BMR: Seeds of Darkness (BATHORY, HELLHAMMER, CELTIC FROST)
For today's column, we are taking a look at the first recordings by three groups that were absolutely crucial (whether because of sound, lyrics, visual aesthetic or any and all combinations of those) to the creation of the genre known as Black Metal.
To start off, we are going back in time to what might be the single most important album in the history of the sound. In 1984, when thrash was in its younger phase, and death metal was a thing of the future... across the world, in the country of Sweden, a certain man by the name of Tomas Forsberg (forever known as Quorthon by millions of metal fans the world over) released an eponymous album from his new group, Bathory. (I use the word "group" loosely, as it was pretty much a one-man project until Quorthon's untimely death in 2004). To put it simply: Black metal was born on this album. From the goat head on the cover to the overpowering blasphemy n Satanism in the lyrics to the cold n shrieking voices to the buzzing guitar lacerations to the raw, underground-as-fuck sounding production... the genre started here.
SIDENOTE: Quorthon has the distinction of more-or-less single-handedly creating TWO different metallic genres, the other being Viking metal (which would start to surface on Bathory's fourth album).
Another hugely important band was, of course, Switzerland's Celtic Frost. However, it is impossible to discuss their role in black metal genesis without mentioning Hellhammer.
Before Celtic Frost, Tom G. Warrior and his crew were pounding away in this legendary, albeit very short lived (2 years) collective. Hellhammer only ever put out one "official" release, which was the Apocalyptic Raids EP. We are enjoying what came before that, which was their demos, all of which were recorded in 1983, and remastered and re-released on two CDs under the name of Demon Entrails in 2007.
The first disc is comprised of the Satanic Rites demo which is VERY Frost-like. Fans of the first CF album (which I'm sure everyone reading this is) will really dig this.
The second disc contains both the Death Fiend and Triumph of Death demos which, although only recorded a few months prior, were about 1000 times more noisy and primitive, with a sloppy, heavy punk vibe. But it's all good. They were just teenagers doing what they loved, pushing the boundaries, having no clue just how important they would be in the development of heavy music...
And then came the milestonic, 1984 debut album from Celtic Frost, titled Morbid Tales.
Forming mere months after the demise of Hellhammer, the Frost sound exists somewhere between traditional heavy metal groove and the "chunkier" tendencies of death metal. However, it was the lyrical subject matter, visual aesthetic and the fearless disregard of criticism that made the band so important to the development of black metal. And while some of their later releases embraced more unconventional, even avant gardish, musical elements... Morbid Tales is viewed by diehard fans as the most "pure" Frost record. Have a listen and judge for yourself. The fact that the band's songs have been covered by thrash (like Anthrax), death (like Obituary) AND black (like Marduk and Black Anvil) metal acts is indicative of their importance and power. So, sit back, crank it up, prepare your best Tom G. Warrior trademark grunt (UGH!) or yell (HEEEYYYY!) and enjoy...
Thanks for reading,
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