Bathory was a Swedish heavy metal band, formed by Quorthon in 1983. They are regarded as one of the forefathers of black metal and pioneers of Viking metal. The band is named after the infamous Hungarian countess, Elizabeth Báthory.
Although Venom's Black Metal, released in 1982, was the first record to coin the term, it was Bathory's early albums, featuring Satanic lyrics, low-fi production and an inhuman vocal style, that defined the genre. Many fans have speculated that Venom was an influence on Bathory; however Quorthon has said in an interview with Kick Ass magazine in 1985 that he only heard of Venom after the first Bathory album was released. He also expressed dislike for many influential and popular heavy metal bands at the time, such as Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. He has also stated that the band's early work was influenced primarily by Black Sabbath, Motörhead and Oi! punk.
Bathory's self-titled debut album, and the subsequent releases, The Return and Under the Sign of the Black Mark, are now regarded as major influences on the Norwegian bands which extended black metal's musical progression and popularity in the beginning of the 1990s.
The first signs of what was to follow appeared on what many fans consider to be Bathory's best album, Blood Fire Death, on which some of the tracks the pace had slowed down to allow for a more epic songwriting approach, said to be an influence on, or initiation of, the extreme metal sub-genre viking metal. It was also here that the Viking theme was introduced. However, most of the musical elements of black metal were still present.
With Requiem, released in 1994, Bathory changed style once more, this time turning to retro-thrash in the vein of 1980s Bay area thrash bands. In recent years, many critics have seen Bathory's output as increasingly erratic, as the band has returned again to Viking themes and, with the Nordland albums of 2002 and 2003, largely abandoned the retro-thrash sound of the mid-1990s in favour his more popular, more epic style for which he is best known.
Bathory have been cited as an influence by musicians as diverse as Metallica, Marilyn Manson, Cradle of Filth, Eric Hoffman and Brian Hoffman of Deicide, Black Crucifixion, Beherit, Billy Corgan of The Smashing Pumpkins, Opeth and Dimmu Borgir. An early member of the band was Jonas Åkerlund, the music video and film director.
In June 2004, Quorthon was found dead in his home, apparently due to heart failure. He was known to suffer from heart problems in the past.
On June 3, 2006, Black Mark Records released a box set in tribute to Quorthon containing three CDs of his favorite Bathory and Quorthon songs, a 176 page booklet, a DVD with his long-form video for "One Rode to Asa Bay", an interview and some rare promo footage, and a poster.
Several Bathory tribute albums have been compiled by black metal artists, one of which was entitled In Conspiracy with Satan: A Tribute to Bathory.
In an interview Quorthon stated that he wasn't conscripted for Sweden's army because of his long hair.