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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.