Once upon a time in Sweden, a musician named Quorthon named a rock band after the Countess Bathory, who bathed in blood.
Once upon a time in Texas, in 1988 I wrote a horror novel about the Countess Bathory titled Raw Pain Max, Book 2 in my Texas Horror Trilogy (Torture Tomb, Raw Pain Max, and Fiend).
Raw Pain Max features a man and woman who love metal music. But the woman is more than she seems. She is a reincarnation of Countess Bathory.
While writing RPM, I discovered there was a rock band in Sweden named after the Countess. The song “Woman of Dark Desires” on Bathory’s Under the Sign of the Black Mark is about her. My novel needed mood-setting quotations at the beginning. A quote from a band named after the Countess would be perfect. I wrote to Bathory’s record company and asked permission to use a quote from “Woman of Dark Desires. Quorthon himself answered and said, “Quote the whole damned album, if you want!”
I wrote back and thanked him and, because he was from Sweden, as was my father, I sent him copies of my Viking sword and sorcery fantasy trilogy, Warrior Witch of Hel, Death Riders of Hel, and Werebeasts of Hel, originally published under my pen name, Asa Drake. The books tell of the adventures of a woman warrior named Bloodsong in a Viking world of Gods and Heroes.
In other letters, Quorthon talked about the “sound pictures” he was creating for a new album, Blood Fire Death. He also mentioned obtaining permission from a Swedish historical museum to play an ancient musical instrument, a Viking Age horn, to add authenticity to the album. He explained that he was trying something new. He hoped Bathory’s fans would like it. He was including normal speed-thrash metal tracks, but he was also adding tracks to express his love of his native land and its history. He was determined that Sweden’s pride in its heritage would not vanish. And so, when Bathory’s Blood Fire Death was released, Viking Metal was born.
My Viking Heroic Fantasy novels evidently struck Quorthon as having been drawn from the same Well of Inspiration as his Viking Metal music. When Blood Fire Death was released, Quorthon sent me a Bathory sweatshirt with the Blood Fire Death art, plus the vinyl album autographed by himself and the other two members of Bathory. He also sent a Bathory Hordes V.I.P. membership card. You can read a scan of the letter he sent me along with all these treasure at the bottom of this article.
Later, when Bathory released the first all Viking Metal album, Hammerheart, a masterpiece of musical creativity, in my opinion, every track a gem, I discovered to my surprise that the track titled, “One Rode to Asa Bay,” was dedicated to me, and that it referenced my Bloodsong Saga pen name, Asa Drake.
I intended to travel to Sweden and talk with him in person one day. His letters, like his music, indicated a person of high intelligence and deeply held beliefs. I recall his describing how much he loved his country’s dark forests and the way looking at the gray winter sea made him feel, and I understood. Merely looking at pictures of the things Quorthon described spawned emotions in me similar to the ones he expressed. Perhaps it is a genetic thing, some kind of Jungian ancestral memory, or maybe I have watched that vintage Kirk Douglas movie, The Vikings, too many times.
Quorthon’s unexpected death on this date fifteen years ago surprised and saddened those who knew him and all who loved his music. But perhaps we should not be sad. It is not the Viking thing to do. We should instead remember the last line of “One Rode to Asa Bay” where Quorthon says, “It’s only just begun.” And the lines of the old Viking poem called “Havamal,” that say, “Cattle die, kinfolk die, and you will die as well, but one thing I know that never dies are the memories of a far-famed hero’s life.” And Quorthon is certainly far-famed, and a hero.
But why was he taken from us so young? Vikings would remind us of a passage in their lore where Odin was asked why a famous hero was taken so young. And the God of Wisdom replied that heroes were needed in Valhalla to prepare for Ragnarok, the final war at the end of the world.
So! I like to imagine that the man who created Viking Metal is inspiring other heroes in Valhalla with his music. It is a fanciful thing to imagine, but it is the Viking thing to do.
I do wish, however, that I could send Quorthon the new Viking Heroic Fantasy novel about Bloodsong that I am now writing, because a character appeared in the story unexpectedly one day, and eventually I discovered that he thinks he might have been, in a former life, a musician from Sweden who created Viking Metal music.
Hail the Hordes!
C. Dean Andersson says, “I write Horror Novels and the Viking Heroic Fantasy of my continuing Bloodsong Saga. All of my published novels are or soon will be available as eBooks. See my bio on Amazon.com for more info.”