The Countess' Favorite Band Lives on
CoC talks to the legendary Quorthon
by: Adam Wasylyk
A band that needs very little introduction, Bathory's influence on metal today is undeniable. With their contemporaries, bands like Celtic Frost and Possessed, they've carved a path of aggressive, hateful music that bands still follow and adhere to today. But unlike the aforementioned bands, Bathory aren't done quite just yet. Not by a long shot. Bathory's music has been well documented over the years, from its early primitive black metal to its intermediate Viking metal period to its latter day speed/thrash metal. The Jubileum compilation albums (I and II, released in '92 and '93 respectively) showcased material from all of Bathory's albums up to _Twilight of the Gods_, accompanied by rare or previously unreleased material. Bathory's newest release, _Jubileum Volume III_, contains material from the past five years (off _Requiem_, _Octagon_ and _Blood on Ice_) along with more unreleased and rare material, the highlights being "Satan My Master" and "Witchcraft", two tracks recorded in the early '80s that never found their way onto any official Bathory recording. Like the two previous compilations, _Jubileum Volume III_ features music from each stage of the band's existence (black, thrash, Viking, etc.) which fans should definitely take the time to check out, and gives the uninitiated a way to hear why this band is a legend to many. Quorthon is a bit restless as of late. Along with watching hockey on TV, which he can't do without, he informs me that he, along with the rest of Sweden, is "buried under six feet of snow". He also lets me know that this release has been one of the less promoted albums in Bathory's history, so I got the impression that he really wanted to get all of his points across and give me the full story on what's happening with the band. Here's what he had to say.

CoC: Tell me about the new Bathory release, _Jubileum Volume III_, and what your thoughts are on it.

Quorthon: When the first two Jubileum albums came out, they were to celebrate Bathory's ten year existence. We thought, at the time, "To celebrate ten years, wouldn't it be great to put out some sort of compilation album?" It was also a good idea to put it out at that time, as I didn't have too many ideas for the next Bathory album, and my mind was also in the solo project as well. Now celebrating fifteen years, we're doing basically the same thing with the exception being we're not looking as far back as we did with the first two Jubileum albums; we're just picking tracks from the past five years. I dug deep in the archives to find some demos and stuff that were worth releasing. There were two tracks there recorded before the first album was even recorded, in a proper studio. We figured that the fans would really like to hear what we sounded like before anyone had heard of us. So that's what the album's about; to celebrate fifteen years and give our loyal fans a peak into what we've done the past five years and what we did before with some unreleased stuff.

CoC: With the release of this record, does that mean that the Bathory vaults are now officially clean, or have you left room for a Volume IV?

Q: Well, there's plenty of shit down there! <laughs> We're just sort of airing what you could call the least "stenchy" parts. Whenever I talk about a new album I say "the new slab of shit" and people were getting the idea that we thought that Bathory was just shit. Well, the archive is of course full of shit! I don't know whether the fans would really like to hear the black metal album that was never released, the Viking album that was never released... There was an album recorded between two other albums that was never released, there's a lot of projects on tape that were never released. Of course, if there would be a substantial amount of people in another five or ten years who would like to hear that, it wouldn't cost much to put it down on disk.

CoC: Could you go into some detail on the tracks off _Jubileum..._, like personal highlights or why some of the tracks were chosen?

Q: Actually, the fans are responsible for the track listing. For the first two [volumes], what we did was ask a lot of people whose opinion we trusted, people who wrote us who we were sure weren't just trying to flatter us and tell us that everything we do is great. We asked them if they'd like to sit down and check out the albums and write down which five or six tracks they'd like to hear on a future compilation album. We did just about the same thing this time. They picked their favorite tracks off the last album and [tracks from] the last five years, and I filled out the rest of the CD by including six unreleased tracks, some of which were recorded during the _Requiem_ and _Octagon_ recording sessions.

CoC: It has been a few years since Bathory released new material, since the last two releases have been _Blood on Ice_ [originally recorded in 1988/89] and now _Jubileum Volume 3_. What do you have in store for fans as far as newly recorded material?

Q: Actually, someone just told me recently it has been three years since anyone heard anything new from Bathory. I can't believe it has been three years, as it's felt like just one year. But sitting down and thinking about it, I've realized that I've been doing so many different things and being involved in so many projects that have nothing to do with the side project or Bathory. Probably what I needed was to get away from it all. You need to feel aggressive and the hunger when you write music, and that hasn't been the case for the past three years, so we said "The hell with it! We won't do anything until we feel that hunger again." As far as material for the next album, I have a bunch of songs, probably a hundred, which we have been working on to a certain extent. We haven't added vocals or guitar solos or anything, just [outlined] the basic tracks. And they range from everything; from the most hell-paced stuff we've ever done to some experimental stuff. So as far as the next album [goes], it's hard to put a finger on it and say this is exactly what it's going to be about; probably a combination of all sorts of stuff.

CoC: Did I hear you right? A hundred songs?

Q: Yeah. Three years... a hundred songs. Sure.

CoC: So, specifically, how does the new material compare musically to _Octagon_ [Bathory's last official studio album]?

Q: I'm going to talk to a lot of fans whose opinion I trust, through e-mail and letters, and try to make out, at street level, what the fans would probably want to hear. Because every time Bathory release an album, 50% of the record buyers will be disappointed because they'd want the black, Satanic shit, hell-paced stuff. And the other 50% would want the Viking, slow, heavy with sound effects and twelve minute songs. Regardless of what the Bathory album sounded like, it doesn't feel good to have 50% of your potential record buyers being disappointed when you've been working for a couple of months in the studio. So the combination of both sides of Bathory would be a very good solution, but with a new 21st century sound or approach to the material.

CoC: Any idea on when it could be released?

Q: The first time Black Mark was making it public that a new Bathory album was going to be released was in August ['98], then they said October, then January, February and now March or May. That's just another way for them to say that Bathory hasn't entered the studio yet! <laughs> Winter isn't a great time to record an album, since I would be riding my bike to the studio, as I don't have a car, so the Summertime is more likely, or a place where we wouldn't have to spend a lot of money.

CoC: Has an album title been chosen?

Q: We had an album title during the summer, _Nemesis_, but then I found out the ex-Slayer drummer produced an album with the same title [referring to Grip Inc.]. So the new title is _Destroyer of Worlds_. I read these science fiction items that laid as a foundation to the manuscript for the movie "Independence Day". It was also from a Hindu script; when Oppenheimer constructed the atomic bomb, so it exploded in the Nevada Desert, he said "I have become death", [which] is also from that Hindu script.

CoC: Since the last time we talked there have been a couple of Bathory tribute albums released. One being the Metal Invader tribute _Hellas Salute the Vikings_ and Hellspawn Records' _In Conspiracy With Satan_. I was wondering if you had a chance to hear either and what you thought of them.

Q: I heard the Greek one [referring to _HStV_]. I found it very, very exciting to hear the bands play Bathory material. I was very surprised and happy that [the bands] sat down and worked their guts out to make it as close as possible and yet be their personal interpretation of the material. The [Hellspawn] one I haven't heard yet, but I understand there is some court stuff going on between Black Mark and the persons responsible for the _In Conspiracy With Satan_ tribute album. I don't know whether that will be on the market for a long time. Those who actually bought it should hold on to it, as probably they're going to cut down the release or the availability of it.

CoC: It's actually quite good; it contains some of the bigger names of black metal, like Emperor, Marduk, Satyricon...

Q: I know Black Mark got a copy of it, but they sent it to their lawyer for an upcoming trial, so I haven't myself heard it yet. I understand a lot of those young or second/third generation black metal bands that are getting some coverage in these magazines contributed a Bathory track. What [Hellspawn] did was use the Bathory logo and goat head, which is copyright stuff. We tried to discuss with them about two years ago, "You can do this and that, but you cannot do this or you cannot do that", as far as copyrights, logo types and registered trademarks are concerned. Down the line, they didn't meet our agreement, they went their own way, cut the communications, and the album just appeared on the market, opposing everything we had been talking about.

CoC: And finally, do you feel added pressure when writing new material, with these high expectations being placed on you by fans who consider you a legend?

Q: It's an added pressure, yeah, but you have to realize that that pressure or legendary status comes from what's in the past, and for anybody to compare the past with the future is a mistake. When there's a new Black Sabbath album, with the exception of the new live one, I sort of say "What's better than the old days?", so I instead think about their stuff from '72/'73. So, from that point of view, I'm certainly making those same mistakes myself when I'm referring to some groups as well. When people say "the good ol' days" as far as Bathory is concerned, they're thinking about the '80s. That's a long time ago, that's more than ten years ago, and in some respects more than fifteen years ago. You have to look into the future.

(article submitted 13/2/1999)


CHATS
7/16/2004 M Noll Bathory: KICKING*ASS in '85 - Quorthon RIP
1/14/2002 A Wasylyk Bathory: Entering an Age of Antiquity
11/8/1995 A Bromley Bathory: Bathory
ALBUMS
9/21/2003 Q Kalis 5 Bathory - Nordland II
5/29/2003 Q Kalis 6 Bathory - Nordland I
1/14/2002 V Eldefors 7.5 Bathory - Destroyer of Worlds
6/9/1996 A Wasylyk 9 Bathory - Blood on Ice
10/1/1995 G Filicetti 8 Bathory - Octagon
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