Bathory was a Black Metal band/musical project formed in 1983 in the city of Vällingby, suburbs of Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, by multi-instrumentalist Thomas Börje Forsberg, better known by the name Quorthon. The band is considered one of the creators of both Black Metal and Viking Metal. Bathory disbanded definitively in 2004 when Quorthon passed away.
The band’s name is a tribute to the Hungarian countess “Erzsébet Báthory”, considered Hungary’s most famous serial killer, but who also was an inspiration for a Venom song, “Countess Bathory”, released in 1982 . Venom was one of the bands that influenced Quorton.
The band’s first four albums are considered to be the starting point for the creation of Scandinavian black metal. The band stopped following this style on their fifth album, Hammerheart (1990); this album is cited as one of the first Viking metal albums.
Bathory’s history is covered in mystery. Little is concrete about the subject, especially about the line-up, and some say that it was nearly “a one band man”, Quorton being a talented multi-instrumentalist musician, and the other member would have only played punctually.
Contemporary with Kreator, Destruction and Sodom, he was an influence on other bands that came later, such as Emperor, Samael and Tiamat.
Quorthon and two friends, just for fun, Bathory was a garage band that covered bands like Black Sabbath and Venom. In this garage, which operated as a mechanic’s garage and had car parts piled up, the band played on precarious equipment. The place was so small that, as Quorthon himself later recalled, “if the instruments came in, the musicians had to leave”.
Bathory has the uniqueness of being a studio-only project, recording albums but not performing in shows. Quorthon makes most of the guitars, acoustic guitars, sound effects, vocals, and mixing and said he was influenced by classical music, Beethoven and Wagner in particular.
The name Bathory comes from a countess named Elizabeth Bathory, born in 1560, who lived in a castle in Hungary. She had the strange custom of bathing in virgin blood because she believed it to be the secret to rejuvenation. After several suspicions, the King of Hungary orders them to invade the castle, and the soldiers find several dead girls and others trapped. Elizabeth is tried (the transcript of her trial still exists in Hungary) and imprisoned in solitary confinement while her accomplices are burned alive.
Historical evidence shows that the governor of the province where Elizabeth lived invented stories about her to pressure her into paying her tax debt to him. The pretext was the Inquisition’s “witch hunt” promoted by the Catholic Church and the moralists of the time. Elizabeth Bathory was primarily responsible for the beginning of the vampire legend.
Considered one of the first works of Death Metal, with its macabre stories, Quorthon says years later that his main inspiration came from the comic horror magazine “Chock” (similar to “Tales From the Crypt”) and says ironically that it is not the result of the reading of “Black Bible”.
In early 2004, after the release of the albums Nordland and Nordland II, Quorthon was found dead, aged thirty-eight, in the apartment where he lived in Stockholm. The cause of death was a heart attack.
In 2021, the band entered into the Swedish Music Hall of Fame
The Return…… (1985)
Under the Sign of the Black Mark (1987)
Blood Fire Death (1988)
Twilight of the Gods (1991)
Blood on Ice (1996)
Destroyer of Worlds (2001)
Nordland I (2002)
Nordland II (2003)