Greatest Debuts: Bathory – Bathory (1984).

( So, back in 2021, we featured three albums to check out before Darkthrone released Eternal Hails….Now we’ll look at a classic album from a band considered to be an inspiration on Darkthrone’s early sound. This is the 1984 self-titled debut by Bathory.

Greatest Debuts: Bathory – Bathory (1984).


What is Bathory?

Bathory was a one-man act by late Swedish musician Quorthon. Up until the 1988 release Under the Sign of the Black Mark, Bathory played exclusively black metal and is considered—along with acts Venom, Hellhammer, Sabbat (JP), and Bulldozer—to be pioneers of black metal in its first wave. With Under the Sign of the Black Mark, the band began forging what would become Viking metal.

With this debut album, you can hear the influences of thrash and Venom’s releases but Quorthon’s faster playing and vocals really helped in establishing more of what we would hear out of the Norwegian-heavy second wave in the early 1990s.

Perhaps we’ll get into a “Best of the Decade” for the first three albums from the 1980s but let’s focus on the debut because it’s a strong album and a pioneering one.

A-Side of Bathory

Now, this album is just under 27 minutes, so it goes by fast and has this nasty sound and production I like. By 1980s standards, the production—compared to larger metal acts—it’s not bad but not on par with the large commercial releases. Again, this is a debut from a young band playing an abrasive style. Factor in the lyrical content, very clean production wouldn’t really fit this release.

An instrumental or ambient track serves as both the intro and outro here. The original just eight tracks but the version I got has 10. On the A-side, we have five tracks with one being the introduction “Storm of Damnation”. I typically don’t get into intros, outros, or instrumentals. It fits the atmosphere of the album, though.

The meat of the A-side and B-side are the eight tracks making up the bulk of the album. “Hades”, “Reaper”, “Necromansy”, and “Sacrifice” make up the stronger tracks on this album but I wouldn’t say either are the strongest track on the release. I consider “Hades” to be the opening track but the tunes “Necromansy” and “Sacrifice” are two songs that really ride.

Of those two, “Sacrifice” is the rockier of the two—or rather, it’s as rocky as songs about Satan, evil and sacrifices can be. That’s another thing about this album, it’s black metal in the truly old-school sense with lyrics that based around dated, simplistic views of evil and depictions of Satan and devil worship.

“Reaper” holds the honor of being the strongest track on the A-side. It rips and rides and could’ve easily been the opening track—and a ridiculously strong one.

Strongest Tracks: Necromansy, Reaper**, Sacrifice*


Second verse, same as the first. These five tracks are still decent but the B-side has two tracks that sometimes require multiple listens for me to just really get into. “In Conspiracy with Satan” and “Raise the Dead” don’t hit on the first listen like “Reaper” or “Sacrifice” but they fit the atmosphere of the album. Now, the stronger tracks of “Armageddon” and “War” slam with “War” being my favorite track on Bathory and the strongest tune on the release. Some might go with “Reaper”—which slams—and that would be a pick worthy of the spot but “War” just really puts the bow on this debut.

I tend to rearrange tracklists to see if the album could’ve been a different party with the same songs. In Bathory’s case, I typically got a strong A-side that rocked hard as hell because “Reaper” and “War” were there. Go figure.

Overall, I’d say that this was a very good debut and Bathory got better with each release in the 1980s. An even better debut would’ve been The Return… but that album came about for reason. If the two album swapped release dates, Bathory would sound like a step back or stripping of established trappings.

“Hades” was a solid opener that lets you know what kind of party this is going to be. That’s the job of the opening track, after all. As I said before, “Reaper” would’ve been a stronger opening track but “Hades” does the job.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.