Becoming the sons
of the bloodcountess

The story of naming the band

 

          Naming a band is something you don’t always do with ease. Conflicting interests within a band is a common point of dispute. A name that may have seemed perfect at one point, may years down the road seem less suitable. The many miles a band may have walked during its natural evolution may in practice have rendered a name obsolete.

A name can also become a burden, a reason for people aware of nothing beyond the sphere of an image to shuffle you into a corner, a corner that may prove very hard to escape from.

If your intention is to reach out to an audience around the world, the name for your band could be chosen for several reasons. You can for instance pick a name because it is pronounced the same way - and has the same meaning - in more languages than one. You can also pick a name for it’s visual effect or simply because it’s easy to remember.

It can be a name that reflects the lyrical content of your songs. It can represent a view, an interest or a passion for a specific time, place or dimension. Or it may be a name one can easily tie to religion, history, legends or mythology. Then there’s always the option to pick a neutral name. Another issue is making sure you’ve picked a name that’s not only great for your band, but also vacant.


Alzbéta Báthory - the bloodcountes. Also referred to as Erzsebet Bathory.
Born 7th of August 1560 and dead 21st August 1614. She gave the band its name.

          The three young men that made up the first BATHORY line-up, didn’t have any ambitions whatsoever of ever “making it”. There were no thoughts of record deals or concerts. The fun was all in meeting up usually twice a week and perform original material and whatever covers they could agree on playing.

The few occasions when people were invited to come down the BATHORY rehearsal place for a quick listen, the comments would even be of the “-…you’ll never get a record contract or a gig!” sort. Quit simply, they just wouldn’t go anywhere playing that kind of unheard-of brutal noise.

And hence it would seem picking the very right name for the trio really wasn't all that important. But truth is, right from day one basically, there was a name that both said it all and yet was as neutral as it needed to be.

The name BATHORY was short, easy to remember and reflected the dark content of the lyrics written even at that early stage. And should anybody want to now, there was an interesting story behind the name.

But truth is, no deep reading of ancient stories ever settled the choice of name, at least not initially. Tits and blood did, to be frank.

 


A snap by Quorthon of the Bloodcountess exhibition
at the London Dungeon wax museum of horror.
©bathory.nu


- I went to London with a friend about a year prior to forming the band. In the London dungeon - sort of the wax cabinet of horror - there was this one display built to resemble a medieval chamber. In the middle of the room, reclined in a bathtub filled with blood, we spotted this naked female figure. Above the tub, some three or four equally naked female figures were hanging up side down suspended in chains, throats cut and blood flowing.


Quorthon standing right in the middle of the Bloodcountess exhibition
at the London Dungeon wax museum of horror.
©bathory.nu


- If you’re 15-16 years old and already into horror stories, occult movies and the dark side of things, that’s a pretty impressive sight. And the amount of tits and ass on display certainly didn’t make the scene any less memorable or less impressive, even though it was all wax. So I made damn sure to remember the name of what was apparently a countess.


Apparently Mrs. Bathory too had a way with interns... This particular portrait
is apparently a somewhat more modern replica of a long lost portrait.
But it is supposedly also the most accurate portrait of the infamous countess.

          After looking the bloodcountess up, some more serious reading into the subject followed. Her life story being as close to a BATHORY lyric as can be, the name was of course perfect for the band. The idea was, should anybody want to know, there was a story behind the name. However, should nobody care about no story, the name was short, simple and neutral enough and thus perfect.

- I later learned there was this middle-aged man named Pavel Bathory listed in the phone book for Stockholm. So I called him up by chance to see if he might be related in any way to the ol' countess herself.

- The very second I brought the countess up, he began to holler over the phone like a lunatic. It turned out "hundreds" of fans purportedly had called him up over the past couple of years asking the very same question.

- He hung up on me in a flash and I decided not to bother the old man anymore. So I never did find out whether he actually was related to the countess or not. Or why he had not arranged to have his number classified...


Another snap from the London Dungeon wax museum of horror, but a motive with
no connection at all to Elizabeth Bathory or the Bloodcountess exhibition.
©bathory.nu

When UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK MARK was released in May 1987, BATHORY had decided to celebrate the old bloodcountess by dedicating to her memory a specially written track. Considering the topic, one might think that "Woman of Dark Desires" ought to be one of the favorite tracks of the fans, but truth is it just barely missed making it into top 25 when the material for the two first JUBILEUM volumes was compiled in 1992 for the up and coming BATHORY 10th anniversary. And since it had already been decided that the choice of the fans was going to decide which tracks should end up on these two 10th anniversary releases, "Woman of Dark Desires" had to be left out for lack of votes. To the dismay of several old fans one should ad.


Another portrait of the Bloodcountess. What a pity they decided to wall the girl in.
We will never find out if all that blood bathing had any effect on beauty and life at all...

          A common mistake made on numerous websites and elsewhere, is the mentioning of several other "earlier" names of the band. This is not correct and has become another BATHORY legend proven hard to kill. And it doesn't seem to matter how many times Quorthon tries to correct the story.

There never was any other name for the band but BATHORY. There was, however, some names flung about down the rehearsal place one day, names that were tasted for about five minutes.

There never was a band called Countess Bathory, Elizabeth Bathory, Nosferatu, Satan or even Natas. Quorthon persisted that it had to be BATHORY right from the start, and consequently no other name was ever carried by the band.


A shot by Quorthon from the London Dungeon wax museum of horror,
showing one of the victims of the Bloodcountess.
©bathory.nu

          On lyric sheets, homemade stickers and assorted paraphernalia, the band logo would now be drawn on virtually everything using plain black marker pens of various thickness. Initially the logo was in the Koch Fraktur font style. All in an effort to mimic the most common version of the Black Sabbath logo. But within weeks Old English was chosen as the best looking font, and the name would for ever after be written in capitals.


And here we have the Bloodcountess herself. Again a shot by
Quorthon from the London Dungeon wax museum of horror.
©bathory.nu

Yet, for a short period of time between 1993 and 1996, a logo known as the pointed edge logo would be designed to mark the second decade of BATHORY. Appropriately the logo would first come into use when the first album of the second decade - REQUIEM - was released.

But the pointed edge logo was never favored by any of the fractions of BATHORY's audience and consequently dropped in favor of the old and tried logo.

- By that time we really did feel a need to change things a bit to really mark a new decade and hopefully a fresh start for BATHORY. There was a need to escape from that bombastic and epic metal corner that we basically had painted ourselves into at that time.

- After having spent several weeks in the studio during the summer of 1992, listening back to all the old tracks that would be re-mastered for the first two JUBILEUM volumes, that need for something new and fresh was all the more apparent.

- We thought of designing a new logo to make visual that change. And since we had already decided on going back to more basic and brutal stuff musically - and more socially aware lyrics with contemporary themes - a logo looking less like a traditional Black Metal or Epic Metal logo was chosen.

- So I'd cut a logo out in a thin sheet of black leather using a razorblade. And that was used as a template for the pointed edge logo. But neither it nor much of the stuff that we did during the 90's, would lock with the vast majority of our audience at the time. The stuff we had created on record during the second half of the 80's was still too dear to a great portion of our audience for something new like a pointed edge logo or socially aware lyrics and modern hardcore to be readily accepted by too many.

- Today, though, both the pointed edge logo and the initially hated REQUIEM and OCTAGON albums are catching on, being reviewed in a different light altogether these days.

A scanned copy of the initial 1983 version of the BATHORY logo.
Hand drawn by Quorthon back in March 1983. The Koch Fraktur font
was used to mimic the most common version of the Black Sabbath logo.
This Koch Fraktur logo would nevertheless only be used during a few months in 1983.
©bathory.nu

The original BATHORY logo, hailing from mid 1983. Except for some albums
and promotional items in the 90's, this logo has been used ever since with
hardly any modifications made to it whatsoever.
©bathory.nu

A scanned copy of the pointed edge version of the BATHORY logo.
Designed by Quorthon - using a razorblade - for the 10th anniversary in 1993,
it would nevertheless be used only for REQUIEM, OCTAGON and some versions
of the BLOOD ON ICE album, plus some promotional items back in the 90's.
©bathory.nu

          The name Bathory - and the images of blood and horror it may bring about - may have suited the Nordic and Viking theme rather badly. One might think it impossible for an act named after the old Bloodcountess, to be able to make the transition from Black Metal to Nordic Metal in under two years and still be worthy a hundred per cent credibility.

- We never thought about that. And I have never heard anybody bring the issue up. The name reminded at least me of where we came from and where it all started. With a name that was absolutely neutral, it might perhaps have been a more casual transition, but then tell me one name for a band that is.

- By the time we did albums like HAMMERHEART and TWILIGHT OF THE GODS, that style, the production, sound and attitude of our late 80's and early 90's was so synonymous with us anyway, we could have been called Lucifer's Dickwead and still be absolutely credible producing stuff like "Shores in Flames" or "Bond of Blood".

- That's one of the great things about BATHORY: whether it's primitive garage Black Metal, hell paced occult Death Metal , ten minute Epic material, crushing Hardcore or bombastic Nordic tales, it's still clearly identifiable as genuinely BATHORY.



An official Slovakian postcard depicting the remains of the Cacthice castle.

          One may wonder if the old Bloodcountess - where ever she may now be - do not rejoice over the victories won by her Scandinavian sons, and celebrated BATHORY's 20th anniversary...by filling up a tub...


©bathory.nu