Personal letter from Quorthon of BATHORY
My dearest Horde!
The first thoughts that came to my mind when I first sat myself down to write this introducing letter for bathory.nu, is how very important the underground feel still is and how ever present that feel is in everything that BATHORY does.
Whether you call it Black, Death, Epic, Viking or Nordic, BATHORY has made a dent in the history of extreme metal. During the past two decades, a great deal of frontiers has been explored, boundaries were crossed and horizons broadened. New sounds and styles created, new ways to expand in the field of instrumentation and new ways to arrange extreme metal have been invented.
I take great pride in having been a vital part in that evolution. Extreme metal today is so much more than any of us could even have dreamed of twenty years ago. And you – the audience – are the ones that ultimately get the most out of all that in the end.
Back in the mid 90’s as we planned the release of an album entitled BLOOD ON ICE, it was felt a necessary move to try and explain the sometimes complicated story and many turns in the life-line of the BLOOD ON ICE-project. A decision was made to write a one thousand words long story that would bring almost every little detail up vital in telling the whole story of the BLOOD ON ICE-project, and to print all that in the BLOOD ON ICE-CD booklet. This story would also feature a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff, things that we deemed interesting to read not only to the die-hard BATHORY audience but also the public in general.
So much mystery, so many legends and strange stories circulated, that perhaps some details from behind-the-scene could help in bringing the making of the BATHORY-records into new light. Not the least the very primitive conditions we had to be content with during the 80’s.
Some of those early albums of BATHORY are still considered vital fundaments in the history of extreme metal, albums that influenced tons of acts and pleased enough people out there for BATHORY to have passed the 1.4 million mark in terms of sold units during the past two decades. It was felt that perhaps some behind-the-scenes stories would serve to increase people’s admiration for how we were still able to create those albums despite the many difficulties and makeshift conditions.
The base of the material that would eventually be released as the complete BLOOD ON ICE-saga, had also been recorded during these primitive makeshift conditions. Thus we thought it only appropriate to take the opportunity to shed the light on those circumstances during which at least four of our early albums had been recorded.
But the response to the behind-the-scene stories and details revealed, was nothing we could ever have expected. Tons of deeply hurt die-hard BATHORY fans would write me and use such hard words as “…sacrilege…” or “…traitors…”. And how the hell could I “…talk about BATHORY in such a disrespectful manner…” and who the hell did I think I was “…to have the right to write things like that and talk about BATHORY in such a way…” etc.
I realized then more than ever before that BATHORY was surrounded by the same sort of stuff only legends are made from. The element of mystery and suspense was still very important to a lot of die-hard BATHORY fans. We hadn’t been disrespectful or tactless – just heedless – in bringing out some behind-the-scenes details. I suppose people didn’t want to know how Quorthon of BATHORY would squeeze himself into this cleaning cabinet while doing the vocals for this track or be seated in the bathroom while recording the acoustic guitar on another track. It was the truth, but it didn’t suit the image that a lot people had of BATHORY or myself.
The irony is, at that exact moment I was toying with the idea of writing and publishing a BATHORY book. So finding out how the only people who would even have the slightest reason to buy and read a BATHORY book could react so emotionally to some behind-the-scenes stories revealed – and the pointlessness in writing that BATHORY book – was a bitter fact to swallow. I would nevertheless make notes along the road, notes that has come in handy today as the bathory.nu site goes active.
But it has been a thoughtful and eventful journey before the bathory.nu site materialized. And the story begins thus…
I always wanted BATHORY to keep an underground atmosphere and attitude in much of what we were doing. For a number of years – a long time ago – I didn’t want tons of BATHORY shirts and picture disc’s to flood the market, thus I was very reluctant to give my consent to the official BATHORY merchandise we are used to today. Until one day I realized there was a mismatch in the balance between demand and supply. A gap occurred, a gap that tons of bootleggers were just too happy to fill with whatever crap they could produce. At the end of a series of circumstances, I ended up receiving emails and letters from fans all over the world telling me how they’d paid big money for down and outright crap. So we began to produce our own merchandise. Not for the profit, because we always kept as low prices as possible, but as a service to our loyal hordes.
The same story can be used to describe the talks about an official BATHORY homepage. For a great number of years – not reading the metal press myself – I was used to receive letters from fans telling me about something on BATHORY published in either a local fanzine or a widely distributed magazine. The article as such – usually enclosed with the letter as a photocopy and frequently translated by the fan – would consist mostly of either the obviously incorrect or hard-to-believe stuff. It took a lot of my time to personally answer each and every one of the worried fans that wrote me. I assured them that either this or that detail in the articles was either an assumption made by the journalist or a rumor he might have picked up down his local favorite gay bar.
In the past handful of years however, with the arrival of hundreds of metal sites on the web, the scene was repeated. Fans would begin to email me about something they’d read on a website, asking me if this or that was true. They’d normally enclose a link allowing me to check various sites up for the degree of truth in what the site had down as their version of the history of BATHORY. To this day, I can not claim to have seen even one so-called BATHORY-biography on the web that was even remotely close to accurate. The most horrifying examples would contain up to 99% inaccurate information, vicious lies, malevolent rumors, irrelevant bullshit and utter crap.
I couldn’t have cared less myself personally. But just imagining the number of fans that at any given moment could unsuspectingly read and perhaps believe these sites, made me appalled. It literally tore my heart out just contemplating the number of people who might just have thrown a quick eye on these false biographies and taken what they had just read for the truth.
I must have written up to a hundred emails – asking the folks responsible for a site – to contemplate dropping me an email just once with any questions they might have regarding BATHORY. I assured them that I’d be all ears and that I’d truthfully answer anything they could possibly come up with. All in an effort to try and set the record straight and to serve both the BATHORY fans and the rest of the people who might visit their site.
Sometimes I would judge a particular case as nothing other than lack of knowledge on their part and I would go easy on them. Other times, I sensed a more vicious tone in the way they’d handle the history of BATHORY. The details brought up as facts – apart from being inaccurate – had nothing to do with music and such a huge portion of their BATHORY story seemed to have been written with the sole intent to do nothing but harm.
Somebody once said: in order to make room for the new Gods you’re gonna have to kill off some of the old Gods. BATHORY has indeed been labeled as pioneers, masters and Gods alike by an entire scene for almost two decades. I could live with the epithet “pioneer” or even “master”, that’s just a telltale sign of the impact and importance your music has had on millions of people around the world over a period of two decades. I was never was too comfortable with that “God” thing, though. But there might be some truth in that “killing the old Gods off” phrase.
By the time the second generation of extreme metal bands of various styles – highly influenced by BATHORY – began to release their first couple of albums in the mid 90’s, it was high time to consider BATHORY as old Gods indeed. Along with that came an attitude that said it was justifiable – even expected – to cut BATHORY by the ankles in any way and for any reason. Along with that change in attitude came a new way to write about BATHORY.
While the fan mail received would still be full of praise and hails, only very few times in the past ten years roughly would I encounter a fanzine, magazine or a webzine that approached the subject of BATHORY without a grin or a poorly hidden smirk. I tried very hard to find out why. Only recently did I find out how people would talk behind doors and in closed circuits at release parties, in beer tents during festivals and up the editorial domains. A few acquaintances – occasionally active within the metal media in Europe – informed me how it would even be indulged to bad mouth BATHORY and myself personally as much as possible. This would not only spread an ugly atmosphere but in the end also harm the relationship between BATHORY and our audience, since most of what our audience got to read would be this malevolent bullshit and incorrect crap.
This explained for the change of tone in the way some media would write about BATHORY. Reviews would very seldom be about the music at all. Interviews would be full of instances where words had been put into my mouth. Things that I had actually said would some times be twisted around to such a degree you couldn’t blame all of that on language problems or a bad telephone line. And both malicious and sarcastic comments slid in by the journalist or even the editorials would either end every second passage or even make up the headline.
I would occasionally tell a journalist at the end of an interview how much I thought his questions had been way off the only relevant issue: the music. And I would be frank about my feelings for the media in general. I’d be open about how I thought the big magazines were less about the music and more about fashion. I couldn’t have cared less when people told me I should perhaps not be so outspoken. I wasn’t a twenty-year old newcomer to the scene. I did not nourish dreams of top reviews and spreads in their glossy magazines. I had done all that and more.
I wasn’t asking for unconditional praise and hails from the media. All I asked for was an objective approach to music beyond fashion and trends. I couldn’t care less if Nu Metal was the flavor of the month or if Gothic was considered hotter than retro-spandex-whatever had been the previous month. But I did care when reviews would be nothing but personal insults and when more than half of what went down as my words in interviews had been re-written and twisted around to the point I did not only sound like a retard but would come across as a complete idiot all together.
Frank or not frank about my thoughts and views of the media in general and what went wrong in the way they cover music. Truth is – though – the almost infamous relationship between the media and myself has been horrendously blown out of proportions. Not wanting to make that the main issue whenever I did talk to the fanzines, magazines, webzines or radio stations, I decided that enough was enough. I didn’t want to push the focus away from the music any further than what was the case already.
The very positive response from the fans that wrote or emailed me was proof enough that I had made my point and reached out. I knew I had stirred some shit around and made people think. But there was still some work to be done in terms of offering the many webzines out there a direct link to correct information, cold facts and the answers to any questions they might have regarding BATHORY. Thus, I would spend all that time emailing webzines to inform them of the vast portion of misinformation they had down as their version of the BATHORY history.
To this day, less than a handful of the close to a hundred folks I’d email actually did reply. Most of them would say they were indeed sorry and went on to claim they of course agreed with me totally in that they of course should have contemplated spending two minutes of their lives to write me that email. Others would come back saying things like “…tough luck…” or “…that’s life…”, displaying a total disrespect towards the unfortunate people who might just happen to end up with their website on their screens.
The way these people would deliberately neglect the chance to get the facts straight from me, the way they chose to ignore the opportunity to ask me that one question they’d always wanted to know the answer to, and the way the couldn’t be bothered with the level of misinformation on their website, was a frightening experience.
If these hemorrhoids were the last instance, if people like these had the tools and position to reach out to the audience of all act’s, and to deliver their crap to readers in general and fans especially, then the whole web-culture really needed a clean-up. If their lack of judgment, lack of care and lack of professionalism really shaped peoples image of something that had been the biggest part of my life and my creation for the past twenty years, my prayers could only be with the unsuspecting fans.
It was around this time that I realized only an official BATHORY website would sort the problem out. With an official site on the web, there would be a place where fans especially and people in general could go for the plain truth, the correct story, the hard facts, the accurate information and even the stuff no journalist even bothered to ask. Never again would a journalist, a web editor or a general hemorrhoid be able to claim lack of accessible or official information as an excuse for the vicious lies, malicious misinformation, malevolent rumors, irrelevant bullshit and utter crap they’d consistently brought up when writing about BATHORY. Thus the decision was made to create bathory.nu.
Still remembering the harsh response to some of the stories and details brought up in the BLOOD ON ICE-CD booklet, there was still some reluctance lurking in the back of our minds. Would bathory.nu be met in a similar fashion? Could the response be the same this time around? A golden opportunity to get the answer to that would be the release of the twin saga NORDLAND.
We decided to create a long web article and feature that on blackmark.net simultaneously with the release of NORDLAND I. The article would be about the NORDLAND-saga specifically and the BATHORY history generally. At the end of that article, we asked you the fans to contribute in making part of the NORDLAND II web article a forum for the BATHORY Hordes. We asked you the fans to send us your questions for a selection we called The Fans Asks The Questions or the FAQ-section.
The response was overwhelming. We received well over a thousand emails. And although there simply wasn’t enough time to allow for all emails to make it to the FAQ-section, great care was taken to try and answer as many questions as possible with a personal email. Once the NORDLAND web article part two hit the net around the release of NORDLAND II, and the response was that of praise and hails, we realized then that the time was ripe for bathory.nu.
We hope that bathory.nu will be an interesting spot on the web for all of you. We hope that you will trust bathory.nu as the home to all BATHORY fans. We hope that you will think of bathory.nu as the place to go in order to get the news on BATHORY.
We hope that when you come here to get an insight into two decades of extreme metal history, you will get what you came for. Whether you are looking for a specific detail from the past or want to read about a special phase in BATHORY history, we hope to be able to serve you with all the facts you want. And when you want to read the story seldom told, the answer to the question rarely asked, this will be the site for you.
If you are dead tired of the garbage delivered by your favorite metal magazines, then bathory.nu is the place for you. We trust that we will be able to serve you all the behind-the-scenes details and inside stories. You can always trust on bathory.nu. for the correct, true, accurate and honest history of BATHORY.
I have been told this site will be updated and expand further down the road. Yet should there be anything that you feel we have missed or should there be an issue you feel we didn’t expand on enough, hesitate not to drop us an email anytime and we’ll try to incorporate whatever the issue when up-dating the site. And similarly, should there be anything at all that you would like to share with us and the BATHORY HORDES around the world, hesitate not to drop us any jpeg’s or scanned items.
So for now, please enjoy bathory.nu and stand proud brothers and sisters……
Hail the Hordes!