Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Bathory - Discography Review Part II - 95%

GermanSteel, May 3rd, 2018

Hello once again! Bathory, The Discography Review Part II is finally here! first things first, I like this album more than their self titled, as I said in my first review about Bathory's releases after the first. This album really in my opinion is their darkest and most EVIL release they have ever put out, and that is not just a play on the title of the album,happy accident haha. Anyways without further ado, I bring you BATHORY! THE RETURN... This album really laid down the foundation for the dark sound of black metal, for this album was way ahead of it's time. What I like about this album is it isn't afraid to scare the shit out of christian listeners with it's purposefully dark sound and lyrics.

The album really packs a punch for those just getting into black metal and is definitely a marvelous introduction to extreme metal as a whole for anyone who is interested. The album has a certain atmosphere as well as maintaining it's aggressive features from the previous album.This is the first first wave album that actually has an authentic black metal sound and incorporates all the themes of modern black metal. The vocals are evil and make the whole experience really creepy like black metal is meant to be. Even though Bathory's self titled album introduced the whole satanic lyrical concept, this album has a thick, dark atmosphere that outshines the factor of lyricism because most people don't pay all of their attention to the lyrics, especially when listening to black or death metal, they pay attention to how it sounds.

The sound of this album is what really makes it great to listen to because the production is excellent and it sounds like a demon (Named Quorthon) is on vocals. The guitar riffs and the vocals match perfectly and really emphasize the overall heaviness and darkness of the release. For being released in 1985, this album was like a look into the future for those following the first wave of black metal in the mid 80s because it was so intensely aggressive and heavy but still had that dark cult-ish sound that started in the late 70s and early 80s. The Return may not be my favorite album, but it's definitely up there with my most beloved albums of all time. When I first listened to this album, I had literal goosebumps because of how dark it is, just thinking about at the time made me shiver! To think that black metal started with just this one guy is pure fucking insanity.

The influence that The Return has on black metal and extreme metal as a whole is nearly indescribable because of the pure genius that went into it. The soul-sucking darkness and malevolent riffs will tear a new hole in your fucking heart. Every track on this album is a symbol of Quorthon's ingenuity when it comes to music, the 8 tracks that is album contains are all flawlessly written and produced like it was meant to be legendary but then again, unknowingly at the same time. This release, like most metal releases was most likely unwelcome in many households due to how dark it sounds. Even the album cover and logo are absolutely perfect and dark as it should be, but I've always wondered whose actually doing the artwork? The album covers for their entire discography look inhuman but sick at the same time.

Now, I hate to, but I must discuss some of the "negative" qualities of this release (if there are any). The only thing I can really think of is kinda similar to the debut, sometimes there is a bit of monotony. With this album I don't mind as much because the entire album is supposed to sound dark and evil, so it is understandable that there is a lack of variety. The album focuses on two aspects : thrashing aggression and dark atmosphere. The intro, Revelation Of Doom really sets the atmosphere for the whole album and kinda gives away what genre this album is going to be. The atmosphere stays with the rest of the album and the vocals feed off the darkness.

Now my favorite part! the positive qualities! Now, I would say "Everything" but this is a review and I have to be specific. But what I just said is kind of true, I have NO issues with this album whatsoever especially since I love every single album Bathory has ever released. This album has many good qualities, kind of repeating what I said before, but the atmosphere is an excellent quality and the aggressive thrash riffs make this entire album. Sound is EVERYTHING, and The Return has a way with dark and beautiful sounds. The album has a somewhat raw production, considering it was released in 1985 but it is still beautiful.

Talking about my favorite band is somewhat difficult, because I want to say so many good things but don't want the review to be too long! I love this album and this band so much, I just have to say a lot about them both! Sadly, I must wrap the review up because I've said pretty much everything I can about the album. For anyone new to black metal, I highly recommend this diamond, it is a dark masterpiece with a lot to offer and you will not be disappointed.

Thank you for reading my review, and expect a part III to come here shortly because I am committed to reviewing the entire discography, album by album.

The Beginning...... - 86%

TrooperEd, July 15th, 2017

One tends to notice that of the early Bathory records, the self titled and Under The Sign of the Black Mark get the most praise. This one gets suspiciously ignored. Usually the complaints are lauded at the production. I certainly hope these aren’t the same people that love Transilvanian Hunger and Filosofem for their minimalism, because minimalism is sort of a point for black metal. Yes the production and the guitar sound is a little odd, but that doesn’t stop it from being a great record. You could almost argue that this is the first true black metal album because while the ideas aren’t as streamlined as on Black Mark, most of the Venom tendencies are gone, and the fast sections are played faster than Slayer would ever hope to do, even in 1985! Songwriting wise, it’s has a tad more variety than the first album, but it’s not the plethora of different ideas as on Black Mark. In fact that’s pretty much this album in a nutshell, better than the first album, but not quite as good as the one that came after it.

There are definitely some moments on here that can be considered thrash. Born For Burning seems more like it belongs on Show No Mercy or Infernal Overkill than Worship Him. But that's A-Ok because Show No Mercy fucking owns. Who said thrash tendencies were a bad thing? There's the thrash break in Sadist, which is a rev up the mosh-pit moment if I've ever heard one. Bestial Lust is kinda thrashy but with more of a speed metal feel to it, almost like something that Exodus would have written for Bonded By Blood Rite of Darkness/Reap of Evil (yes its one song dammit) is certainly the most dynamic track which certainly feature thrash moments both fast and slow, just behold the practically triple time transition into the songs second half, followed by the breakdown that is so minimalist yet so heavy the musicians themselves seemed to forget where the time was. Then of course, there is the album's finest moment, the title track, which just rips face, flesh and bone with that intro riff. Plus who could forget that anthem like chorus? Anyone who felt traditional song-structures had no place in black metal is a fucking idiot, and this is exhibit A.

Of course, the lead guitar is excellent. It is simple, yet fierce. It is shredding, yet melodic. Virtuosity will always have a place in metal, but sometimes its better to do what is necessary. Quorthon's lead guitar style can best be described as imagining Eric Clapton was born a decade or so later in Sweden and had a penchant for virgin sacrifices. At times there seems like there are only maybe 3 or 4 notes total in his solos but he utilizes them very effectively. Inversely, it seems as though Stefan Larsson and Andreas can barely meet the necessary competency for their instruments. Yet, the struggling rhythm section fits the album perfectly. This is what truly gives this album its black mark. Especially during the fast songs like Total Destruction; such an effort to gel yet not quite establishes an off-center feel which will make first time, as well as veteran listeners extremely uneasy. Of course this approach would be perfected on Pleasure To Kill but now I'm just discussing measly semantics.

If there is a flaw here its that the intro, Revelation of Doom just goes on for too long, similar to the previous album's intro track. There's establishing atmosphere and then there's overcooking the chicken to the point where its dryer than a scorpion's cunt. Although at least this time it's more dynamic, relying on feedback and tortured screams and not just the same blustery day loop on repeat. Quorthon would hit the sweet spot with Nocturnal Obeisance, under a minute, which sets up the vicious scare perfectly.

The Return (of the Darkness & Evil) is one of two albums I would recommend newcomers to Bathory and black metal purchase first. While the debut has an infamous reputation, there was still a low rent Venom feel that it never completely shook off. But this? This is where black metal gained the blueprint which everyone afterwards would follow.

Recommended tracks:
The Return of The Darkness & Evil
Born For Burning
Rite of Darkness/Reap of Evil

One of the most evil album of the 80s - 100%

DesecratorJ, May 29th, 2017

The year 1985 was overall one of the greatest in the history of heavy metal music. Tons of bands were spawning around the globe and bringing many different sound perspectives. Bathory were among them, and really succeeded, to say the least. Here we see the release of their second studio album called "The Return......", and as Quorthon said, the full title is "The Return of the Darkness and Evil". This name totally represent what you would expect from the album just by looking at the cover art. Let's say that when listening to this album, you are not in the same game anymore then the self-titled album. In 1985 saw a great competition going on, which was who play the most evil, satanic, dark and aggressive music in the metal scene?

Well, now that Bathory had an album out, they were a known act in the underground scene and had already a fan base. Quorthon looked up what was going on elsewhere on the globe, other bands such as Slayer, Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Celtic Frost were also part of the game. After hearing tracks from bands like those, he decided to choose another path and change the sound for that record by doing something that was more original. That was quite successful, because this album sounds totally different from what was going on by this time. It definitely beat out all releases of that year in terms of evilness and darkness, from there comes a more realistic way of defining the black metal genre that the scenes of the 90s used as an influence later on.

The album begins with an typical intro like on the previous one, but "Revelation of Doom" is even darker and I may also add a better fit into the atmosphere intended for the album. After getting you into obscurity, the album kick off with the song "Total Destruction", and this is probably one of the best way to blow off the listener with speed, aggression, brutality and even with catchy passages. All the songs featured on the album have a short length, averaging the 3 minutes. There's one exception though, the track "Born for Burning" show us with a 5 minutes the progress made in the band by gaining experience in songwriting. It's basically the only song without a fast-paced tempo, but contain one of the most memorable lyrics and chorus of the album. While tracks such as "Bestial Lust (Bitch)" still have similarities with what you can hear on the first record. The sound and production quality on "The Return......" is somewhat better than on the s/t. This album wasn't recorded in the "Heaven Shore Studio" and is the only exception of all the recordings of Bathory during the 80s. Instead, this one was done in the same studio as the two tracks from the "Scandinavian Metal Attack" compilation album. The "The Return of the Darkness and Evil" track also appeared on the compilation, but was played much slower than the actual version on the official record.

Musically speaking, It's an overall improvement in every way, distancing himself abit from the Motorhead influence, the guitar playing of Quorthon is again top notch and still contains the cool improvised solos, the drums are even better than before. There we have some cool drumming beats actually, just a listen to "Total Destruction" and "Reap of Evil" will show you what I mean. The bass guitar this time is now correctly audible, I can even say that it's one of the best mixed album of its genre... It's just the perfect atmosphere and tone, it wouldn't have been so good without this sort of production. Quorthon's vocals are darker and evil with small added backing vocals in some songs that you will notice easily. While lyrically similar to its predecessor, he added some personal touch to it, like sex fantasies he had with a girl if i can say it that way... But in general, it's a bit more worked and shows some brilliant words in its own blasphemic art.

In closing, I absolutely recommend anyone who are into the darker side of metal music to look up to this album. It has often been hidden below its successor "Under The Sign of the Black Mark" as the incontestable black metal album of the 80s, but "The Return......" definitely helped to define the genre and is worthy of being considered as a classic and must heard album. Clocking at nearly 37 minutes with its fantastic 11 tracks, it's a well worthy time spent and memorable enough to listen to it over and over again.

Highlights :

Bestial Lust (Bitch)
Born for Burning
Reap of Evil
The Wind of Mayhem
Total Destruction

An underestimated classic - 100%

langXhan222, March 21st, 2017

Black metal fans will no doubt hail this album above the self-titled debut for a number of reasons. The Return abandons the punk/thrash offerings of the previous effort and delves into somewhat unchartered territory, at the time into a more definitive, deconstructivist black metal style. It is an obvious derivative for vintage Immortal, yet another example of Bathory's influence as a first wave black metal band. The compositions are much longer, with more atmosphere and more varied structural components, even including some polyrhythmic elements.

The Return also introduces some ritualistic, layered guitar work that would serve as fodder for many second wave bands, the most noticeable being Burzum. The lyrics are written in all persons and have gotten more 'evil', this time around, with concepts of lust and overt sadism thrown into the mix, a diversification from the declarative tone and slightly one-dimensional wash of Quorthon's previous work.

"Revelation of Doom" is by far the longest intro, standing at over 3 minutes. Totally blows Storm of Damnation away from the previous album, and sets and even darker mood than any other Bathory intro would achieve. Evil is one word that sums up "Possessed", this is total speed and aggression, nothing more and nothing less. I couldn't have thought of a better title for a song such as this, the chorus is insane, as Quorthon tones his growl into that of the devil himself, and the ending solo is mind blowing. "Bestial Lust" was dedicated to a girl that Quorthon fucked who was actually into bestial sex. The song is thriving with speed, aggression and pure lust, one of the definite highlights of the álbum. Quorthon's shouts in "Reap of Evil", just as a total thrash assault breaks out onto the listener. Yeah, it does slow down a bit afterward, only to make way for a spoken narrative that sounds as if it came up from hell itself. Overall, this one hell is a thrashing work of art.

The songs are much faster and more aggressive and indeed amazing, but "only" in the literal sense of the term. Beyond its intimidating qualities and historical value, probably there are not many ingredients that make it interesting for most demanding metalheads. The drums are obsessed and invariable and the solos are totality unpresentable, especially in "The Wind of Mayhem". Quorthon, with his irreproachable and thundering throat, fulfills his function by far, remembering Cronus a bit, but without the lascivious point and with much darker tint.

But above all, The Return is an essential album, like his other 80's albums, and its influence is apparent, even to the greenest black metal follower. Bathory has opened the gates of hell.

Sandwiched - 80%

Felix 1666, July 12th, 2016
Written based on this version: 1985, 12" vinyl, Black Mark Production

"The Return......" is in a difficult situation. It is framed by the groundbreaking debut and Quorthon's undisputed masterpiece "Under the Sign of the Black Mark". Compared with these mind-blowing classics, "The Return" (forgive me for neglecting the dots from now on) is eking out a meagre existence. But in relation to any other album of Quorthon, his second work is a real gem, a magnificent triumph of creativity and relevance. As a matter of course, Viking fans will disagree. Well, I admit that "Blood Fire Death" houses two fantastic tracks, but seen through the eyes of a black / thrash fan, Bathory never reached the form of their first three albums again. Only a few early non-album tracks such as "Satan My Master" or "Burning Leather" trample some pieces of "The Return" into the dust.

The atmospheric cover was an eye-catcher. Back in 1985, it distinguished itself from many artworks that showed bloodthirsty or ugly scenarios. Nevertheless, this was the only element of "The Return", which "normal" people would have described as aesthetic. Anyway, sick weirdos find a lot more nice details. In terms of music, Quorthon was still influenced by Venom. Songs like "Bestial Lust (Bitch)" could not hide the fact that he had drunken from Cronos' chalice, which had naturally been filled with a very exquisite cocktail of blood, sperm and alcohol. Lines like "She is hot and drives me wild and still she is open wide / Just when this torture seems to end / She is there to drain my sove again" were obviously inspired by tracks such as "Lady Lust" and the laughter at the beginning also indicated Quorthon's inspiration. Additionally, the break between "Rite of Darkness" and "Reap of Evil" was a slavish imitation of the bridge that connected "Buried Alive" and "Raise the Dead". Yet it has to be said that he had begun to emancipate himself. A certain number of tracks did not show an evident link between his and Venom's approach.

The songs were still aggressive, but less grim than that of the debut. The dull yet more or less unique guitar sound created a less satanic aura, but this does not mean that "The Return" lacked of power or violence. Quorthon had nothing but contempt for any kind of filigree or fragile lines and he tortured his guitar in a very coarse way. Nevertheless, he knew how to impress the audience. Despite or exactly because of the primitiveness of his riffs, songs like the programmatic "Total Destruction" with its staccato riffs and vocals or the furious and impulsive "The Winds of Mayhem" hit the nail on the head in the most efficient manner. Not to mention the most evil number of the album; the sombre title track built a bridge to the most malicious pieces of the debut. Its density, ferocity and cruelty set new standards. If Quorthon had intended to demonstrate his affinity for sonic bestiality, then he was absolutely successful, no doubt at all. Nevertheless and almost unbelievable, there exists an even better version of this song; Cruel Force, please allow me this patriotic remark, have proven that Quorthon was not fully aware of the potential of his own composition.

In comparison with the obstinate yet totally excellent debut, the Swedish lone wolf offered more variable song patterns. A few number of breaks was incorporated and tempo changes also occurred every now and then. Perhaps due to this slightly more fastidious approach, not each and every track sent me shivers down my spine. However, the album had some very dark vibes and, when excluding the completely useless intro, it did not suffer from any manifest fillers. Even the almost amateurish awkwardness of the main riff of "Sadist (Tormentor)" had a certain charm, although the song fought a losing battle in comparison with the highlights of "The Return". Speaking of the best tracks, I have forgotten to mention the inquisitorial "Born for Burning", a relatively relaxed mid-tempo piece with catchy riffs. Only its ending was a little bit too long. So what. "The Return" was a strong full-length, neither flawlessly produced - just think of the guitar sound and the vocals with an extra dose of reverb on it - nor compositionally sophisticated, but highly effective. Anyway, Bathory's larger-than-life album was yet to come. Rest in piece, Quorthon.

Total destruction!!! - 89%

dismember_marcin, March 23rd, 2013

1986 was a year of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, but somewhere else at that time, far in the North of the European continent, in Sweden, the freezing winds and Northern darkness has brought something maybe not as radioactive and lethal as that nuclear force, which the Eastern wind was bringing from the Ukrainian territory back then, but surely equally destructive… Bathory has finally spawned their second LP, “The Return…”!!! It was only a year after the release of Bathory’s highly acclaimed self titled debut LP, but from the first listen one can notice a development in Quorthon’s music. While the first LP was more or less Venom and Motorhead worship (although I have no idea whether Quorthon was actually ever influenced by Venom or not), but played in more evil and faster way, then “The Return…” came out as even more obscure, more malevolent, vicious and evil record. When I listen to “The Return…” I can clearly see, where the Norwegian sound of black metal mainly came from. I mean the riffing, as well as the harsh, raw, shrieking vocals and utterly dark and raw production of this second album of Bathory must have been the main source of influence for the whole early 90’s generation of Norwegian bands, including Darkthrone, Satyricon, Hades, Burzum, etc. That itself is enough proof I guess for importance of “The Return…” and surely if anyone wants to know where the sound of the second wave of black metal come from, he must go back to the real roots of it and this album is an obvious choice.

I don’t think that “The Return…” is yet a perfect record (such definitely is “Under the Sign of Black Mark”, in my opinion, an utter black metal masterpiece). There are few parts where I can say that the level of brilliance is not exactly there on the top, but only slightly, as all in all this album nails me down to the floor right from its very beginning, which is a creepy intro, “Revelation of Doom”, up to its final and also definite finest moment, which is “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”. That sole song is enough reason to get this album, as in my opinion it belongs to the most memorable and finest, most important tracks in the history of metal music. I sincerely can say that I love this track; its simple, but effective riffs and structures and obviously every time I listen to it I just must scream the lyrics from the chorus part. This is what I call cult. Another song which stands above the rest is “Born for Burning”. Think what you want, but for me this is essential early Bathory and definitely this particular track holds some of the best riffs and ideas Quorthon had in that early period of Bathory's existence. Again, a very memorable, catchy as fuck chorus and again a very morbid and obscure atmosphere. Phenomenal stuff!

But honestly I could mention almost the entire track list here and each of these songs is great. Take “Total Destruction” for instance – a barbaric, violent, and totally aggressive demonstration of what Bathory was all about. And “Bestial Lust (Bitch)” is a clear continuation of the style from the first record, again with the strong resemblance to some Venom all the way through. I can assume that some of you may feel slightly pushed away by the primitiveness of songs like “Possessed”…this one, maybe my least favourite song from the whole LP, has almost troglodytic riffing and the whole structure of this track is as simple as it can only be, but it doesn’t really matter as the atmosphere, which Bathory managed to create here, is one of a kind. And if one’s a bit bored by this song, then maybe “The Rite of Darkness” and “Son of the Damned” will make you feel better? Also, I must say that I really like what Quorthon’s vocals are like on “The Return…”. They’re very harsh, raw, and utterly morbid, the kind of singing that fits the obscure music perfectly. Total destruction it is!

Standout tracks: “The Return of the Darkness and Evil”, “Born for Burning”, “Total Destruction”.
Final rate: 89/100

A sorcery written in blood - 78%

autothrall, January 16th, 2012

To dub The Return... a disappointment would be like condescending to a good massage after a fit of passionate, memorable intercourse. It sure feels good, but it just cannot match the climactic intensity and release you were experiencing just a few minutes earlier. Or in the case of Swedish abomination Bathory, a year earlier. Don't get me wrong: The Return... is a puerile, forceful and even brutal album. I'd state with a straight face that it was more savage, primal, atmospheric and barbaric than its predecessor. But the riffs here are just not as good, the energy level somewhat curbed and a bit more emphasis on the weight and rock-groove of the guitars than the sheer blitz of dirty speed metal that dominated Bathory. That album was a straight razor of sinister intentions, this is more of a vulgar machete with a mildly dulled edge.

The band was still in a trio format, though Andreas Johansson replaced Rickard Bergman on the bass. The intro and outro play out much the same as on the s/t. "Revelation of Doom" is a bit creepier than "Storm of Damnation" due to the more roiling torrents of guitar distortion and the pronounced, if distant looped screams, but I still feel as if it just goes on too long. Give me just a minute of this, or cause something more to happen, because even in the span of 3 and a half minutes I grew a little tired of it, and the hidden :25 second outro is too brief and useless to stir up any reaction. There are a few songs which I found spiritual successors to the first album, like "Bestial Lust" or "The Return of the Darkness and Evil", the latter having some similarities to a straight Slayer speed thrasher ("Chemical Warfare") with corpulent tremolo picking in primal but menacing patterns. Most of Quorthon's snarling and rasping is well in line with the identity he had manifest earlier, but I actually found that it had less of a ghastly, wavering character and more of a focused, cutting grimness to it that was marginally less effective.

However, he does occasionally add some spice to the mix like the expansive backup gutturals in the chorus of "Born for Burning", or the more ritualistic growls in "Reap of Evil". Considering how few bands were using the style at the time, it's no wonder that The Return... is cited an influence upon the death metal genre as well as the black. Back in the early through mid 80s, a boundary of distinction had yet to really be drawn, so they shared a lot with Hellhammer in that small class of progenitors that transcended simple categorization. But what I find pretty clear about The Return... is that it has a far more muscled punk or hardcore influence than its predecessor. Songs like "The Rite of Darkness", "Sadist", "Son of the Damned" and "Total Destruction" brandish a lot of open, grooving chords that crash back and forth along the axis of the semi-burst beats. They'll often incorporate some solid mid-paced pure thrash riffs ("Born for Burning" and "Sadist", for example), but I rarely found any of the note progressions here to be as searing or diabolically enthusiastic as a "Sacrifice" or "Necromancy".

Aesthetically, The Return... is brighter and more dynamic than the generally moody darkness prevalent on the s/t album, and here there is really no contention as to its influence on a metric shit ton of later DIY black metal recordings in the underground. Once more it's produced by Quorthon and Boss, so it stands out from the mainstream in that Bathory never had the purse or the desire for tracking down some big name producer and wider cultural acceptance. Almost messy in its determination to tear and bludgeon the listener's brain, but the bass a fraction less pronounced (in both volume and composition) than it had been before. The drums seem a lot more crashing akin to the later Blood Fire Death, lacking that subtler constant tinniness that permeated the debut, and I found that the actual structure of the guitars very often serves as a foreshadowing to that later, monumental masterwork.

In the end, though, this is really no more than a 'good' black/thrash metal album. Worth owning if you love Bathory, worth owning if you enjoy the primordial sounds that would stretch and settle into the style so many enjoy and emulate today, but it's not possessive of their best material. It's louder and about 10 minutes longer than Bathory, and the lyrics on par, but those are the only areas in which some physical aspect matches or exceeds its forebear. I can't think of any legitimate reason why I'd break this out over any of their other 80s full-lengths, but it's probably on par with all of those later works upon which Quorthon decided he was a 'singer'. Fun enough for frenetic sessions of head banging, appreciable for its place in the canon, but it's no Deathcrush, To Mega Therion or Under the Sign of the Black Mark.


I see a bad moon rising. - 94%

Sigillum_Dei_Ameth, August 1st, 2011

Sweden for the most part has always had a healthy metal scene, even from the get-go. In the 80's, alongside Candlemass and may be Artch, there was one band that literally blew the standards away as far as what could come from the land of frost; Bathory. First album? Classic. Can't even mention the genre of black metal without mentioning that or the follow-up to this album "Under The Sign of The Black Mark," but that's another review yet to write and discuss. If their first album was about setting the standards as far as how well one could make Venom seem like a joke (gotta remember at the time this was released, Venom was still believed to be actual Satanists...), and if their third album really set the freezing winds blowing from the north a good handful of years before the fires warmed things up in Norway...then "The Return" was nothing but an expression of lo-fi black metal EVIL, and actually the first of it's kind too. Before Sarcofago, before Darkthrone, before Beherit, before Xasthur-worshiping Myspace bedroom bands and ecological hipsters made it more acceptable...Bathory's second album was the first in capturing the "necro" sound and blackened heart of black metal.

"The Return" is really the best example of a band progressing; more specifically mainman Quorthon really pushing himself with trying to basically out-do Venom at their own game; and then some. He did it. Remember how Venom use to print the lyrics/poems on the backs of their first 3 lps? Well Quorthon pulled a rabbit out of his hat and did as such: "We wanted people to just read out "The Return..." – as in a second album or a follow-up – and then flip the album over to look for a tracking list. Not finding one, what they got was this apocalyptic poem with the song titles woven into it. Only after listening through the album to the end would you get the full title of the album; The Return of the Darkness and Evil" Quorthon. So in other words "U mad? Problem?"(actually, I think this applies more to Venom than Bathory, seeing how Quorthon managed to pull a second leg of damn good albums compared to enom's only first 3 which I even consider listening to) This must have fucked with metalheads of ancient yore making them scratch their noggins like monkeys.

There's not much of a difference between this one and the classic self-titled outside's more extreme? It's more evil? More atmospheric? More of everything. I know for years I couldn't listen to this because it sounds raw as fuck compared to the 1rst and 3rd Bathory albums. Even to this day, the sound production is something only a few bands from the could actually mimic. I mean....a certain postal worker with a niche for everything 'primitive' knew how to fucking do it and carried on their legacy for an entire new generation in the 90's. Watain even managed to capture the 'aura' of early Bathory. Nifelheim dragged it through the ice of it's wintery domain. Even The Crown knew the infernal darkness of what it was and paid tribute to it most of it's underrated career. It essentially is like watching an old Hammer Horror movie, grainy, rusty, bleak, and atmospheric. It sounds like it was recorded in a cave and damn it...I cannot get enough of it. Even the song structures, it has hints of NWOBHM, Hardcore Punk, but Quorthon went for broke and added this infernal ambiance that really gave a new meaning. So many great songs; "Total Destruction," "Born For Burning," "The Return," "Possessed," etc. Something beyond hypnotic about those cuts.

This is one of those hypnotizing albums that you can listen to all day long and not get bored with. So YES this is a must own.The fucking album cover alone should make you want to listen to it. And still after listening to this about 5673920298484576349237385795789.7856345763756384 times, I still want to scream at the top of my lungs "IT'S THE RETURN OF DARKNESS AND EVIL, IT'S THE RETURN OF FIRE AND PAIN!"

The 2nd storm hits even harder. - 91%

hells_unicorn, June 20th, 2011

There’s something about the frosty landscapes and dark horizons of Scandinavian metal, of any style or persuasion that tantalizes the minds of esoteric listeners. However, the origins of what would later become a highly artful and complex sub-genre started off as most prototypes tend to, a simplistic and profane exercise in sheer rebellion against established sensibilities. While many occult obsessed early metal bands from Sabbat to Venom and also Mercyful Fate were onto this idea pretty early in the game, Bathory’s early work is where a true extreme was discovered. Early Sodom, Slayer and Destruction could also be pointed to as culprits in the development of the style, but if a clear line is to be drawn, Quorthon’s wicked opening trilogy shows the most clarity of succession from heavy metal to what was heard in Norway and a few other countries in the early 90s, and perhaps also to an extent some of the more mystical sounding death metal bands of the late 80s.

In contrast to the debut, where the riff set was still largely infused by NWOBHM orthodoxy and a slight helping of punk rock sensibilities, “The Return…..” paints a much bleaker sonic reality that takes into account the switch in conventional thinking that occurred on “Ride The Lightning” and “Haunting The Chapel”, albeit with the same lo-fi, frosty production where fuzz still trumps posh. Many of these songs have a chaotic nature to them, fed in part by a deeper and heavier riff set, that all but predicts the blazing mayhem that would typify the extreme fringes of thrash metal from 1986-87, while still maintaining a very barebones approach of a simple handful of ideas and the same frenzied soloing style that merges the melodic tendencies of metal with the sloppiness of more shred-happy punk soloists. It’s very easy to see where Nocturno Culto and Abbath got their noise driven, frenetic lead style from when listening to this, right down to roughly the same overall character of the guitar distortion.

While quite revolutionary for 1985, this is an album that is pretty formulaic in nature, and largely builds upon the existing template of the first album. Along with beginning and ending with predictably creepy ambient tracks that reek of early 80s horror movie worship, most of these songs generally follow strict structural standards that is far more primitive than what most thrash bands were dabbling with by this point. Nevertheless, “Total Destruction”, “Possessed” and “Sadist” captures, in a more basic fashion, a sense of murky darkness fit for the cannibalistic undead. And even amongst the more mid-paced thrash sounding numbers such as “Born For Burning” and “The Rite Of Darkness”, the mood doesn’t get much brighter than the doom and gloom of a typical Hellhammer tune. But in terms of an out and out memorable song that will please just about everyone, the catchy yet wildly speedy “The Return Of Darkness And Evil” is a metallic celebration fit for any thrash fan.

For 1985, this is among the most ugly yet beautiful piece of filthy, blackened brilliance to be put together, and is rivaled chiefly by what preceded and what followed by the same band. It’s an almost perfect manifesto for just about every straight up, non-hyphenated album under the black metal moniker to be released. What it lacks in theatrics (something that would be addressed on the next album), it makes up for in sheer, unfettered aggression. By today’s standards, it comes off as archaic and still heavily bound by pre-death metal practices, but it’s difficult to imagine how something like this came across at the height of glam rock’s reign on the airwaves. For any black or thrash metal enthusiast, historically oriented or otherwise, this is a must have.

The songs were great but the performance…. - 60%

morbert, August 13th, 2008

Honesty compels me to say this is my least favorite Bathory album from the eighties. And the reason solely lies in the performance. I wouldn’t know if there are new re-mastered versions of this album around on which the performance was digitally set straight. My my old eighties version sounds like crap. And I find this to be a real bummer.

Because, as said, some compositions here are marvellous! This album balances between the evil materpiece “Under The Sign” and their rocking straight forward debut. I know the background of the album. The circumstances under which it was recorded, 3 months after the infamous “Necronomicon/Maleficarum” sessions, the fact that during the recordings they had to fire bassplayer Andreas 'Adde' Johansson due to drug abuse. But still that can be no excuse for the performance here.

I don’t know wether Quorthon was too hasty and couldn’t get his farter parts played straight over the raging drums or the drums were just too sloppily played anyway. Eitherway, the interaction between drums and guitar seems lost on all fast sections of the album. They’re all over the place.

Now if I take the song “The Return of the Darkness and Evil” it would be the most obvious example. I’ve known and played the ‘original’ version from the Scandinavian Metal Attack album hundreds of times. Hell, I ever covered that version! But the version on this album is twice as fast, killing the drive and rhythm of the original riffs and vocal lines. And secondly, not played very tightly.

But if I listen closely as well to the rest of the songs, I can hear the hidden qualities of the compositions. There are some marvellous riffs and vocal lines and ‘on paper’ these songs are simply great. The album will forever give me mixed feelings. It could have been so much better.

Quorthon's Return... - 88%

CHRISTI_NS_ANITY8, April 7th, 2008

Just one year passed and Quorthon is back with an another great release and big influence for the worldwide black metal scene. In the same year another group came into the scene like a tornado: Possessed with Seven Churches. There were a lot of differences between these two groups but, in their way, they contribute in changing something in metal. If Kreator, Sepultura and, partially, the already cited Possessed were important for the death metal genre, this “The Return…” is another milestone for the black metal one.

After a short intro, “Total Destruction” explodes with its burden of violence, speed and malevolence. The production is far better than the debut and Quorthon, as a musician, grew enough to give a more impact to the song, starting to create truly a personal form and approach. The riffs are in pure death/black metal style with the inevitable influences from thrash metal and Hellhammer. The vocals are blacker here, so more screamed even if they’re not excessive, keeping that Cronos touch. The things change when the group decides to point on the mid paced, pure evil, doom parts. “Born For Burning” is an example with down tempo and rituals atmosphere.

“The Winds Of Mayhem” is full of raw up tempo; with the snare drum, the bass drum and the cymbal played together, on the same beat. This is a real, primordially example of black metal with screamed vocals. The sounds and the tempos on “Bestial Lust” are more punk/thrash metal style with plenty of open chords riffs, fast sections and the mythical, clean, sharp solos sounds. After another fast black metal attack like “Possessed”, it’s time for “The Rites Of Darkness” to bring the down tempo again in an atmosphere always more and more apocalyptic, satanic and gloom. This is a great song and my favourite one here, because it’s better structured in its simplicity and evilness. You can really taste what black metal was about during the 80s.

Without a second to relax, “Reap Of Evil” destroys our ears with a massive dose of up tempo, growl vocals from hell and doom parts. The palm muting guitars parts are more canonical thrash and this thing signs an improvement in technique; but it’s only during the savage, open chords riffs parts that the band shows the most evil side. If you want to know where groups like Immortal, Mayhem or Dark Throne took the inspiration for the guitars sound, check out the great “Sadist” with a raw, long part at the beginning and a quite sudden (also for the sound) massive thrash riff on the mid paced tempo.

The final, fast as a train, “The Return Of Darkness And Evil” (with a great, more epic refrain), ends this second black metal opus by one of the biggest revelations at the time and one of the best metal bands of all time: Bathory.

The Return... - 93%

IronHell666, February 5th, 2008

This is the first Bathory record I got my hands on and I was forever changed that cold fall day.

The intro seems worthless to some but I think it is a good way for building suspense and creating a sense of tension. "Total Destruction" completely annihilates you when listening. The production sounds very raw and this is the type of sound that influenced bands for decades to come. Somehow, it is raw and heavy at the same time which is something you don't hear often.

"Born for Burning" is a thrashing classic! On this album, Bathory really killed any other band that even thought of being in the same class. This destroys Venom and annihilates Hellhammer in every way!

To hit this in a song by song way is useless but it must be told that this album is the blueprint for black metal. There are tons of really fast riffs and other thrashy ones that really break it up and make this very easy to digest. Also worth remembering are the great little solos. Not many use guitar solos in black metal but Quorthon does it very well.

The guitar sound is not as trebly as on the first album. There are less Motorhead-inspired riffs on here as well. This is altogether darker and more evil than the first album could ever have hoped to be. The mood is black as night on every single track. There are still a few moments of rock and roll to be found, but not as much as on the debut.

The vocals are very raspy and sound evil as hell. Compared to Quorthon, Cronos and Tom Warrior may as well have been singing like Vince Neil because this is the voice of death itself!

Songs like "Possessed" and "Sadist" are very memorable and wicked but it is the final song, "The Return of the Darkness and Evil", that really pays homage to the eternal throne of Satan. This song fades in and is true mayhem all the way through. the song is very catchy for being so fast and evil, but that is the mark of Quorthon's genius.

I think what he would accomplish on "Under the Sign of the Black Mark" would surpass this, but for the time being Bathory had just created the masterpiece of black metal and one of the most influentual albums of all time.

Best songs: Born for Burning, The Return of the Darkness and Evil


CLASSIC!!! - 97%

GoatRitual, June 9th, 2006

Let me start off with this. If you haven't heard or at least heard of this album before, or have not heard of this BAND, then you better get with it, buddy.

Absolutely classic release from the mind of Quorthon, most certainly the first hero of the evil Black Metal world. What I refer to as the evil one is the real one, not synth worship fakes.

The album starts off on an upward musical progression built upon audible doom. The title is perfect - "Revelation of Doom". The second track commences with some raw old-school riffing in the black/thrash vein.

"Born for Burning" is a perfect example of how Bathory worship bands like Toxic Holocaust achieve a certain sound, but it will never be what Bathory once was!! Fucking destructive song patterns, raw guitar work in Satan's name, and blasting drums. This is black metal in its earliest form of even the slightest evolution. Very minimal. Very cold and distant. Bathory is root to the world of Black Metal. "The Winds of Mayhem" is yet another prime form of the earliest black metal. The first solo rips in towards the two and a half minute mark.

"Possessed" slightly reminded me of the earliest Immortal I had heard, heavy repetitive rhythms accompanied by the deadliest screams from Hell.... "I am POSSESSED!!!". The solo after this second chorus is beyond words. It lays beyond hopes of what a modern day musician could create. Sure it's possible, but it won't be Bathory. Bath "The Rite of Darkness" as well as "Reap of Evil" are by far some of the best examples of the early Bathory era. Quorthon's motivation for creating music and titling/writing song started to differ past the next album. Not just that, but they're part of the blasphemous, nun-defiling audio soundtrack of an evil ritual.

The next two tracks further develop this album in its entity, "Sadist" offering a killer early Thrash breakdown that multiple bands later renominated and further developed it themselves. The breakdown is without a doubt the most stand-out one on the album, giving reminder of the "Born for Burning" style of Quorthon riffs. The last track is again as evil as it gets, with about the most appropriate title; "Return of Darkness and Evil".

In final conclusion, I've always considered this album to be at the top of my black influences list, as well as the self/titled. For comparing influential groups in the early '80s, this is certainly up there with (if not ahead of) Possessed and Sepultura. There is no room for filler, this is a straight up black/thrash attack from 1985. Let the blood of Bathory flow!!!

© 2006

The Very Root Of Black Metal's Necro Soul - 95%

brocashelm, April 18th, 2006

The first band to outdo Venom in the all-important areas of satanic imagery and fearsome mood, Sweden’s Bathory pretty much invented the very idea of black metal in all aspects. Musically, lyrically, and in graphic appearance, Bathory said it all first, which would be a daunting enough task for an entire band to take on, much less one person. But at most stages of their legacy, Bathory was just that. Quorthon (real name Snorre Ruch) is the dude to hail (blame) for codifying the first setoff rules for what BM should look and sound like.

The band’s 1984 self-titled debut was a screechy, treble-drenched collection of songs that came across like a demo Venom might have recorded after a night of obscene alcohol abuse. Some good tunes were there, but on the whole it didn’t say a lot about Bathory’s potential. The Return, however was a different crock of bisque completely. First instead of being washed out with high-end white noise, the sound here is so dark the songs seem to crawl out of a shadow rather than simply begin. It’s all about the black here, and it doesn’t matter if the song is high-speed mayhem or slow plodding menace. The mood of impenetrable darkness is absolute. Even better, the album actually features something of a running storyline, inconsistently spinning a yarn about Satan reclaiming the earth from the grasp of God. Song wise, we’re in good shape too. A few thrashing blasters appear, the best of which being “Total Destruction”, “Bestial Lust (Bitch)”, and my personal fave, “Sadist”. But Quorthon really straps on the goat horns for “Born for Burning”, a slow, deliberate track parading the Bathory evil vibe in spades, and a real highlight of the band’s catalog.

The bottom line is without the shadow of Quorthon casting itself across metal, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Emperor, and hundreds of other corpse painted denizens of our planet just wouldn’t have known what to do with their spare time. Bathory is an icon and The Return is their blackest hour.

Black Metal? Why yes it is! - 84%

BurntOffering, April 12th, 2006

For all the people that say black metal is new and like Dimmu Borgir or whatever. They don't know shit. This is pure Black Metal. Evil, entergetic, and necro as fuck. This has riffs down the throat provided by the one and only Quorthon. The production on this is......well, there is practically no production values. It just adds to the raw intensity and heaviness of this album and is pretty revolutionary for 1985.

We have "Revalation of Doom" which is a long 3 minute intro full of random noises and screams. You can feel the imment doom aproaching. "Total Destruction" has riffs, and a lot of them. Quorthon has some insane vocals. No one else sounded this evil at the time. That opening riff is just beyond heavy. Great way to open the album. "Born for Burning" is a midpaced Black/Thrash song with more killer riffs and vocals. "The Wind of Mayhem" is more of the same. Quorthon has an intresting way he plays his leads, which is straight out of the Tom G. Warrior sense of playing guitar. "Bestial Lust" sounds kind of like a Venom song, but this is more evil sounding than Venom ever thought they could be. "Possessed" is a song that dosen't really stand out and is a bit average, but even the average on this album is still pretty damn good. "Reap of Evil" is some more raw, dirty Black/Speed Metal. Yes, some of this album does sound similiar, but when it's this good, who cares? "Son of the Damned" is fast as hell with awesome little break half way through and before you know it, it's over. Oh yes, Quorthon is a lyrical genius, something that needs to be pointed out. "Sadist" starts out similiar to a few of the past songs, but half way through we get......THRASH BREAK!!! and it commands headbanging. Best riff on the album right there. "The Return of Darkness and Evil" is probably the crown jewel of the album. The riffage is a lot more memorable and that chorus is infectious. "The return of my master Satannnnnn!!!" Yeah, this is evil done right. The outro is kind of pointless, and I believe it is now at the end of every Bathory album. At least the CD versions.

Well, this is some awesome early, raw, speedy Black Metal. This is the 2nd in a series of 4 albums that Bathory did that were worth checking out. The influence is unquestionable. If you like the Nordic stuff they did later on, you'll probably hate this. For everyone else that likes Venom or Celtic Frost, this is right up your alley. RECOMMENDED.

The continuation - 80%

UltraBoris, September 8th, 2003

This is so similar to the first Bathory LP, but better in a qualitative way I can't really put into words. Where the first was just fast for fast's sake Venom worship with a lot of pre-Venom punk to it, this one manages to succeed in being dark and unholy. It's pretty much Bathory, Version 2.0, and man the upgrade helps a lot!!! The production isn't as clear as the first album, but it works better, actually. It's not a punk-up speed job, but rather an atmospheric black metal work.

The songs are all pretty similar - raw speed metal in a way Motorhead never quite imagined. Dark imagery like Venom never dared. This is black fucking metal indeed. The silly intro reflects the first Bathory, and is pretty much disposable - it's at Total Destruction that things get going. Man, what an opening riff. Black metal is very necro and inverted-pentagram, but it's also supposed to be a headbanging mindfuck, and it is. You like Venom?

That wasn't a question - that was more a confirmation. You like breathing oxygen? Then you like Bathory "The Return". Born for Burning is more bangage, a bit more groove, but still just as necro. There's no real surprises to be found among the rest of the tracks, unless you count the squealy guitar solo of Possessed. Iron Maiden, this is not. But nor is it really Kerry King. Or how about that thrash break in Reap of Evil. Fast as fuck, and bangest thy head as if up from the dead. Oh yes - the highlight of the album. Or maybe Sadist, with its long extended thrash section. Ahh, too many highlights.

Outro. Silly. Production values. Nonexistent. Is it worth the plastic it's pressed into? FUCK YES.