It’s been 30 years since Cronos and Venom wrote the very first metal song about Elizabeth Bathory – since then, a lot of other bands have followed in Venom’s footsteps: Ace ”Quorthon” Forsberg, Attila Chisar and his band Tormentor, Cradle of Filth, God Dethroned, Evile, Kamelot, Electric Wizard, Sunn O))), Immolith, Slayer, Forever Slave, Candlemass and Ghost – to mention a few!
Bara Metal has interviewed Venom frontman Conrad ”Cronos” Lant to get to know how it all started, one cold night in England.
Had you heard of any other bands singing about Elizabeth Bathory before you wrote Countess Bathory?
– No. I’m not aware of any other bands writing or singing about Elizabeth Bathory before I wrote the song ‘Countess Bathory’ in around the early 1980s.
So – how come you found this gruesome subject? Tell us the whole long story!
– I was first made aware of the Countess while I was at a local library in the 1970’s, years before I wrote the song. I used to plough through the psychology sections and was into reading books on the Occult, Witchcraft, Paganism, Satanism and historical figures like Vlad the Impaler, Ivan the Terrible and Alistair Crowley etc to mention a few.
– I came across the Countess during this time and was fascinated with all the controversial stories about her life, as it’s often difficult to separate the facts from the fiction.
– I came across her again as Countess Dracula in the Hammer Films although I wasn’t immediately aware this character was based on the real life person. Then I saw a documentary about controversial historical figures and they mentioned Elizabeth Bathory, and suggested that Hammer may have twisted the facts somewhat to associate her with the Dark Queen, in a similar way they merged the characteristics of Vlad Tepe’s with the Count, Count Dracula that is, to make a story half believable.
– Through the Venom songs over the years I’ve wrote about the obvious Sex, Drugs and Rock n Roll with the added ingredients of Satanism and Witchcraft etc, although I do like to write about factual figures as well, as I find certain people absolutely fascinating, with incredible stories of horror and suffering as well as lust, greed, envy, passion and pain.
– Elizabeth Bathory of course is such a powerful story, albeit that there still seems to be a lot unknown and maybe guessed elements to her life and what she did or did not do or say. There’s the idea she bathed in the blood of virgins in the belief it would help retain her youth, these extreme lengths I’m sure some of the ‘youth obsessed, vanity driven celebrity culture’ narcissistic women of today would go to if they thought it would work for them too and could get away with it. I can just imagine the likes of Jordan or Madonna paying their henchmen a king’s ransom to go out on the town in the evenings to round up and lure young impressionable girls into their lairs, on the promise of free liposuction or botox session and a photo shoot for a top magazine cover, then slicing their throats and harvesting their blood ready for their evening bath. Hmmm? I hope they don’t get any bright ideas.
– Back to Milady. It’s quite disturbing when you think of the scene when – as some reports suggest – they eventually got too suspicious of where the hundreds of missing girls, who entered but never left her castle, had got to, then found out their dead bodies were all bricked up in her walls throughout the castle. What an insane scene that must have been, when they started to smash the walls down and hundreds or thousands of dead bodies in varying stages of deterioration started falling out from behind the bricks. When I read this I thought “did the castle not stink of decaying flesh?” Or ”if the brickwork was so good it stopped the smell, then the stink when they finally smashed the walls down must have been horrendous?”
– Anyway, I guess you get the picture, her story is perfect for heavy metal lyrics, and as my mother always said “fact is often stranger than fiction”, so what better lyrics than a story of a real person, as it’s more fascinating than fiction any day.
Are you aware of the trend you have started – there are plenty of Bathory songs nowadays.
– I heard rumours of other heavy metal bands supposedly writing lyrics recently about Elizabeth Bathory, and I heard that Ingrid Pitt, may she Rast In Peace, who played the Countess in the Hammer Films may have been involved in one of the bands videos before her death, great stuff, Ms Bathory’s story is such an interesting one that I’m sure its not the last we’ve heard of her.