It is often the custom with the sophomore album of bands to be darker than their original material, in an attempt to out-do the old and show that they are a force to be reckoned with. The forerunners of Scandinavian black metal are no exception.
After a lengthy and very haunting intro, the band explodes with their thrash speed and power in "Total Destruction
." The drumming is simple as ever, and Quorthon
's vocals are as growling in his best imitation of Lemmy Kilmister (for Bathory
was indeed influenced by Motörhead), but the riffage is killer. The major weakness of this song is the lack of a guitar solo.
But wait, black metal isn't supposed to have guitar solos. However, Bathory
never was black metal. He didn't get around with Hanoi and Vans McBurger and say "Hey, let's make music that sounds like its coming from out of a hissing tin can, as ugly as it can be, with no guitar solos, no real singing, no audible bass, no drum solos and sing all about Satan
and we'll call it black metal!" Like every other boundary pushing, revolutionary musician, they came across it by accident. Later albums get progressively better than the previous, though none of them are perfect quality wise by far. The low quality was because of circumstance, not choice.
As for the guitar solos, let us rejoice that we have love a musician who is not only a writer of dark, bad-ass and epic lyrics, and a riff-master rivaled only by Tony Iommi
and the other greats, but a shredder as well. Instances of Quorthon
's shredding skills can be heard on "Winds
", "Bestial Lust
" (my personal favorite off this album), "Possessed
", "The Rite
"...Oh fuck it, only three tracks on this album don't have guitar solos!
Where this album suffers greatly is the recording quality. It would make the tin-can albums of the 60s and 70s sound loud and explosive, to say but the very least. It was not done for atmospheric sake, or to be unappealing, but it was because Bathory
was always under-funded and couldn't afford better recording equipment (or environment: if I recall correctly, Quorthon
said that Heavenshore, where this album was recorded, was a garage with an uneven gravel floor). Oh, how the great riffs and shredding solos could come to life if bands who covered Bathory
only dared to make their covers in better quality, and not attempt to imitate the terrible quality of this album (some, like Vlad Tepes
' "Bestial Lust
", are even worse than the album version quality-wise).
The most evil album ever made. That
's what The Return
was once called. Maybe the terrible quality had something to make it seem more evil, since the black metalists of the Norwegian underground scene found it appealing enough to imitate. Lyrically, there is far less Satan
and more just plain old gore, evil and fucking. Well, that also can disturb people (not me, I smile when I hear "Bestial Lust
" despite the hideous connotations that doing so imply), so some would indeed call it the most evil because not only is it dark and Satanic
, but also blunt and gory. And Quorthon
uses "fuck" several times in this album, and several other choice words the "trve kvlt" scene have been too afraid to use in their lyrics.
In the end, though this may not have been as much of an influence on the black metal scene as Under the Sign of the Black Mark
had been, it is still brutal and dark as ever. Kvlties will love the dark atmosphere and satanic lyrics, while thrash-fans will be drawn to its fast-pace, killer riffs and guitar solos. It gets 15 of 20 for terrible quality. It may not be my favorite Bathory
album, but it kicks ass nonetheless.