Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Black Metal History Month : Bathory's "Under the Sign of the Black Mark"




Break out your matches it's time to torch churches as I think we have direct link to the black metal sound of today first from the first song of Bathory's " 1987 album "Under the Sign of the Black Mark". Blast beats and all . The vocals are way more rasp and wretched than any thing Tom Warrior grunted out. Now does that make this a good album? We shall see as we put this one under the microscope and see how well it stands the test of time. The keyboards paved the way for early Dimmu and help switch up the dulling pound  of the drums that gets rather repetitious . I have always like the rather simple phrasing of the catchy chorus to "Woman of Dark Desires". Even more melody is injected into the darker and more atmospheric "Call From the Grave".

Things get angrier on "Equimentthron". Then comes the sound that influenced bands like Primordial. It has a epic  majesty to the way the chords are allowed to ring out.This is a much reduced speed than the previous song, but much more powerful.by "Eternal Flame it's back to the blast beats, the vocals take on the kind of croak that Immortal imitates to this day. "13 Candles" exudes more of it's influence on what we think of as pagan metal, the sung vocals sit back into the mix.The riff is simple almost , like the punk rock rawness of early Celtic Frost. Though when the screams start it pounds even more heavily.

This is the root of music I love so I can appreciate  the elements that provide the inspiration, however , the drums sound like shit and the production over all is iffy at best, sometimes it does touch on atmospheric moment in the winds of the heaviness not unlike the early Darkthrone it inspired, but it take the later albums like "Hammerheart "to win me over, I'll round it up to a7 as it is way ahead of it's time.Give me Quorthon's more epic Lord of the Rings styled albums any day ending in y. He does the whole pagan/ folk metal thing right with a darkness the bands that came after who are more preoccupied with swilling beer never have been able to obtain.

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