Top 10 Bathory Songs

Bathory Songs

Photo: Bathory Castle – PeterVrabel -Shutterstock

Our top 10 Bathory songs list looks at the body of work of a Swedish band renowned for its massive impact on the black metal scene. Seventeen-year-old Quorthon thought it was fun to have an ensemble where he could express his black metal ideas. The result was one of the most iconic Swedish black metal acts of all time, Bathory. While the band might have been largely associated with black metal, Bathory was also a significant pillar in the Viking metal, death metal, and thrash metal scene.

The band’s inception happened in 1983, with Quorthon lauded as the man behind the idea of Bathory’s formation. Other founders of the band include drummer Jonas Åkerlund and bassist Frederick Melander. The three later added vocalist Björn Kristensen on the vocals. Initially, the band went under different monikers, after which it settled for Bathory. Quorthon cited that his tour at the London Dungeon inspired the band’s name.

However, original member Jonas Åkerlund revealed that the new name was inspired by “Countess Bathory,” a song by the English metal act Venom. Over Bathory’s two-decade career, Quorthon remained the band’s primary lyricist. While some of the band’s songs might have featured Satanism and evil, Bathory’s lyrical themes later evolved to Norse mythology, tales, society, and death.

Bathory’s first recording was a compilation album Scandinavian Metal Attack (1984). The album featured other Nordic bands, including Oz, Zero Nine, Spitfire, and Trash. “The Return of Darkness and Evil” and “Sacrifice” were the two recordings by Bathory released on the compilation album. The two songs created some attention towards Bathory’s career, resulting to Tyfon Grammofon asking the band to release a studio album.

Within no time, the band released its eponymous debut album in 1984. The album has been lauded as one of the pioneer black metal LPs. The band recorded Bathory (1984) as a three-piece act. While Quorthon handled the vocals and the guitar, Stefan Larsson was on the drums and Rickard Bergman on the bass guitar. The album’s production work was split between Quorthon and his father, Börje Forsberg. Some of the best Bathory songs from the album include “Armageddon,” “Reaper,” and “Necromansy.”

The next three LPs, The Return… … (1985), Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987), and Blood Fire Death (1988), primarily focused on the black metal and death metal sounds. However, the album had some elements of Viking metal. Bathory’s fifth LP, Hammerheart (1990), saw the band fully transition to Viking metal. “Valhalla,” “Home of Once Brave,” and “One Rode to Asa Bay” are some of the acclaimed Viking metal tracks.

After Hammerheart (1990), the band released seven more albums, the last being Nordland II (2003). Blood on Ice (1996) is the last album Bathory released with a lineup consisting of other artists other than Quorthon. Quorthon played the guitar on this album while Kothaar played the bass guitar and Vvornth played the drums.

Quorthon released three LPs alone, handling all the instruments and vocals. His solo first release for the band was Destroyer of the Worlds (2001). The album saw Bathory take on thrash metal blended, but the band soon resurfaced to its popular Viking metal genre. Unfortunately, the death of Quorthon put to an end the band’s musical pursuit in 2004. Here are the top 10 Bathory songs of all time.

#10 – Under the Runes

Ushering us to the top 10 Bathory songs list is the intoxicating hit “Under the Runes.” The song is featured on the second pure Viking metal LP Twilight of the Gods (1991). “Under the Runes” alludes to a fight between two Vikings. Each of these Vikings are not sure about victory in this battle. Therefore, each of them gives it all to ensure that they either win or lose honorably.

#9 – Ring of Gold

“Ring of Gold” is one of the songs whose every single effort is credited to Bathoryy’s founder, the late Quorthon. The song is featured on his second album as a solo artist in Bathory, Nordland 1 (2002). “Ring of Gold” is a phenomenal track that alludes to a love narrative about a Viking warrior. Sadly, the warrior has to leave his beloved girlfriend now that springtime is on. This is to accompany other men to war. However, before leaving, he plans on how to meet up with the lady. During the meet up, he offers her a “Ring of Gold” to cement their love. The gift is left to the lady to remind her of the warrior’s unwavering love when he is away.

#8 – Born for Burning

Coming in at number eight on our top 10 Bathory songs is the pulsating hit “Born for Burning.” The song is featured on Bathory’s sophomore LP, The Return… … (1985). “Born for Burning” was penned by Quorthon, with its lyrics alluding to the killing of a sorceress through burning. Quorthon revealed that the song is inspired and dedicated to the prominent Dutch sorceress who lived in the sixteenth century.

#7 – The Woodwoman

“The Woodwoman” is a ravishing and pleasant-sounding hit from the band’s ninth LP, Blood on Ice (1996). Quorthon showcases his uplifting guitar skills and remarkable vocals on this Viking metal track. The song alludes once more to a sorceress whose offer might feel quite enchanting, but the price remains wanting. Her offer is the capacity to absorb all the wounds in exchange for the subject character’s heart.

#6 – Valhalla

The sixth track on our top 10 Bathory songs is the anthemic hit “Valhalla.” “Valhalla” is one of the most acclaimed Viking metal ballads from Bathory’s fifth LP Hammerheart (1990). The song praises how Vikings implore their gods while following the stipulated doctrines for an afterlife in “Valhalla.” Hammerheart (1990) was the band’s first album to only feature Viking metal songs.

#5 – Armageddon

Our number five track on the top 10 Bathory songs list, “Armageddon,” takes us back to the genesis of the band’s success in the metal scene. “Armageddon” is an alluring hit from the band’s eponymous debut album Bathory (1984). Bathory (1984) features ten songs; five on the ‘Darkness’ side and five on the ‘Evil’ side.

“Armageddon” is one of the tracks delivered on the ‘Evil’ side. Quorthon is the man behind the guitars and vocals on this release. He also penned this track and all songs from the band’s debut album.

#4 – The Lake

“The Lake” is among the final songs the band released as a three-piece band before Quorthon played all the instruments and vocals for the band. Quorthon also penned the lyrics to this track whose home is Blood on Ice (1996). The song’s lyrics allude to a lake where Odin threw one of his eyes.

Amazingly, the lake is the custodian of all the world’s knowledge. While throwing his eye into the lake, Odin intended to share its wisdom and foresight. However, the main character throws both of his eyes into the lake. This means that he gets to take all the knowledge and vision from the lake.

#3 – Call from the Grave

The third song on our top 10 Bathory songs list is the grooving hit “Call from the Grave.” “Call from the Grave” is one of the best Bathory songs from the band’s third LP, Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987). The song’s lyrics allude to a dying being buried in a lost tomb. His suffering makes him wish that his death approaches faster owing to his suffering.

#2 – A Fine Day to Die

“A Fine Day to Die” is a timeless metal ballad from the band’s Blood Fire Death (1988). The song has its lyrics penned by Quorthon. However, Quorthon takes some lines from “Cassilda’s Song.” “Cassilda’s Song” is featured on the short stories book The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers. The song’s lyrics also seem to draw some inspiration from the Bible’s book of Deuteronomy, Chapter eleven.

#1 – One Rode to Asa Bay

Number one on our top 10 Bathory songs list is the stunning track “One Rode to Asa Bay.” Featured on the band’s fifth LP, Hammerheart (1990), “One Rode to Asa Bay” is the band’s most popular and acclaimed song of all time. The song’s lyrics allude to the attack of Scandinavia by Christianity, taking Asa Bay as a fictional place.

“One Rode to Asa Bay” shows how the missionaries eroded the Old Norse religious traditions. The song has been lauded by many as one of the ideal lyrical successes by Quorthon. Quorthon penned the song’s lyrics at the height of his fascination with pagan mythology, which was fuelled by his resentment towards Christianity.

Top 10 Bathory Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2021

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