ok, but it was pure magic when occasionally you got to sit in the back of the studio watching as a pop or rock band recorded a single or an Lp. You get to learn a lot from just watching others even if you don't like the music itself. And if you're 15 and into music, that's a pretty exciting experience.
- That two-days a week project went on for almost the whole term, and I cared more for those six hours per week than I did for school the rest of the week. But I can't say it did anything for straightening up my results in school...
- So a year and a half later when I was in need of something to do, I was looking for a part-time job, but couldn't imagine myself doing even half of the things I was offered. I was only 17 and in those days that was too young an age to take a regular full-time job. So I had to ask and look around for a vacant spot sort of on the side.
- I then called Tyfon and was happy to learn I could just come back and pick my old chores up, which was fine with me even though they would only have job for a extra hand like me totaling 8-12 hours per week. More than me needing the money, it was a case of me looking for something to do rather. And it was still music at some level, so I was glad for the spot.
- So when in January 1984 the compilation album was being planned, I was actually already working quarter-time 8 to 12 hours a week at Tyfon Records.As the date grew closer and the various bands prepared themselves for their recording session, it turned out one of the Finish acts couldn’t make it to Sweden due to army duties. All of a sudden there was a vacant spot on the compilation album. A vacant spot that had to be filled.
- I made damn sure to do my very best in convincing Tyfon how well my band would fill that spot. Although, when they asked me what sort of music we played, trying to make sure they wouldn't feature too much of the same stuff on the album, I think I said something stupid along the lines “-...very brutal...” or “-...rough and demonic stuff...”. It was all so very innocent. - There were no charts with subcategories in those days to pick from. It was either Metal or it wasn’t. None of us had ever heard of Black Metal, Death Metal, Gothic, Epic, Thrash or Hardcore, let alone Nordic or Viking Metal.
- Regardless of whatever it now was I described BATHORY as to them, they figured it was still better than nothing. So without presenting a demo or anything at the time, we got ourselves the vacant spot. Tyfon actually didn't get to hear a tape until one or two days prior to us recording for SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK.
- When they asked me had we recorded a demo, I could only say no, but mentioned the existence of another tape should they want to have a listen. I brought with me the June ´83 “You don’t move me” and “Die In Fire” tape, but had to point out it had been recorded using a different set of musicians. With only eight original songs written in ten months time: “Satan My Master”, “Witchcraft”, “Live in Sin” (a.k.a. “Live and Die in Sin”), “Dirty Woman”, “Sacrifice”, “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”, “You Don’t Move Me” and “Die in Fire”, the band opted for “Sacrifice” and “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” for the recording. When arriving at the studio on a bitterly cold morning on the 23rd of January, not owning a car between them - thus not able to bring their gear - the band had been promised they could use the amplifiers and drums already set up in the studio. Thus only Quorthon were to play his own instrument during this session.
- We ran through “Sacrifice” first, jumping around and headbanging as we went along. The problem was we couldn’t keep the headphones on while doing that, they threatened to slip off every now and then.
- There was an awful lot of mistakes played and tons of laughter finding it’s way onto the tape, until a voice in the headphones said perhaps we’d better stand still and try the other track first. So we blasted off with “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”, although this time we stood still.
- One problem remained though: during rehearsals we had always ended that particular track with total chaos and tons of feedback. There was no standardized way to end the track any time we rehearsed it. So by the time we came to the end of the song, all three of us kept looking at each other knowing that this will go way wrong.
- The song just dissolved without an end. Pretty lame compared to the chaos and feedback we were used to from the rehearsal place.
The sound effect of a guillotine chopping a head off added to the track just before it dissolves, was deemed an ending cool enough and would save the track.- I can’t remember why we decided on these two songs in particular. But "Live in Sin" and "Dirty Woman" were both sort of fuck-you or up-yours kind of material, and "Satan My Master" and "Witchcraft" I seem to remember re-writing once every second week. "You Don't Move Me" and "Die In Fire" everybody said sounded a bit punk rock, and we didn't want to be thought of as something like that on SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK. Punk was primarily reactionary left-wing stuff in Sweden, and we weren't like that.
- So consequently we were left with “Sacrifice” and “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”. The latter we had worked on a bit and were rather keen on doing.- Perhaps “Sacrifice” was chosen because it was very close to Motörhead both in style and sound, and we were all major Motörhead fans.
Motörhead was a major influence on BATHORY, and when in January 1984 they got to record
for an album for the first time, one of the original tracks chosen was heavily influenced by
the English band that reportedly caused grass to die just by walking over it.
- “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” was always a subject of debate down the rehearsal place because of the double bass drums. I remember most of the times down the rehearsal place, Jonas would play the whole song without any double bass drums at all, out of sheer laziness I guess.- If we now did “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” for the compilation album, both Jonas and myself figured we wouldn’t have to argue about the double bass drum parts anymore. It would all be there on record, once and for all.
The double bass drums would nevertheless be re-recorded a couple of days later at the Stockholm Recording Studio - and this despite the fact Jonas had woken up on the day with a heavy flu - and here both tracks would be mixed. Also added to the tracks at this stage was the sound effect of the guillotine, the witches' laughter and that backward message at the end of “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”. The guitar solo's would also be re-recorded on this occasion.
With two original BATHORY tracks on a compilation album, there was still plenty of material that remained to be recorded in one form or another.
“Satan My master” would be hastily recorded in May 1984 together with “Witchcraft” as a first attempt at exploring the rest of original BATHORY material. This recording would see the light of day fourteen years later as part of the previously unreleased material featured on the JUBILEUM VOLUME III CD.
Previously - in June 1983 - Quorthon had recorded “You don’t move me” and “Die In Fire” live-in-a-rehearsal-place together with two ex-members of a band he had played with prior to forming BATHORY.
These tracks were deemed closer to punk than Metal, and they probably were a bit too much punk when it all came down it. The somewhat poor sound quality of that particular recording may also have been a contributing factor for rejecting these two tracks particularly in January 1983 when pondering over which tracks to record for SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK. For purely historical reasons, the June 1983 recording would nevertheless be featured on the JUBILEUM VOLUME I and JUBILEUM VOLUME II CD's celebrating BATHORY's 10th anniversary.
“Live in Sin” (a.k.a. “Live and Die in Sin”) was one of the very first original BATHORY songs ever written, and although no recording of it exists today, should anybody ever like to hear what it may have sounded like, all you need to do is listen to “Born For Burning” off the second album THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL at roughly half speed. Although the lyrics were later rewritten - to honor a witch burned at the stake in 1591 - the music is reportedly virtually identical. In January 1983 - when talking about which track or tracks to record for SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK - there was no tape available containing a recording of “Live in Sin”, and it was never brought into the discussion.
Consequently "Sacrifice" and “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” were chosen to represent the young BATHORY on the SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation album. "Sacrifice" primarily to honor their main influence Motörhead, and “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” perhaps to still the ever on-going debate about whether or not it should contain double bass drum parts.
The powerful painting chosen as artwork for the
SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation album.
- We were so proud holding that SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation album in our hands first time. We knew none of our friends in bands had ever even been close to record anything properly. There was this other band we knew somewhat that got a record contract around that time, and went on to record an album later. But all the other musicians and bands we knew or would meet up at parties or in clubs, were still mumbling about finding the right style some day, maybe getting a deal next week or boasting about getting to play the Budokan Hall any day now.
- We remembered the many times people had come down our rehearsal place and basically told us what a load of crap and utter noise we were playing, and that we’d never get a contract or a gig. It's true we sucked as musicians, and nothing of what I had written up to that point was truly original but basically Motörhead styled material bordering to traditional Oi-punk.
- And although we hadn't exactly made up a plan or were doing all the right things you were suppose to do in order to get somewhere, or were anyway near going anywhere anyway, those two tracks on that compilation album made quite a difference when we summarized BATHORY's first year of existence.
- We couldn’t have cared less though if people that heard us thought we actually sucked. And it mattered little that we didn't take the band too seriously at that point. We had a ball. We were the guy’s with no ambitions and who didn't spend every evening at home rehearsing our instruments for hours. We were just meeting up two or three times a week playing for our own good fun, sometimes not even picking our instruments up but being quite happy to just kick back in the sofa all evening long, just talking and making jokes. And now we were the one’s who could say that we were a recording band.
Tyfon Records released SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK to the world in March 1984. And through the distribution network of Elektra mainly, it very quickly picked up momentum. The initial edition was a modest 3 000, but very soon a second batch would have to be manufactured. And a third. And a fourth. Within a few months, SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK had become Tyfons' top seller.
An American review for the SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation album from May 1984.
Not only is this possibly the first time the band BATHORY is mentioned in print anywhere, but out of
the five bands appearing on the album, the only act that got the thumbs up was BATHORY.
And within a couple of months of release, the flow of BATHORY fan mail threatened to drench the
Tyfon office. It was clear to everybody involved BATHORY just had to record a full length album.
And the metal attack the Scandinavian way continues well into the 21st century. In 1996 Black Mark re-mastered SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK I and released it in the CD format with the sub-title "Scandinavian metal classics", a series which also included the follow-up volume SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK II, initially recorded/compiled and released in 1985.
Owing much to the fact it captures BATHORY's first spot in a professional studio, SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK I primarily but also SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK II, featuring BATHORY represented with a track off the debut album, are being re-manufactured at a steady pace to this day.
Most copies of the initial SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK I vinyl released in March 1984 - reaching the public via the distribution service of Elektra mainly - would sell in huge figures in West Germany, the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and Switzerland. And from these countries primarily, fan mail would pour in to a unsuspecting small independent Swedish record company. And virtually all the letters were addressed to one and the same act: BATHORY.
The choice was on the fans'. And it has been like that ever since...