The Return… is their second studio record, erupting after the self-titled release in 1984. Returning champion of sound Quorthon (Thomas Börje Forsberg) orchestrates the guitars, bass, and vocals. Alongside returns Stefan Larsson on the percussion. Rickard Bergman from the first record is replaced on the bass by Andreas Johansson.
To follow with Quorthon on the strings and vocals, they also have a hand in the mixing and recording of The Return…, ultimately crafting a well-versed dungeon of sound.
After a lengthy introduction of atmospheric hammers being struck, “Revelation Of Doom” fades almost directly into “Total Destruction.” The switch in tracks is not the cleanest transition and based on that hellish silence between pieces, the lack of sound becomes tension-filled.
When Bathory finally explodes into a wall of harsh and rampaging instrumentation. Vocals that pour over like molten ash onto the listener describe, “12 days of total eclipse, yet the stillness rules this night of mist. But slowly clouds of death are forming, the time has come to reap.”
Instrumentally appealing for their fast and almost unrelenting performances, Bathory continues to deliberately attack and send the listener through stages of immense difficulty. A second verse follows like symptoms of a plague, describing, “The end of mankind universe, so many battles yet to fight. Take heed forever learn, when the bells chime The Return…”
Foreboding in each track that passes, “The Winds Of Mayhem” appear violently and more rapid than anything Bathory produces before. The percussion here from Larsson becomes this beautiful symphony of organized chaos. Being one of the impending notions of doom from The Return…, Larsson is diligent enough to crush and pulverize until nothing but fragments of skull remain.
Two quick, but soulful solos appear from Quorthon between each verse; creating diversity within the often frantic and rushed sounds. Bathory survives on being impossible to catch and forcing a hand of sadistic undertones in each track.
One final track, “Son Of Damned” takes the audience and kicks them directly to a bottomless pit. The walls enclose here, making Bathory appear as if everything is in their control. While the listener can see this window of light ceasing to exist, Bathory continues the onslaught nearly effortlessly.
On the wings of plagues and underneath the grasp of death, Bathory nestles themselves in history for The Return…. It constricts the ears and leaves nothing to imagine in a wake of shattered stone and broken marble.