Sound: I want to start by saying that the most positive thing that can be said about Bathory's 'album' Octagon is that it's not quite as bad as some people claim, and yet that in itself would be untrue. If Bathory had put this out as his debut, then it would have been easy to dismiss. However, it's the seventh album in the mostly perfect discography. Hell, I'm just going to say it. It hurts to listen to. Honestly, to this day I can't even look at an octagon without sighing and hanging my head in shame. This must a joke, an experiment to prove that people will buy anything with a Bathory logo on it.
Whilst its predecessor, 1994's Reqium was made to replicate the sound of many European thrash bands such as Kreator, this follow up sounds like nothing more than a cheap attempt at trying to recreate Slayer, and failing. Quorthon's usually exceptional riffs are only decent when directly stealing from other bands, whilst Vvornth's drums are usually insane, whereas here, they've become more annoying, just like St. Anger. The production is terrible, and not good-terrible like on most black metal albums, and early Bathory albums, but it's practically unlistenable, whilst the bass drum sounds like a CD fault. But, the most tragic of all is that the flaws can't be placed solely on the production, but more squarely on Quorthon's lousy performance, songwriting and lyrics. // 2
Lyrics: Whilst Reqium attempted a snarled approach to the vocals, here Quorthon tries the singing style that worked so well on such masterpieces like Hammerheart and Twilight Of The Gods where it didn't matter that he couldn't sing. However, here it does matter, and it matters a great deal, especially on tracks like Grey which basically sees him talking really fast over thrashing riffs that should be conveying a sense of power and urgency, rather than a bored Anders Fridn trying to kill death metal even more, as he shouts lyrics like 'Your clothes will always bite big chumps out of their concrete ***'. Schizianity tries something different, showing a glimmer of hope, but ends up being even less listenable than every other track, thanks to the even worse vocal styles. And just when you thought it was all over, there's a KISS cover that's even worse than the original. // 1
Overall Impression: Octagon really is an abortion. Imagine if St. Anger made a baby with The Unspoken King... Yeah... This abortion should never have been released, but at least things went upward from here, to the point where the final two Bathory albums rank among the best he ever made. Quorthon is a talented guy, but something possessed him to release this. Whoever it was, it was certainly not the inspiring demon that influenced his classic early works. // 2