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‘Under the Sign of the Black Mark’ 25th Anniversary: ‘Swedish Death Metal’ Author Picks the 5 Best Bathory Songs

Bazillion Points

If you’ve clicked on this post, there’s a good chance you already know who Daniel Ekeroth is.

The 40-year-old Swede is the brains behind Swedish Death Metal, one of the most essential books ever written about extreme music. Noisecreep even included it in our ‘Top 10 Heavy Metal Books‘ feature last year. In early 2012, Ekeroth listed his favorite Swedish death metal albums of 2011 for Noisecreep and now he’s back with another gem.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the release of Under the Sign of the Black Mark, Bathory‘s seminal 1987 album. One of the most influential records of the ’80s, it’s impossible to measure the importance Under the Sign of the Black Mark has had on the development of black metal in the last two-plus decades.

In honor of the anniversary, Ekeroth has compiled a list of his five favorite Bathory tracks.

5 Best Bathory Songs by Daniel Ekeroth

“Oden’s Ride Over Nordland/A Fine Day to Die” From Blood Fire Death (1988)

“OK, I must make this clear at once: you cannot separate the intro with the song here. Capiche? This is an entity, and one of utter perfection at that. “Oden Ride Over Nordland” is one of the best intros of all time, and especially the part when it seems the guitar will stop…just to begin again is magical! When the actual song kicks in, with Quorthon’s trademark screams, I get goosebumps all around. From there on, this is just perfection. One of the best songs ever written, period. I want it played at my funeral.”

“Blood Fire Death” From Blood Fire Death (1988)

“As majestic as Bathory ever got, or any other band for that matter. The bending of the string in the main riff is just mesmerizing, and Quorthon’s vocals are delivered in that awesome limbo between screams and spoken word. If Bathory was the masters of atmosphere, this is their masterpiece. You can’t argue with this song. Obey.”

“Women of Dark Desires” From Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)

“I always had a soft spot for this backbeat song, and it remains my favorite from Under the Sign of the Black Mark. It’s basically a very simple song, but the break with the toms and the slower tempo on the choruses makes it irresistible. Also, the subtle but ingenious use of keyboards takes this one into another dimension.”

“Call From the Grave” From Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)

“This is probably the best of the heavy tracks from Under the Sign of the Black Mark, and one of Bathory’s most haunting songs. One of Quorthon’s best vocal performances makes this into a transcending experience. This will play at Tyrant guitar player Peter Bjärgö’s funeral-to have composed the soundtracks for two funerals is quite the accomplishment, isn’t it?”

“War” From Bathory (1984)

“I just had to choose one of Bathory’s filthy heavy metal/punk hybrids for this list. This one won by a narrow margin to similar beasts as “Die In fire” and “Burning Leather.” You just have to adore its intense mania. Early Bathory have a special kind of attraction, since no band has ever created quite the same breed of manic adrenalin-metal on the edge.”

Learn more about Ekeroth’s Swedish Death Metal book at Bazillion Points.

Top 10 Heavy Metal Books


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