Review

BATHORY The Return......

Album · 1985 · Black Metal
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4.5/5 ·
voila_la_scorie
Ah, Bathory! The Return.... Is that a double epsilon? I remember that day, that exciting day of going downtown with my paper route tip money and heading straight to the metal section of the music store, searching for something new to discover. And there amidst all the album covers of skulls, musclebound barbarians, acts of violence and blood, and Siamese twins tearing apart, was a simple cover of a gibbous moon shining through a gap in the clouds, a scene I had easily observed many times in my life. What kind of album would this be? I snatched it up!

Ah, Bathory! Some 32 years later and I finally decided to delve into black metal and see what there might be to captivate my constant craving for more diversity in my music collection. I brought home Immortal and thought, “The vocals really sound a lot like Quorthon of Bathory.” I brought home Darkthrone and Enslaved and thought the same. I checked out Emperor, Marduk, Gorgoroth, Satyricon, and more and each time I was reminded of Bathory. It soon dawned on me that if there was one band that inspired the sound of the second wave of black metal, it had to be Bathory.

You’ll find out very quickly that this is true when you watch any documentaries on YouTube or read anything about the development of the black metal scene. Bathory’s debut album and especially “Under the Sign of the Black Mark”, the third album, are frequently cited as the most highly influential albums in the developing black metal scene. The dark, distorted guitars and sinister riffs, the low production quality, and the back-of-the-throat, angry-burning-witch vocal style set the parameters of the black metal to come. For a riff-lover like me, “Born for Burning” had the most dread-inspiring and powerful guitar riff to make it to my cassette collection yet back in 1985, and songs like “Total Destruction”, “Sadist”, and “The Rite of Darkness / Reap of Evil” affirmed my love for this album.

On the plus side, I found the tracks I had forgotten, like “The Wind of Mayhem” and “Son of the Dammed” were at least worth hearing again, while the intro, “Revelation of Doom”, which once conjured up images of a demon in destructive rage approaching from afar, now sounds more like a giant baby crying for its formula bottle. Or is that a mammoth, Satanic tit?

Listening to this album now after at least three decades, I am reminded how the drumming mostly just keeps the beat and how there are few fills, though when one does come in, it sure feels effective. I also recall reading one single review of the album ever and the author saying that the band had an agile bassist. However, I am not hearing that bass so well. But perhaps it doesn’t matter. The real stars of the show are Quorthon’s original vocals, the heavy assault guitars, and the fuzzy production. This album impressed me much more than the debut and “Under the Sign of the Black Mark” actually turned me off the band. No one ever seems to talk about “The Return......” but for me this was/is an essential album in the tale of black metal and extreme metal in the eighties. Quorthon may have died far too young but his legacy can be heard in so many bands of the 1990’s. That’s gotta count for something!
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aglasshouse wrote:
11 days ago
I just noticed Peter that you mention a "double epsilon" at the start , but if you're referring to the two sets of three dots after the album title I think you meant to say ellipsis. Unless you're referencing something I'm not picking up on, which in that case count me the fool :p.
siLLy puPPy wrote:
18 days ago
Not sure i have a favorite but this one is no worse than the other early albums for sure
18 days ago
Yeah, really. I’ve heard the first four albums and this is my favourite easily.
Unitron wrote:
18 days ago
Great to see some love for this album! This is probably my favorite Bathory album. I've never understood why it's so forgotten.

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