Dick’s Picks: Picking apart the infamous debut album from Bathory

As the weather gets progressively colder, Dick has ventured to the darkest area of Sweden’s extreme music history this week, looking at the elusive ‘yellow goat’ variant of the iconic debut album from Bathory.

Aren’t Bathory considered one of the very first black metal bands?

In some ways, yes. While the style was taken to the extreme by the Norwegian scene some years later, Bathory, along with Venom and Mercyful Fate, served as the roots of black metal. Bathory initially had more in common with thrash, hardcore punk, and traditional metal, but the satanic imagery and anti-religious lyrics is all part of what would become the black metal aesthetic.

Influenced by Motorhead, GBH, Black Sabbath, and Venom, their debut album is raw, fierce, and features a lo-fi production quality that was typical of the time. It would have sounded wrong any other way, though. Recorded and mixed in less than three days, the rushed approach adds to both the urgency and depravity of the record.

So what makes this so rare then, Dick?

Right before the 1984 release, The album was initially set to be called Pentagrammaton and a Pentagram was going to adorn the front cover. This idea was scrapped, and the Pentagram moved to the rear of the sleeve. In true DIY fashion, Bathory mastermind, Quothorn, used rub-on lettering to create the text on the back, but ran out of letters (C, to be exact), meaning a dubious misspelling of Necromansy had to be made.

But that’s not the rare part…

The goat on the front cover, taken from a Joseph Smith drawing, was supposed to be printed in gold. The cost of this turned out to be too high, and Quothorn asked for it to be as close to gold as possible. The result turned out to bright yellow, and even the band have said that the cover looks “awful.” After the initial 1000 copies were sold through, it was switched to the black and white design that has now become iconic within extreme music. The original yellow goat pressing, or as it is also know, Gula Geten, is worth a considerable amount of money in any condition, and the chances of ever seeing one are slim to none.


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