Saturday, 31 October 2020

Nosferatu The Vampyre

 Deep in the heart of Germany…

Estate agent, Jonathon, is offered the prosperous job of selling properties to a Transylvanian count but to do so must take a long trek into the isolated man’s homeland to close the deal. Thinking of career prospects and his beautiful wife, Lucy, he accepts and ventures via foot and horse into a lost world of mountains and forests, amidst which is the count’s ruined castle. Meeting the corpse-like Dracula, Jonathon closes the deal but, after realising that the villagers’ seemingly superstitious warnings of the living dead may have some foundation in truth, he soon finds himself prisoner in the castle, left to wander around for weeks as Dracula himself heads off to his new country by ship. Having spotted a picture of Lucy he’s also now out to acquire himself a new woman. Back in Wismar Dracula’s ship (now with a dead crew) arrives but unleashes on the town a horrific plague as rats pour onto the streets. Soon, mass numbers of the population are dying as the disease spreads and the vampire places his coffins at strategic points around the town; meanwhile the deeply lethargic Jonathon manages to escape before desperately attempting to head back home so he can save his otherwise doomed lover.

Taking the 1922 silent movie as a template was a fairly brave move as it was already an unofficial (and once legally denounced) version of Bram Stoker’s book and took many liberties with the source material. Thus, the Werner Herzog film can be considered more of a remake of a film than yet another adaptation of Dracula, though it certainly qualifies as the latter too. Herzog framed a number of the shots almost identically to the silent version, pre-empting the Psycho ethic that was (unsuccessfully?) adopted by Gus Van Sant a couple of decades later. It was a more relevant approach in the case of Nosferatu however because not only was it updating a silent film for sound-obsessed modern audiences, it also expanded on certain aspects and created an altogether more powerful experience. In fact, the use of sound in this version is incredibly instrumental in formulating a profound experience for viewers - the castle itself is a gothic joy to allow oneself to become a part of as wind howls through the corridors and rooms while wolves constantly whine in the distance. The music (from classical sources as well as German ambient group Popol Vuh) is overwhelmingly dark, thrusting forward an incremental feeling of impending doom like few other movies. It’s a chillingly grim world that Herzog creates. Even before that, the long journey to the castle is emphasised more here than in any other Dracula adaptation. Indeed, when Fox saw the first cut they wanted it shortened, not realising that Herzog was envisioning the metaphoric voyage of the spirit. Thankfully this is generally complete in the German cut. Use of landscape is monumental and absorbing.

The actors are well suited to their roles: Bruno Ganz as Jonathon plays an innocent man lost in a supernatural realm, doomed to a fate he cannot realistically control. Similarly, the vampire (Klaus Kinski, an actor famous for his clashes with Herzog on their many team-ups) is withered and pathetic as his deathly existence continues to sprawl meaninglessly across centuries. Kinski’s portrayal here, while not necessarily aping the Stoker character exactly, is unique and fixating. The other lead, Isabelle Adjani as Lucy, provides a captivating physical appearance coupled with melancholic presence helping us identify with her character’s futile plight. The conclusion, without giving anything away, is different to both the novel and the silent Murnau film. Unfortunately, the film was ridiculed in some quarters during its early days, not helped by the English version which was cut in the US and displayed a voice track uttered by people who couldn’t actually speak English, this alternate version having being shot simultaneously with the same cast/crew: it resulted in an oddity. The full German version gave cause to re-evaluate it but even there some may find it slow and theatrical in places. For me it works wonders and, dare I say (sorry, Stoker fans), the 1979 of Nosferatu is actually my favourite version of Dracula.

For years I’d only seen this on Fox’s old UK videotape. It had the dreaded English language track (in mono) with a fullscreen transfer, plus it had been blasphemously shortened by some twelve minutes. Even then I gradually developed an appreciation for the material, so it was some revelation when I finally picked up the first Anchor Bay US DVD just prior to the millennium: widescreen, German language, and uncut (though the monaural English cut was contained on the flip side of the disc). It was like a goldmine - what was once something that hinted at an incredible world suddenly became a beautifully nightmarish landscape of utter doom (that’s a good thing by the way). Of course it’s now one of my favourite viewing experiences. It’s been re-released by Anchor Bay various times in the US and UK but they’re basically variations on the same original disc. The transfer was good for its time but is looking quite rough now. It was eventually resurrected in the UK by BFI on Blu-ray, with a HD transfer that outshined former DVDs and audio in either English or German language (the latter having mono or 5.1 surround options).  I picked up the beautiful steelbook at the time - now long out of print - which came with a good quality booklet and lovely original poster art across the metallic exterior (see above).  The film was also available within a fairly priced Blu-ray collection of Herzog movies, and stateside from Scream Factory.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Baby Love

This is something of a little known drama from 1968, being released in various territories between 1969 and 1971.  It's a potentially controversial piece about a school girl who moves in with her new family after the death of her mother.  Despite what could have been a rosy life on the outside, the girl - Luci, played by Linda Hayden - conceals a damaged nature, and this manifests itself in her dealings with almost everyone she comes into contact with.  She possesses sexual allure for seemingly everyone who crosses her path, young/old, male/female, people just can't seem to avert their attention.  Sometimes she seems to be being taken advantage of, at others she demonstrates that she may actually be in perverse control of her questionable encounters.  During her stay with the family, everything and everyone appears to disintegrate around her.

Featuring as it does a school girl in obvious sexual situations, it's quite amazing that something like this got made, as you can see how risqué it was for its time (it received an X after some edits requested by the BBFC).  Despite only small amounts of nudity and little explicitness, even today it boasts an 18 certificate - I should imagine some of today's woke audiences would probably be more offended than viewers of the sixties, such is their nature to get offended...  Aside from an odd accent, Linda Hayden is an absolute star in the central role, perfectly cast for her natural combination of attractiveness and awareness.  Of course she went on to play some great parts in films such as Taste the Blood of Dracula, Blood on Satan's Claw, and the crowning performance which she more or less disowned, Exposé (House on Straw Hill).  Baby Love was her first feature role.

Network Entertainment have kindly put out this Studiocanal-owned film (perhaps too edgy for Studiocanal themselves to release directly) on Blu-ray.  It's been transferred from what's thought to be the last remaining film element, a 35mm interpositive.  Aside from small imperfections this 1.66:1 HD image is nice overall and particularly for such a rarity, there is absolutely nothing to complain about.  Dialogue is low in the mix with no real concerns of note for a piece of cinema of this era.  Extras are sparse: there is a still gallery, with further images on the reverse of the cover, and it's coupled (at least in its early print run) with a booklet containing essayed details of the book and movie's history (including quotes from various participants) put together by Adrian Smith, lecturer at University of Sussex.  Network Entertainment are to be congratulated for nicely preserving this equally entertaining and disturbing slice of cinema for posterity.

(As a footnote, I believe this disc is locked to Region B).

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Panic Beats

Paul's (Jacinto Molina/Paul Naschy) wife is undergoing life-threatening health problems when their doctor recommends that Paul takes her away from the city for the sake of her physical wellbeing.  Luckily Paul has retained an isolated rustic family property that is expected to serve just the trick, hence they promptly head out there for a few weeks or months, however long Geneviève needs to recuperate (although the doctor doesn't sound overly optimistic).  It's not exactly a good idea from the get-go.  The minute they're out in the country Paul has to head off for petrol, leaving his already nervous-wreck of a wife waiting in the car.  In true Spanish Horror fashion, there are bandits roaming the woods, and they quickly attempt to thieve what they can from the petrified Geneviève.  In true Paul Naschy movie fashion, he quickly reappears to save the day via beating two types of manure out of the bandits.  The flustered couple arrive at the old property later on in the midst of a thunderstorm, where the housekeeper and her recently appointed assistant are preparing vegetables, as one would.  It's not long before the ancient legend of Paul's ancestor, Alaric De Marnac, is proving to be problematic - he was reputed to have butchered his lover for loving someone else many centuries prior, and is now materialising every century or so to butcher another lover in the family line - that's Geneviève.  Several ghostly and bloody goings-on ensue, with poor Geneviève finding herself in a significantly more stressed and near-death state than she was back in the city!
A damned fun movie from Naschy's mid-eighties output, there are a whole bunch of great characters in here to take pleasure in watching suffer, make sweet lovin', etc.  Naschy does his old double role thing, playing both good guy and bad guy as well as bedding the best looking women in the movie.  In this case the bad guy - Alaric - has made an appearance before Panic Beats (AKA Latidos de Pánico), back in the early seventies classic Horror Rises from the Tomb.  Of course we all know Naschy liked to regurgitate ideas and that's all part of the artistic charm.  One of the things I love about this movie, aside from its melding of Gothic and Gore, is the fact that everybody seems to be double-crossing one another.  Alaric himself doesn't seem to so bad standing next to many of these characters - at least he was honest!  A nice score against the atmospheric backdrop rounds out one of Naschy's best horror excursions.

The only release I've ever seen of this is Mondo Macabro's classic DVD, which came out in 2005.  I bought it back then and have watched it quite a few times since, as the film is always a bit of a blast.  Very good for its time (twofold because, as always, they exhumed a nearly lost gem) the picture looks quite soft by today's standards, although it's nicely framed at 1.66:1.  I should imagine this 35mm 1983 production could look splendid on HD these days.  The audio on the disc was delivered in its original Spanish language track with optional English subtitles to help.  Extras consisted of a 20 minute Spanish Horror documentary (Caroline Munro: 'The first thing you notice over there is that they don't speak English...'), a half hour documentary on the director/lead man, plus a few other titbits.  Long out of print, as I say this was a legendary release by one of the great boutique labels.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Morrigan: Diananns Whisper

The final album of German Black Metal act, Morrigan, appeared - after a lengthy delay - in 2013 via Undercover Records on both CD and vinyl: Diananns [sic] Whisper.  A romantic, mystical painting adorns the cover but the Gothic album title feels amateur in its superimposition.  The package is low-fi, kind of what you would expect from the underground anyway.  Moving on to the music...  The aggression is often left aside here in favour of a moody outing, more melodic in many ways, although very much rough around the edges.  This is in no way a polished piece of work, perhaps deliberately so.  The opening six minute composition, 'Shadowwanderer', is melancholic and slow, setting the tone for much of what's to come.  Clearer vocals are clumsy in sound, though suiting the desperate nature of the song itself.  Edging closer to a Black Metal rasp, the band veer into 'Bloodwidow', complete with not-quite-trademark backing vocals reminiscent of some of Quorthon's work of course.  A pleasing heavy vibe accompanies this track.
'Warbitch' (they do like their bitches...) picks up the pace to midway for a heavy metal/traditional Black Metal aura, raw instrumentation throughout, along with a distorted solo to boot.  The nicely titled 'Thy Nasty Reaper' follows this with a much thrashier mood, a bit of early Emperor going on to catch you off guard before the album slips sneakily into '13 Steps at Dawn', a ballad in essence that will make you weep at the pains of existence.  This is of course not the entire track, as it quickly becomes heavier with a Black Metal rasp once again, albeit maintaining its established core melody.  'The Gallic War' is more of the Morrigan same in terms of a bit epic with the choral underlayer going on.  'Maze of the Graves' is faster again, just as gears switch down for the best track of the album, 'The Singing Hangman', atmospheric and full of doom.  The frantic, schizophrenic title track and 'Dustdevils' close the album.

At fifty-five minutes I would say the album is too long, particularly as it doesn't really cover any new ground for the band (other than a higher volume of clean vocal implementation).  Whilst I do love some of Morrigan's material, they explored every ounce of the breadth of obvious limited possibilities across their seven album career.  They achieved some great results, maybe repeating too few themes too often.  Bathory were ever present as an influential spirit, and at least the German band appeared to wear this influence proudly.  It was a shame that they never reached the heights of the brilliant Headcult again.  Diananns Whisper itself was not quite the last we would hear of Morrigan, however.  They appeared in 2014 for a limited edition split vinyl with Blizzard, a German thrash band who are possibly more active than their colleagues.  Morrigan themselves have been seen in a live capacity as recently as 2017 to my knowledge, so there may be more to come from this slightly mysterious and dark two-man act after all.

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Morrigan: The Damned

Just a year after putting out Welcome to Samhain Morrigan unleashed what I believe is the superior The Damned in 2007, once again via their regular label Undercover Records.  The album opens with an almost sedate, reasonably melodic 'Teutates Warcult' before ploughing into the Emperor-esque 'Innozenz the 3rd', a very Scandinavian feeling going on here which should please many Black Metal head, in particular the lengthy screams giving Isahn something to be jealous about!  'Guilty' contains some interesting riffs while not really going anywhere interesting, then the nicely titled 'Boiling Blood' again hints at Emperor during its more manic moments, mixing in some pleasing melodies along its frantic path forward.
The hefty title track is melancholic in a manner that Morrigan understand, delivering a aura of hopelessness throughout.  'Carnal Desire' sees Beliar doing his Isahn impression once again, though the music is more relaxed than something the Norwegian would have been involved with back in his revered band's early days.  'The Devil's Kiss' picks up the pace somewhat, feeling urgent and chaotic (in a good way), utilising some nifty riffing along the way.  Final slice of music here is 'Confession'; the longest track on the CD this one does threaten to conclude in a fairly ordinary fashion until it segues into a blast-filled section during its last stretch.

One aspect of The Damned that I find notable is that out of all of Morrigan's opuses, this is probably the one that veers away from the Bathory formula the most, although the influence is undoubtedly still there (indeed, by default if an artist is creating anything close to a conventional Black Metal record then he cannot help but demonstrate something of Bathory in there somewhere).  The Damned is a fairly solid, sonically consistent listening experience, professional in execution and illustrating comfort on the part of the two musicians involved.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Morrigan: Welcome to Samhain

In 2006 Morrigan released Welcome to Samhain via Undercover Records once again.  It was a CD that saw them settled into their acknowledged (to small numbers) Black Metal brand, whilst not at all continuing on the same evolutionary path established by the career-defining Headcult.  Instead it appears to pretend that album never even existed: speed generally gets notched up on Welcome..., the guitars are not as heavy, perhaps more traditionally Black Metal in tone, and the 'epicness' is dialled down to make way for an often more primitive experience.  An odd decision, I would have thought, in the trail of producing one's best creative work.
"Eye of Despair" harks back to the primordial aggression of Celts or its two ancestors, and generally points towards a much shorter song length on average than what Morrigan was otherwise becoming comfortable with prior to this point.  The subsequent track, the title piece, plays to the style that I would say was the Jekyll side of Morrigan's trademark - leisurely, melancholic, choral.  There's no doubting though that if Quorthon had never existed then neither would this (along with a slew of other classic bands and albums over the years!).  Bitches are also back on this CD, with 'Bastard and Bitch', an intense, wintry piece that must surely be aiming towards The Return in its aspirations, particularly if one reads the lyrics (the meaning of which I'm still unsure of, as much as I would like to shed explanatory light), while noisy interlude 'Cranking Battleships' is the sort of waste of space the listener is likely to only allow themselves to hear once.

'Life, Death, and the Hereafter' goes for the heaviness, sandwiched between a particularly pounding riff - this is also the longest piece on the disc.  'Believe in Eternity'  adopts a chaotic 'second wave' approach that reminds one of middle-era Immortal as they became particularly unpredictable for a while (and I guess before they sort of became a parody of themselves and the whole genre): there's a lot of screaming going on here!  'Armour of Honour' has plenty to keep speed fans happy, while 'Roaring Warlike and Victorious' is certainly not as pummelling as its title might suggest, taking on a laid back nature.  Concluding piece 'Poch Mo Hoine' (I'm not sure what this means) may remind one of the eponymous Bathory debut in all respects.

Most of the cuts on Welcome to Samhain are of a decent quality, although the listener here can't help but feel a little dissatisfied after the double whammy of Celts and Headcult, expectations possibly unfairly higher here.  I felt the same back in 2006 when I first heard it - it has grown on me a little over the years but will always be overshadowed slightly by what came before.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Morrigan: Headcult

Two years after Celts German Black/Epic Metal outfit (back to the twosome of Beliar and Balor following a brief period with a second guitarist) put out what I believe could be their most accomplished piece via Undercover Records in 2005, Headcult.  Whether it was a coincidence that their worshipped deity Bathory nearly twenty years before them also created their masterwork on their fourth outing is a coincidence or not I will leave other listeners to decide.
As on preceding offerings the album takes off with an atmospheric introduction, more potent than before: 'Morrigan's Flight Over Celtic Lands' (as opposed to Oden's ride over Nordland…) segueing into the band's longest track to date, the ten minute monster that is 'Crom Cruach'.  Featuring a great intro 'Where's Rainbows End' is up next, varying the pace in-track quite a lot until it seamlessly glides into what I consider to be the greatest track Morrigan ever recorded, the splendidly titled 'Bloody Blue Faces', driven by a great melody, clean vocals, and a brilliant central riff.  'They Can't Tame the Devil' is an easy going number, back to a Black Metal rasp albeit without aggression, this leading directly into the eight minute title track, a groove orientated, moody piece with both guys firing on all cylinders.  'Talisain' continues the trend of the album, heavy and epic, while 'Beyond the Convent' polishes things further until 'Spell of the Mountain King' tests the patience a little too much as it never really gets going - a shame to conclude such a great album with quite a boring piece.

Headcult eschewed the manic nature of the preceding three albums by avoiding speed pretty much altogether (as Quorthon did with Hammerheart), and there don't seem to be any bitches either...  You're granted with a strong guitar sound throughout, restrained but energetic drumming from Balor, and a more mature approach to the song-writing itself.  It kind of feels like a Viking Metal album more so than Black Metal, although I don't think these Germans really took on the Viking persona at all, veering more so towards fantasy and paganism.  If you have a fondness for the likes of Hammerheart, Twilight of the Gods, and possibly Nordland 1/2, there's a sound chance you'll dig Headcult.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Morrigan: Celts

Morrigan's third album, dating to a 2003 release, just a year after their second platter, opens with atmospheric chanting melancholia, exuding feelings that resemble the resignation of oneself to battle, or perhaps the battle of life itself.  It progresses to the aptly titled 'Giants of Stone', the longest slice of music they had taken on at that point, slow-paced in the mould of something that could almost have appeared on Bathory's Twilight of the Gods album and complete with a fantastic solo that is at once clumsy and emotive.  But Celts may lull the listener into a false sense of comfort, because immediately following is the vicious 'Warstained Iron', re-asserting the Morrigan trend of alternating slow pieces with faster, more violent compositions.
'Mists of Mag Oa Cheo' is further down the trail, mid-paced Black Metal with an epic feel, after which 'Reappearance' delivers more of the same (suffixed with a doomy Quorthon-esque finale).  'Through the Halls of Ice' takes things down a gear or two.  'Staring in the Eyes of Cruchullain' is one of the best tracks on the album, a grinding riff, periodically overlaid acoustics, choral backing vocals, a Hammerheart feel throughout (albeit with the trademark Beliar rasp leading the vocals).  The heaviness and raw grind of the guitars, particularly evident in 'Staring...', I think may have been crafted with the addition of a second guitarist - Baldur (Tobias Fafner) - here, although this was unfortunately the only Morrigan album he would appear on.  'Era Reiks Formore' picks up the aggression once again, with a cool mid-paced middle section.  Whilst not bad as such, chaos-infused 'Cursing the Beheaded' is probably my least favourite on the CD, although it does begin with a strong two minute doom-laden intro demonstrating orchestral leanings before the raw thrash metal assault of the main track.  'Dance of the Leprechauns' is the crown of the platter, a middle-gear fantasy epic which also happens to be ever so slightly folky.  The final proper slice of music continues another Morrigan tradition of creatively using the word 'bitch' somewhere in a title, the sexy and slightly speedy 'Bitchcraft' taking place before Celts finishes as it started with an instrumental outro that finally allows the bludgeoned listener to relax.

A later reissue of the CD by Undercover Records included the excellent 'Dead Forever' as a welcome bonus, a track that Morrigan completed for a 2004 split single with Greek underground Black Metal outfit Nocturnity providing their example for side B.  This is the version of Celts that I own, the cover (pictured) differing in design compared to the original release.

At sixty five minutes (not counting the bonus track, which notches it to seventy two) I would say the album is too long for such an intense experience, and if I had a choice I would have excised 'Cursing the Beheaded' and possibly 'Era Reiks Formore', not because they are bad tracks at all, rather because it would have tightened Celts somewhat - few albums sustain over an hour of music without getting a bit much to sit through in one go.  That, however, is my only real complaint.  Celts is otherwise my second favourite outing of Morrigan, one where they stepped a little away from being mere Bathory clones towards embellishing that classic influence with their own personality to a greater extent.  A solid album, one which Black Metal fans should seek out one way or another.

Saturday, 27 April 2019

Morrigan: Enter the Sea of Flames

For their second album, Enter the Sea of Flames, appearing a mere year following the debut (Plague, Waste and Death), Morrigan felt a little tighter, doing more interesting things with the sound rather than simply writing an aural love letter to Bathory.  Although without a doubt that influence is strongly present on Enter... as it would be throughout Morrigan's career.
After an effects-laden intro we get the groove-driven, slow paced 'Beyond the Green Hills', again featuring a really chunky guitar sound similar to the debut.  This one delivers some clean backing vocals that will once again remind the listener of some of those Quorthon utilised.  Speed is picked up substantially for 'Thy Armageddon', complete with mid-paced interlude and a pummelling finale.  Next things notch down a couple of gears again to bring to mind Hammerheart with 'Thy Ravens Lay', which is good stuff aside from being possibly a tad long.  (Trivia note: as singer Beliar closes the track you would swear it was Quorthon behind the mic...)  Morrigan evidently loved incorporating 'bitch' into their song titles, as can be seen again with mid-to-faster paced 'Come on, Bitch, Be My Victim'.  We are back in Hammerheart territory when 'To Honour the Brave' arrives, then the pace shifts upwards again as 'In Cold Blood' rips your face off, complete with an Under the Sign... style of solo and a 'Pace Til Death' vibe throughout.  'Anam Cara' is epically melancholic prior to the manic album closer and title track.

If there's one criticism I would level at Enter... it's that it can come across as slightly repetitive, although that has less to do with the frequently changing pace of the songs and more to do with the samey guitar tone across most of the album.  It is quite a decent listen and grew on me over a period of a few months (initial reaction wasn't one of astonishment), proving to be a worthy follow-up to Plague, Waste and Death, though better was to come.

Friday, 26 April 2019

Morrigan: Plague, Waste and Death

Morrigan rose sneakily from the ashes of Mayhemic Truth near the turn of the millennium, producing Plague, Waste and Death as their first official album, although when I say official you must remember that Morrigan have always retained the heart of the underground.  They've never scaled to the status of acquiring what you would call a known record label behind them, which is a shame because they've always struck me as a strong, moderately distinctive (despite the influences - see below) Black Metal act, and I enjoy much of what they've output - I feel that with an organisation such as Nuclear Blast or Season of Mist behind them the German outfit could have achieved more.
I've collected all of their albums over the years, some of them not easy to come by - Plague... is my final purchase and completes my collection.  It demonstrates the heavier side of Black Metal, with a solid guitar sound layered with typically rasping vocals.  Since first reading about them some years ago I have been aware that Morrigan are heavily influenced by Bathory, a fact that clearly manifests itself numerous times across their catalogue.  What surprised me about Plague... is just how bloody in-your-face that influence is!  Many of the tracks are a bizarrely close mix of the masterpiece that is Blood, Fire, Death and Black Metal landmark The Return.  For primary example, 'The Arrival of Dana' veers almost too close for comfort between 'A Fine Day to Die' and 'Blood Fire Death' (the title track of the 1988 album), to a point where the musicians must surely have accidentally gotten themselves a bit mixed up during rehearsals.  'Arrival of Dana' is, to be fair, credited as a salute to Quorthon in the liner notes, and having said all that the very reason I got into Morrigan in the first place was because they kind of filled the gap left by Quorthon's unfortunately premature death.

Elsewhere, the face-ripping opening/title track displays echoes of 'Pace Til Death'; the fantastically titled 'This Bitch Will Burn at Night' has shades of 'Born for Burning' of course; 'In Memoriam' will not fail to remind fondly of 'Reap of Evil's infamous demon-speak sequence; 'Straight War' must surely be inspired by 'Dies Irae'; while 'Requiem' has, with its change of pace, more of a Hammerheart vibe.  Aside from a 'Raining Blood'-esque riff 'Ashes to Ashes' edges a bit more towards some of the ripping Under the Sign... material before the album closes with slower 'Where the Angels Keep Silence', again glancing in the general direction of Hammerheart - get the idea?

Are/were Morrigan a carbon copy of Bathory?  To some extent, and on occasions, resoundingly yes!  Having said that their own character shone through during their seven album (not including Mayhemic Truth) career.  And anyway, reasonably effectively aping Bathory in a world sadly missing Quorthon is not necessarily a bad thing for this fan, even if they could never quite match the sheer power of the Swede in his prime.