Power Metal

Stranger Than Strange

Quorthon uncloaks his secrets in an exclusive interview...

Bathory thrives on mystery. Let's face it, any group that's released three albums and hasn't yet told anyone exactly who is in the band likes to play their rock and roll cards close to their chest. But we may be at the dawning of a new day for this Swedish Thrash Metal unit. Band leader Quorthon (spelled Quarthon in the original interview-EM) - the only member of Bathory yet identified -feels that with the success of the group's latest LP, Under the sigh of the black mark (the original interview forgot the 'under' before the title-EM), it's time for the band to come out of the proverbial closet and reveal more about their true identity.

"Many people have stated the belief that I am Bathory" he said. "I do not deny that earlier in our career I played most of the instruments on our records and produced much of the material. But now that we are planning to tour, it was necesserary to reveal that Bathory is indeed a band. We have added two members, whose names are unimportant at the moment. But I promise those who have followed our career that when they see us live, they won't be disappointed".

Back in 1983, Bathory - or shall we just say Quorthon - recorded two tracks for the Swedish metal compilation LP, Scandinavian Metal Attack. The Bathory tracks- especially The return of the darkness and evil (this interviewer made some titles spelling mistakes-EM) - made an immediate impression on European thrash followers, and the compilation's owner agreed to finance the group's first LP, simply titled Bathory. That album's unrelenting power and bizarre lyrical imagery made it an instant cult sensation and attracted a great deal of interest in the secretive act. To add to the mystery, Quorthon began doing press interviews cloaked in black, wearing sunglasses and a hat, and revealing nothing about himself or his band. Today, thankfully, he's seen that such an approach is a gimmick that can run out of steam.

"Back in the early days, maintening secrecy about myself and the band was all-important," he said. "But I discovered that fans were taking my secrecy the wrong way. They were making me out as some sort of divine, mystical character when in reality I wanted them to see I was just like them. I am a very boring person away from the band. Without my music, I'm just a faceless individual who only comes alive as part of Bathory."

Following the release of the band's first LP in 1984, Quorthon disappeared from sight until The Return emerged in 1985. Even Quorthon admits the album lacked the intensity of the group's debut. And though the production on the LP was sparkling compared to the Bathory LP, he now states there's no substitute forquality material - which was missing on The Return.

"I hate to admit it, but one of the reasons The Return wasn't a very good album was that the people involved with the record - most especially myself - were drinking quite heavily at the time," Quorthon said. "We were just trying to play as fast as we could, and in the process we had neither the energy of the first album, nor the power we have now acheived on Under the sign of the black mark".

On their latest album, Bathory has changed their musical philosophy. By elaborating their song concepts and slowing down their basic approach, Quorthon has taken the band out of the thrash camp and moved in a more mainstream (mainstream? really?-EM) metal direction. Songs like the eight-minute opus, Enter the eternal fire, perfectly reflects the band's new attitude where speed is no longer used as a substitue for talent. Today, Quorthon seems determinated to place Bathory's thrash attitudes in a more traditional metal setting. The results, he hopes, will lead the band to the top of the metal mountain (it surely did-EM).

"I reject the term 'death metal' and I don't like being called 'thrash' or 'speed'," he said. "We certainly still play speed metal at times, but there's agreat deal more melody in the music as well. We have a band now, and soon I will lift the mystery as to who exactly is in the group. But for now, fans should content themselves with the music. Bathory is a band that is designed to give pleasure. Our interests are simple - sex, horror and the exploration of the dark side of life. It's just a way for me to let off a little steam, after all, this is supposed to be fun, right?".

Bathory Interview by Peter McManus - Power Metal Magazine, 1987
Transcription by Eric Massicotte for RADICART entertainment 12-3-1998
Taken from Twilight web-site.

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