In memory of Quorthon

I’m late with this, but better late than never.

June 3 was the sixth anniversary of the death of Quorthon, the creator of the sound that eventually became black metal. Quorthon was the visionary behind Bathory, and he is one of the few people we can justifiably call the founder of a musical genre. He died too young, at 38.

If Quorthon had stuck strictly to the sound he had pioneered on albums like “Bathory” and “Blood Fire Death,” he would still be recognized as a original. But instead of playing it safe and giving the fans what they expected, Quorthon branched out musically, leaving (partly) behind the black thrash of old for more epic songs and clean vocals. It was a risk, but it worked; albums such as “Hammerheart,” and the two-disc epic, “Nordland” are powerful, beautiful and heavy as the pillars of Stonehenge.

Not that Stonehenge would have interested Quorthon lyrically: Quorthon’s later music delved into the Norse myths of his native Sweden. “Hammerheart” was released in 1990 – at a time when the future Norwegian black metal artists were young. Could it be that the Norse tales of “Hammerheart” helped propel the Norwegian black metal scene into its anti-Christian crusade? Christianity was violently imposed on Norway, bringing about the end of the Viking era. Quorthon disapproved of the violence in the Norwegian scene … but it’s likely he was the Norwegians’ spiritual godfather.

(For more on Quorthon’s thoughts about the violent early Norwegian black metal scene, I strongly recommend Ian Christe’s Sound of the Beast: The Complete, Headbanging History of Heavy Metal.)

Anyway, here’s a hail to Quorthon, gone but not forgotten. If there’s a Valhalla with a Great Hall (which I guess is no more implausible than any other afterlife story), perhaps we’ll see him there. Peace, fallen brother.

Enjoy this:

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