Not just a classic, THE classic that started it all. The album that along with Hellhammer’s fuckery started the genre we know as black metal.
I’ll be honest, I’m not going to pretend that if this was released today it would be amazing. As a black metal album, even by a lot of first wave standards it’s lacking. However, I’m surprised at how damn well it holds up as a thrash/speed metal album, even by today’s standards. If you’re looking for sloppy, crass, and unrelenting thrash metal, you could look around really hard at all of the modern releases and not find anything that is as good as this, particularly Side Darkness which is the generally more traditional thrash side. As much as I think Hades is really only saved by the intro, the rest of the side A is kickass, especially Necromansy, which has an absolutely stellar main riff. As much as Quorthon wasn’t a musical genius, he knew that with this style of music, having an off button was not an option.
That said, I’m surprised at how genuinely great some of the riffs are on here, again highlighting Necromansy, although something has to be said with Sacrifice and to an extent Raise the Dead as a switch up. Bizarrely enough, the album is actually at it’s weakest when it disposes of any kind of musicality for pure hard going aesthetic, particularly a track like War. In Conspiracy With Satan is just so damn evil that they pull it off, but otherwise I find that the most black metal like side of this album is actually not the strength, and actually kind of makes me wish Bathory had released some other more traditional thrash material.
That said, this is essential, and essential for a reason. It’s historically important, and insanely good considering when it was made. Not much else needs to be said, I feel like this is an album that every black metal fan needs to crack open a beer and jam to at least once.