The importance of this band is beyond words, and their discography is quite an unbalanced path, containing the best as well as the worst one can come up with. Quorthon kept experimenting, he re-worked his sound all the time, he played various styles in his own way and at times it worked perfectly, while at other parts, miserably fell of the tracks. This is the work of the main band of one of the most significant and unquiet artists in the history of metal.

Hammerheart (1990)

In an old interview, Quorthon said he was going to create something more atmospheric with his next album, with long compositions and clean vocals even. He was talking about Hammerheart, but I don’t think anyone knew at the time the magnitude, the level of brilliance, how ground breaking the result was going to ultimately be. I have never thought of a different album as the best by Bathory. All the viking metal records he released next are compared based on that. Every viking metal album released is inferior to this monstrous masterpiece. Quorthon touched the heavens and granted us with one of the best metal albums in history, a landmark in it’s genre and a totally captivating, memorable and intense listen every listener must experience. [6/6]

Blood Fire Death (1988)

It is the album that inspired Marduk to release a concept trilogy based on each word of it’s title with Nightwing, Panzer Division and La Grande Danse Macabre. Among many discussions and debates about which album of the early discography of Bathory is the best, there is no clear winner, but in my humble opinion, there clearly should be Blood Fire Death. This record shows stunning improvement in all sections. It keeps the violent and misanthropic element of the early records, but this time the ideas are stellar, totally epic through and through. The lyrics move towards Scandinavian mythology more and they are much better, it has a spectacular introduction of horses and thunders that opens way to “A Fine Day to Die”, one of the best Bathory tracks ever made. The album has no bad line, I can’t think of a bad moment, it really tops all earlier efforts by Quorthon. The first four Bathory albums are essential lessons for every metalhead, just like that. [5.5/6]

Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)

In terms of black metal, things exploded with this grim gem. The album contains classic only tracks that have also stood the test of time. “Enter the Eternal Fire” is a hint of what Bathory would later become when they entered / created the viking metal realm, “Woman of Dark Desires” is highly addictive with it’s more traditional structure, and if you’re bored with the middle paced “Call from the Grave”, wait until you hear a part where he covers is Chopin’s Marche Funebre towards the end. “Of Doom”, “Massacre”, “Equimanthorn”, “Chariots of Fire” (just listen to these tracks and keep in mind the date it was recorded) are full of speed and rage and show pieces started getting together and how extreme metal subgenres were born during those days. I would not object if someone asked “what is black metal?” and you gave them this album as an answer. Only other Bathory albums can compete with this. [5/6]

Bathory (1984)

It’s the forbidden seed, from which the black metal scene blossomed the years that followed. In an impulsive, passion driven manner, with it’s iconic cover, Quorthon lays the foundations and creates one straightforward, scratchy riff after the other, contributing to some of the most popular tracks ever written in the genre. Hundreds of bands name it as a main influence, hundreds of bands have covered stuff from here. One of the classic metal albums, a must in every collection and as it is admired by young fans today, imagine the turmoil it caused back in it’s time, when underground metal didn’t have distinct boundaries yet. “War”, “Reaper”, “Sacrifice”, “Hades”, the bells on “Raise the Dead”, everything in it’s pure, primitive and unfiltered form. [5/6]

Blood on Ice (1996)

This may be my personal favorite Bathory album and I know how unpopular that opinion is. I believe Blood on Ice is slightly overlooked when talking about Quorthon viking metal albums, maybe because it was a follow-up of wrongdoings, but most of the tracks in this album are really good. It doesn’t lack the epicness or the compositional interest and helped convert the feeling that Bathory might have just lost they way after 1991, not to mention that it contains some of the best moments of Quorthon’s clean voice. People talking about a Twilight of the Gods b-side, really? Not at all. [4.5/6]

Twilight of the Gods (1991)

The second album forged in the new, Viking era of Bathory. While walking hand in hand with Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods is surely a bit underwhelming compared to it’s predecessor. It’s slower and focuses on epic atmospheric patterns even more, reducing any black or thrash metal elements to zero. Plenty of melodic singing and acoustics, the record flows nicely and doesn’t bother, I don’t know why but I don’t come back to this specific release when I think of Bathory or when I’m in the mood to listen to them. But that’s just me. I know and I acknowledge that it is regarded by many as perfect (probably is) and it’s not at all boring or poorly written. [4/6]

Nordland I (2002) & Nordland II (2003)

I chose to write one text for both these albums because to me, they are very similar and at about the same level. The last Bathory recordings give a warm and sweet closure to the discography of this massive band, playing viking metal the way they did when they sky rocketed to the top a decade earlier. Finally, there are some remarkable compositions that bring back the glory of the earlier albums, in both Nordland I and II I have favorite Bathory tracks among everything ever composed. Quorthon planned to release more Nordland albums but we all know how that ended. In Nordland II, the same twenty five second outro that had been used for the first four albums is used, and for some reason it feels good.

Nordland I: [3.5/6]
Nordland II: [4/6]

The Return….. (1985)

Despite it’s filthy beauty, The Return….. is to me the frailest album in Bathory’s early catalog. Only one year after the debut, the tracks already get slightly darker, featuring vocal experimentation (deep growls in “Born for Burning” or the more occult singing in “Reap of Evil”) that surely was a source of influence for later extreme metal bands. The album is indeed a great listen and ahead of it’s time. However, I think the issue is that the ideas were good but the execution could be better as a whole, but I know you enjoy it’s production / techical flaws because that’s what it is. While it shouldn’t be overshadowed by “Bathory” completely, it’s not as memorable or exciting. [3.5/6]

Requiem (1994)

Requiem is a simple album to comprehend. It just fires aggressive thrash metal all the way, from start to finish, with standard guitar playing that contains heavy riffs, fast solos, as well as a harsh voice to go along with it. Does it have a leg to stand on? I would lean towards no, because even though it’s a fun listen and would surely be checked but thrash metal fans, it musically is underneath the good albums of the 80’s. Not one of Quorthon’s shining moments but not a blunder either, I believe “Requiem” is mentioned only as Bathory’s thrash metal approach and not as a solid effort. I would listen to it, but why not go with furious, amazing albums by thrash metal bands before it? [3/6]

Destroyer of Worlds (2001)

After the disaster of Octagon and a five year absence, Destroyer of Worlds does not hold the merit we would like it to possess. There are thirteen tracks and less than half of them worth a listen (actually, stick only to “Lake of Fire” and “Ode”), because for the most part, Quorthon probably just didn’t have enough inspiration for something notable at the time. One could say that he came back to his senses and returned to his own, kind of epic feeling (at least for half the album), but the compositions cannot win the hearts of the listeners, especially after albums like Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods. He tried to experiment with a style of groove metal as well, which holds a significant part of the album and that didn’t work out either. [2/6]

Octagon (1995)

Bathory is one of the bands with a very clear worst album. We all more or less agree and it’s no interest that an album like Octagon is a potent failure that makes you wonder, what is this album doing among the other albums by Bathory. Horrible production, bad musicianship, lack of focus and tracks that are just stupid. And don’t even get me started about the childish lyrics… Almost unbelievable that they came from the same mind that wrote some of the greatest lines in underground metal just a few years back. To me, there is no track to suggest, not even one good moment. Definitely Quorthon’s rock bottom here. Half a point for the cover only. [0.5/6]