No More Mr. Black Metal Bad Guy

"I am not a Viking-Satanist thug nor am I a bloodsucking vampire. I have never eaten a small child, although I admit I was once very close to becoming a teenage alcoholic." Shock quotes a-go-go from Quorthon, mainman with Swedish Doomsters Bathory. Paul Milller discovers a 'sensitive artist' beneath all the Black Metal bluster...

Quorthon Seth, blond, six feet tall and the sole visual proof of the existence of primeval Swedish Black Metal act Bathory, is a man trapped by his track record. As the fire-breathing, leather-studded, jock-strapped Neanderthal with an unhealthy interest in Satan and the Black Arts he single-handedly established Bathory as the final word in Black Metal.
But now, seven years after the 'band' spluttered painfully to life on the long-deleted 'Scandinavian Metal Attack' sampler, Quorthon wants to be taken a little more seriously.
Now aged 24, the portrait of Quorthon as the sensitive artist is not one that's easy to stomach. Andit's difficult to shrug off a fire-breathing past when you're fighting against a record company who still market him as some Viking-Satanist thug, a bevy of press photographers who want him to breathe fire for their cameras and a gaggle of writers who desperately want him to make another crack about slaying lambs onstage for their copy.
Yet five albums into his career Quorthon cuts a more relaxed pose. Whereas up until 1988's 'Blood Fire Death' he felt the need to be involved in every aspect of the Bathory organisation - from album sleeve design to approving biographies to handling the fan mail - he's now content to merely go with the flow.

"Before I wanted complete control, " he explains. "Now I don't care anymore. Five years ago I wanted this thing to be big, to stand there smoking fire onstage in leather and chains and studs, playing Heavy Metal. Nowadays it's not important anymore.
"People have this image of me as some sort of blood-sucking vampire living in a satanic cave in Sweden," he sighs wearily. "I don't spend six months of the year playing guitar, trying to write good lyrics and then having to answer questions like, 'When did you last kill a child ?'."

But aren't you your own worst enemy? Your press releases have always played on the Satanic angle and last time we spoke you boasted of how drunk you were when you recorded the second album, 'The Return'.

"That was very sad. 1985 was a really bad year. I was very close to becoming a teenage alcoholic. I didn't realise until after the recording. There were so many mistakes because of our drinking habits and the bass player was taking drugs at the time too. That was the album I wish we never recorded."

Do you get embarrassed about some of the things you've done in the past?

"Not embarrassed, but I wish I had done them in a more tongue-in-cheek way. With Bathory you could very easily get the idea that we actually were serius, that we in fact did eat children."

1990 is very much a fresh start for Bathory. They have a new label (Noise) and a new album to plug. Entitled 'Hammerheart', it's their sixth offering to date and is further proof of Quorthon's new found calm.
'Hammerheart' builds on the slower, epic feel of one or two of the songs from 'Blood Fire Death', their previous album, coming over like the bastard offspring of Manowar's 'Into Glory Ride' and Hellhammer's 'Apocalyptic Raids'.

"I'm really pleased with it," says Quorthon.
"We knew when we recorded 'Blood Fire Death' that it would be the last LP with a major Speed contribution. 90 per cent of the fans wanted us to go a lot heavier and slower."

Quorthon's faith in the new direction looks to be paying off. Noise have recently revised their estimated sales figure to between 150,000 and 200,000 ('Blood Fire Death' sold around 60,000).
Whilst 'Hammerheart' isn't a concept album in the truest sense, much of the lyrics are about, as Quorthon puts it, "comparing the Viking society with modern society".

"'Baptised In Fire And Blood', for instance, is about a Viking just about to light his father's funeral pyre, thanking him for all the things he has taught him," he explains.
"'Home Of Once Brave' is about Sweden from when the country rose up from the ice age until the day when we gave our country away, politically, ideologically, financially. I'm sure the Swedes had a much better life before Christianity came along".

Bathory have come a long way. Is Quorthon surprised to have gotten this far?

"I am surprised because we have all the odds against us. We are Swedes, we haven't done any world tours, we aren't the prettiest band around, we aren't the best musicians, our LP's don't sound the best and we're not on the biggest record company in the world".
"I would be very surprised if I can make my dream come true and put out a Bathory 10 year commemorative record in three years".

Kerrang! magazine, interviewed by Paul Miller 1990.
Provided by Emmett Rees.
Taken from Twilight web-site.

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