By Steve Earles
Godreah Records releases Voices From Valhalla, a two-CD tribute to highly influential underground metal band Bathory, and its fallen leader Thomas ‘Quorthon’ Fosberg.
Bursting on to the underground metal scene in the 1984, Bathory’s first four albums, Bathory, The Return, Under The Sign of The Black Mark, and Blood, Fire, Death, played a major part (along with Celtic Frost/Hellhammer and Newcastle’s own Venom) in forging the now significant metal genre of black metal. There can be no black metal band not influenced by Bathory.
On Bathory’s fourth album, significant inspirations from Viking tales began to permeate the music, and on the subsequent two albums, Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods, this seed brought forth fertile fruit, and begat a second metal genre, that of Viking metal.
Bathory never played live, and this added greatly to their mystique. Indeed, I was introduced to Steve Hughes of cult Australian thrashers Slaughter Lord some years ago after a storming gig by British doom-gods Cathedral in Dublin (Steve is now a well-regarded comedian). Steve corresponded with Quorthon back in the day, and once received a bone in the post by way of reply. A big change from the faceless e-mails of today!
Quorthon sadly passed away at the age of only 39. A tragedy that such a great talent died so young, with so much promise unfulfilled, and yet the mediocrities of the world continue to thrive.
This is where Voices From Valhalla comes from. It is from the underground, and for the underground, it is the underground keeping Quorthon’s vision alive. It is hard to pick highlights from a tribute wherein all 21 (! And but for space if would have been even more, so many wanted to be involved) bands, but personal highlights included d-beat destroyers Ravens Creed’s Venomous version of ‘For All Those Who Died’, Japanese avant-garde band Sigh’s unique take on ‘Under The Runes’, Wolves of Avalon’s ‘Through Blood By Thunder’, Old Corpse Road’s ‘Equilmanthorn’, and the Meads of Asphodel’s savagely sincere take on ‘Destroyer of Worlds’.
Beautifully packaged, and as an extra-special feature, it includes a unique interview that Quothon did with Godreah main-man Crin for the legendary Godreah magazine.
Truly these are songs to hail on high!