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Black Metal History Month

Quorthon From BATHORY Had a Grunge Solo Project!?

Posted by on February 12, 2016 at 12:46 pm

To have lived and created one of the most important metal projects of all time is quite an achievement. Tomas "Ace" Börje Forsberg, better known as Quorthon, was the man behind the legendary Bathory. In his illustrious career, spanning two decades, Quorthon created four albums that would become the inspirational backbone of the 2nd-wave black metal movement of the 90s: Bathory, The Return of Darkness and Evil, Under the Sign of the Black Mark and Blood, Fire, Death. He also created Hammerheart and Twilight of the Gods, two indispensable works of Viking metal that dozens of power metal acts have spent careers trying to replicate. But that's not all! He made a couple grunge records in the 90s as well.

Wait. What?

No, really. I was exploring some playlists on Spotify and when I looked on one of their grunge lists, I saw the artist name "Quorthon" there. I said to myself, "wait…THAT Quorthon?"


It turns out that in the mid-1990s, Quorthon had a separate act that explored a different side of his musical tastes. In 1994 and 1997 (respectively), he released Album and Purity of Essence. Some Bathory fans may find this off-putting, seeing their high priest abandon the bullet belts and leather for Doc Martins and flannel. But for someone like me, well…black metal and grunge are basically my two favorite genres. So if the master of one style managed to make great music in the other style, that only makes me admire him more.

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Of the two records, Purity of Essence is a more buttoned-up and focused work than Album. But they're definitely both worth a listen. Album leans a little more heavily toward Tad, Mudhoney, Alice in Chains and early Soundgarden. Whereas Purity is a more interesting blend of Nevermind-era Nirvana, Screaming Trees, Superunknown-era Soundgarden, along with some touches of the Pixies, Beatles and perhaps even some Helmet and Undertow-era Tool. While the music may be just the "rock music" that Quorthon had inside him, there is no denying that dirty, washed out and well…grungy guitar sound. And while Qurthon's singing voice isn't always the best (he improves significantly on the second album I'd say), his melodic style fits well within the alternative rock framework. It's too bad the "post-grunge" crowd didn't go in more in this direction. If I had to direct anyone to what post-1994 grunge-inspired rock should sound like, Quorthon absolutely nails it.

Check it out! Or…Hails!!! Whatever works.

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