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Bathory - Under the Sign of the Black Mark
Review: Blastmaster Quorthon brings his third album by ultra-primitive black metal band Bathory into the spotlight by curving his style toward that of conventional rock, with more catchy and conclusive choruses and slightly more technique and style.
The metal-stamper percussion works as an effective offset by sustaining the same furious ranting pace without cessation for phrase endings or anything except major structural changes, allowing the guitar to introduce numerous smaller textural riffs and variations along the same major tempo, driving high-intensity discharge behind the strobing guitar.
Atmospheric in its intent, guitar uses simple chords for composition of deliberately straightforward and aggressive riffs, with chorus riffs following the vocal track and all other riffs building direction by shadowing the consistent rhythm of the terminator-style drum machine. Solos break out of the music, mockingly disguised as utter randomness but following the harmonies of each song's major theme.
The stretched and eroded voice of Quorthon hisses from a distant height to the music, chanting the psalms of lyrical evil created for our aesthetic sustenance as listeners. The combined tribute to and parody of previous generations of metal invokes the emphasis on impurity prevalent throughout this work.
Where this differs from previous Bathory is in the evolution of tempo beyond the direct influence of Venom and Slayer, the primary progenitors of this style; here something closer to, ahem, Motorhead can be heard with recursing and counterpoint rhythms underlying simple, almost ambient riffs that emphasize resonance over harmonic motion.
In this classic evolution the future of black metal reveals itself, and the ambition of increasing complexity is tempered only by the rising tide of melodrama threatening to swamp all taste with dogmatically obvious songwriting.