I wish I had gotten into Bathory sooner. When I think of all the time I wasted listen to bands with less talent and vision, I utterly shudder. I own two copies of this one: a CD and an autographed vinyl that is one of my most prized possessions. Listening to today’s extreme/black metal, it is quite apparent just what a trailblazer and talented artist Quorthon was (rest in peace, brother). This album not only delivers a punch with its buzz-saw riffs and pulsating rhythms, but with its moody atmospherics as well. The atmosphere is at its most bone-chilling during the intro of “Call From the Grave” where you hear a noise that may very well be a dead man scratching on the lid of his coffin, and on “13 Candles”, where eerie whispers of some evil invocation lead into a terrific mid-paced story of demonic offspring. Bathory was considered to just be a Venom knock-off in the early days, but it was the sheer brutality and unfathomable darkness of records like this that crushed such dismissals. Whether you are a newcomer to the extreme metal scene or a long-time member, you owe it to yourself to own this album. It hits hard with a mesmerizing fury that will leave you yearning for more. Despite being nearly twenty years old, this album holds it own against and often surpasses the best of what today’s black metal scene has to offer. This is a true masterpiece of the genre, a gem taken from the primordial stew of early black metal that set the foundation for a whole generation of artists. The aggression and atmosphere of this record set the stage for the majestic “viking metal” that Bathory would delve into in the years to come, but the power of this recording is undeniable and irreproachable. Don’t ask questions: just get it.