Legendary BATHORY gave the real birth to Black Metal as we know it. I know VENOM and CELTIC FROST released albums before this that are also Black Metal, but that is more imagery. Musically, BATHORY was and still is close to the sound of Black Metal as we know it now, established by the legends from Scandinavia and particularly Norway. Even BATHORY's self-titled debut is more Black Metal in imagery than in musical terms. "The Return" simply is the real foundation!
The songs here are simple, brutal and evil. Main force behind the songs are the nihilistic riffs from master Quorthon, they sound dark as hell and still have a slight Thrashy Rock'n'Roll feeling to it sometimes. Besides the mighty riffs, there is the simple loud drumming and Quorthon's tortured scream, still one of the most evil voices ever! And if the song gets repetitive after a while, expect a guitar solo that'll pierce your bones. Contrary to the low-pitched guitar riffs, these solos actually sound very high pitched and clear. Don't expect any technical stuff though, they can be false as hell which is of course important for the evil atmosphere. Even though the album contains eleven songs, the playing time is barely longer then half an hour, so don't think you'll be hearing epics of any kind.
There aren't really tracks that stand out, only the intro is a bit crappy, but every other song is a brilliant example of evil, dark, fast and heavy Black Metal that the world surely didn't expect in 1985! Even some twenty years later, this album doesn't sound dated except for its minimalistic garage sound. One of the ultimate classics of the genre, every Black Metal fan should own this! And besides being so important to Black Metal; in 1988 Quorthon single-handedly created the superb style of Viking Metal, of which he is the undisputed master. May he rest in peace. (Online March 4, 2005)