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With their early records recorded on 4-track in teenage guitarist Quorthon's garage, Sweden's Bathory are often cited as the first black metal band. Low-budget production, rampant Satanic imagery, punk-simple guitars and Quorthon's guttural yelps had a major effect on the Norwegian scene that emerged not long after Bathory's first three records: 1984's Bathory, '85's The Return of the Darkness and Evil and '87's Under the Sign of the Black Mark. The first stirrings of what would become Viking metal emerged on 1988's Blood Fire Death. Quorthon slowed tempos, incorporated acoustic guitars, and wrote lyrics more concerned with a noble death on the battlefield than with Satanism. Bathory continued with the Manowar-worthy Hammerheart and their intended final album, 1991's Twilight of the Gods. Instead of breaking up, however, they came back in 1995 with the Bay Area thrash-influenced Requiem. Returning to Viking metal in the '00s, they released Nordland and Nordland 2, the first installments in what was to be a four-album cycle, before the tragic 2004 death of Quorthon (from heart failure) effectively ended the band.
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