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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