Metal Legacies

Today In Metal History: Bathory’s ‘Blood Fire Death’ Came Out 25 Years Ago



Blood Fire Death‘s lasting legacy of influence cannot be overestimated, and its courageous experiments set the stage for what many consider Bathory’s finest hour, the magnificent Hammerheart. — Eduardo Rivadavia, All Music Guide

It wasn’t until 1990 that the music of Bathory reached me and my buds, and only much later that we’d register its significance. That year, college radio hipped us to Hammerheart, but soon we’d find that like any masterpiece, that album benefitted from a running start. For Bathory and Hammerheart, that penultimate moment was 1988’s Blood Fire Death, a mark of many firsts for this hall-of-fame act: BFD found mastermind Quorthon singing in a clean voice, it departed from demo-level presentation for a pro production, and most of all, its wild arrangements launched a thousand ships each bearing a modern black metal band. Blood Fire Death was the beginning of something.

But back then, we considered Quorthon just another cutting-edge guy doing new, weird stuff. (We chalked up his intensity to y’know being from Scandanavia.) There was little hint that a movement would spring from BFD and Hammerheart, from its complex expressions of the ancient and the timeless, from its overwhelming cacophony. However, as the cliché goes, here today you’ll be most impressed by your certainty that BFD can hang with any album since. What’s more, its power — and that of future Bathory jamz — seems to grip its genre in a stasis, a traditionalism, that today serves as a setting for the Bathory crown jewels. But BFD‘s personality is so tangible that it requires no context; that means it can live in any real music dude’s collection and rank high on any list of world-changing albums. Crank it up!

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