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4.1 out of 5 stars19
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 21 November 2010
I won't delve too deep into the history of either Bathory or the sorely missed Tomas Forsberg, also known as Quorthon. An innovative in every sense, Quorthon inspired and pioneered in the early days. Not only did he have a hand in shaping black metal but he also forged a genre now known as Viking metal. The respect for Quorthon will run deep as long as metal is alive and, I daresay, even after its death. In terms of his discography with Bathory, it's hard to pick out a defining moment, although many will argue that `Blood Fire Death' is his grand opus, the album which immortalised his name forever. Personally, although I've grown to adore, love and treasure this album, his fourth and first steps into Viking metal, I've recently come to the conclusion that I prefer `Hammerheart', his fifth full-length and second journey into the land of Vikings. However, although this may be true, my initial disappointment with this album has turned into deep admiration and a sense of longing to hear something even remotely close to its godliness.

Even the introductory song, `Odens Ride Over Nordland' sends shivers down my spine. When dealing with a so-called classic, I find it very easy to become underwhelmed by the levels of expectation I put on the shoulders of a release. For example, although unrelated musically, their stories are similar - Slowdive. This is a band I once thought were overrated but, ever since my expectations were lowered and I knew what I was going to hear the second time round, after many months of having left the dust to settle, I was blown away. The exact same thing happened with Bathory's `Blood Fire Death' and, hopefully, in time, the same will happen with Bathory's original black metal trilogy, a series of albums I've yet to grow to appreciate. The time for the Viking series of albums has come and albums like `Blood Fire Death' are arising to meet with their fate of being labelled some of the best in the industry, as they truly deserve to be.

With Bathory's original trilogy of history making black metal albums, I could never get into the shorter compositions. Although this album only has three songs I'd consider "long", it feels, in general, more thought out and has a better style of writing. Bathory's self-titled, for example, feels somewhat rushed to me. I appreciate the innovation of it, but I could never truly feel for the songs or the atmosphere the way I do with this archaic sounding masterpiece. This also explains why I prefer `Hammerheart' to this particular album. The compositions are longer, leaving more time for variation and wonderful dynamics to become involved. Most, if not all, of the songs on that particular album are terrific at dealing with longer lengths. This album also deals better with longer time frames than it does short. For example, `A Fine Day To Die' is a Bathory classic. At over eight minutes long, it feels worthwhile. The build-up, the middle and the ending are perfected through the use of multiple changes and craftsmanship. Some songs, like the self-titled, also deal with subtle synths, which I particularly enjoyed. They're not overbearing and don't have a lessened impact due to the incredible guitar work. They're just right.

Songs like `The Golden Walls of Heaven' however, feel pressed for time. As if they're rushing their way through in anticipation for the next big song, the mammoth self-titled song, `Blood Fire Death'. Songs like the former are adept at what they do but they don't have the same feeling, or inspire in the same way that the masterful longer songs do. The shorter songs tend to stick to one tempo and proceed with it until the very end whereas the longer songs are more willing to chop and change dynamics, which makes them far more exciting in terms of the story they tell, which is one of bloodied battles, dismantling armies and destroying regimes. The artwork, accompanied by the instrumentation, is sublime. I often feel that the music should elaborate on the artwork and this is precisely what the instrumentation here does and really well, too. That's probably why I don't have as much problem with shorter songs on albums like this because, as with the brooding `Pace' Till Death', the shorter songs build images in my head of how fragile life is, how quickly a life can end and the destruction caused by man on his fellow man.

There's something very spiritual about the longer songs, in particular, I find. They're much slower, very drawn out but in a good way. They deal, in my opinion, primarily with the long nature of war. How tiresome it is and how cyclical by using occasional repetition and strong, shrieked vocals, though he has the ability to alter the vocals on occasions to more of a harsh, raspy scream. The solos of each and every song are well handled and mixed in with the other instrumentation well. Each song tends to feature superb layers so you're always mindful that several things are occurring at once and the detail is incredible, despite how grimy the production may feel, everything is audible and easily accessible to the listener. The production is something I found quite surprising, in fact. I thought it might be a bit thin but it isn't. It suitably portrays the story of the album and does a great job of highlighting the elements which are only sparsely used but have a great affect on the album, as shown on the self-titled song in the beginning with the acoustics and synths. The drums, even, on this song are somewhat different but treated well by the production. Despite not being too knowledgeable about Bathory or Quorthon's history, I still find it easy to love almost everything about this album.
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on 11 July 2006
This was a monumental album at the time of its release and today, while the production is obviously not up to the standards of much of today's extreme metal, it stands up as a classic landmark. Quorthon was never more in tune with what worked than he was at this point...

The proper opening track (Fine Day to Die) is powerful and epic more than ever before for Bathory, but you are kept on your toes: Golden Walls that follows is one of the most effective speed metal tracks ever put on to plastic with relentless power and incredibly accute time changes accompanied by great lyrics. Holocaust contains one evil sounding riff with sledgehammer aggression throughout and the album concludes with something close to the direction he would take with Hammerheart, the epic and mid-paced title track utilising properly for the first time what would become a Bathory staple, the majestic choral background.

With a Viking atmosphere (although not strictly a Viking album in the lyrical sense), plenty of variety in the well-written song structures and a beautiful album cover Blood Fire Death is an essential album to own for anyone with a taste for extreme/black/viking/thrash metal.

[...]
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on 24 May 2002
This is considered a milestone in Black Metal, and one of the Black Metal classics of all time. it is simply a superb album, with a raw sound no other band has ever managed to reach. BUY IT NOW!
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on 28 May 2013
Firstly, this is a great album. However, I'm not going to bother reviewing the music, this is more of a warning about the awful release on Kraze Records. I've been buying CDs for about 25 years, and I've never seen such a pitiful 'official' release.

It looks no better than a bootleg...in fact I've seen better bootlegs. Poorly scanned artwork? Check. Single sheet, one sided 'booklet'. Check. Poor quality paper. Check. Inferior sound quality. Check.

Avoid Kraze Records like the plague, go for a different version for this masterpiece.
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on 14 March 2010
This album continued developments only hinted at on the preceding 'Under the Sign of the Black Mark', and took Bathory's music to a new level of splendor and intensity.

'Odens Ride Over Nordland' breathes mystery over the darkening world before segueing into the opening of 'A Fine Day to Die', a paean to dying in battle. An eerie acoustic passage recounts the night before the conflict, then thunderously heavy guitars announce the onset of battle. Another piece, 'For All Those Who Died', is a tribute to the victims of institutionalised Christianity, who died "burning naked but smiling, not full of fear but pride."

But the most epic and moving song is the title track, which seems to sing of the fate of Europeans, who have lost their identity and are now mental slaves:

"Children of all slaves, unite be proud
Rise out of darkness and pain

"A chariot of thunder and gold will come loud
And a warrior with thunder and rain

"With hair white as snow, hammer of steel
To set you free of your chains

"And lead you all where horses run free
And the souls of your ancient ones reign."

This messianic longing is actually a bad thing - it's up to us to save ourselves, and no 'warrior with thunder and rain' is going to do it for us. But it's hard not to be moved by the intense emotion with which Quorthon sings those lines. Maybe we should interpret the 'warrior' as our own innermost Selves, who will rise and fight in our hour of deepest need...

Now where's my hammer?
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on 22 February 2013
I bought this on vinyl in 1988. Prior to that I had bought UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK. Back then the term "black metal" was just the title of a Venom record. It was these two albums that "defined" the term with their low-fi sound and hell storming "vokills". BLOOD, FIRE , DEATH is a defining moment in metal history- from the Wagnerian opus that is "A fine day to die" through the Satanic storming of "The gold walls of heaven" , this will have you talon clawing at the sky in Luciferian adulation. "Pace 'til Death" and "Holocaust" are good but it's the scathing venomous assault of "For all those who died" and the unbelievable chaos of "Dies Irae" that will really burn a hole in your CD player. The album rounds off with the epic ten minute title track which leads seamlessly into the next album "HAMMERHEART," and the beginning of a whole new era for Quorthon in his love for all things Viking. A great album that sounds like it was recorded in a garage... which it was.
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on 7 November 2012
Orgy of silence
Conspiracy of peace
Only the sound
Of the cold northern breeze...

Blood fire Death released in 1988 is essentially a thrash/black metal album and Bathory's transition album to 'viking metal'
Among my favourite albums, it's epic, sweeping and heavy.
The album cover is a piece of art by Peter Nicolai Arbo and it fits perfectly the album.
The album starts with the sound of horses and thunder, what a great idea to introduce this masterpiece, adding epic atmosphere.
It's followed by an acoustic passage and what sounds like a choir, which is the beginning to 'A fine day to die'
when suddenly at about 1:45 minutes in, your hit with an assault of metal, a great guitar riff and angry screams.
The album continues in such a fashion and there is no bad track,A seminal release and a true classic, enjoy.

Recommended tracks...

A fine day to die.
Dies Irae.
Blood Fire Death.
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on 2 January 2015
This CD edition is just awfull...Cd's booklet looks like a Xerox copy or printed in your home printer...
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on 23 December 2015
Having ordered this cd when it came which was next day I read the reviews of the album.it looks like a copy only a printed piece if paper for the inlay sounds like it was recorded in bathtub.avpid getting this on kraze label it's a rubbish version for nearly £10 expect better😡
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on 11 October 2001
This is the point at which Bathory crossed over from black into gothic metal, from hyperspeed Satanic songs to Viking epics. Blood Fire Death therefore has the best of both worlds on one album. The intro is awesome, you can feel the breath from Oden's horses as they ride overhead. A Fine Day to Die is a crushing song about the beliefs of the Vikings on their way into battle, and (incidentally) one of the greatest metal songs ever. But the true high point is the final track, Blood Fire Death itself, the chorus of which is the ultimate celebration of doom and darkness and the sensation of being close to death ... sounds great with the lights out ...
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