OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL
The Occulta / Okkulta session
now - end of 1984 and early 1985 - Quorthon would conduct fanzine interviews
at the rate of ten per month. And through these fanzines BATHORY became
aware of the array of other bands in Europe and elsewhere, all doing
virtually the same thing as BATHORY apparently. They learned the names
of the other bands in the underground scene, but was not yet familiar
with the sound and style of each and every one of these acts.
I know it might be hard for people to believe, particularly those
who might have been around in the early 80's, but at the time we
weren't aware of the other underground acts at all, or the underground
scene. Just take into consideration the fact that when we formed
BATHORY, the only metal that I actualy knew and would listen to
was Motörhead, early Black Sabbath and an occasional Saxon
album. Other than that I would listen to the Hardrock that I had
grown up listening to like early KISS, Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
And had we known anything about the scene out there and
its culture, there would probably have been tons of BATHORY cassettes
circulating just as there were tons of tapes of other bands in circulation.
But despite the array of bootleg BATHORY "demo's" out
there on ebay and elsewhere today, we never ever made as
much as a single tape for tape trading, demo or what have you. None
of those so called BATHORY demo's out there today are genuine.
Preaching in Hell...it was this sort of biblical illustrations and woodcuts
that was first thought of as a great cover for not only THE RETURN OF
THE DARKNESS AND EVIL
album but for the aborted NECRONOMCON / MALEFICARUM EP as well.
I had just heard a Venom album at the Tyfon office shortly after
the release of our debut. And through the fanzines we now got to
learn a bit more about such acts as Hellhammer, Possessed, Kreator,
Destruction (no Frank, sorry, I was never a fan) and Sodom.
I also remember some other bands or at least hearing some tracks
by bands like Demon Eyes, Raven, Blaspheme and Vulcain (which, by
the way, I though good enough to actually listen to over and over
again for half a year or so) plus Canadian band Exciter, which -
if I remember correctl - meant a lot in terms of the sound we tried
to achieve when recording THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND
I got to hear a complete Slayer album around this time as well,
but can not remember what I thought of it other than I seem to recall
being annoyed by the high pitch vocals and dual guitar solos. I
believe a bassplaying friend of mine brought the Metallica debut
along as well in December, but I was impressed only by the pure
Marshall sound they had achieved.
I also remember around this time I heard the Anthrax debut album,
thinking to myself "-Intense musicians". But
though great at playing, I felt they lacked something. There was
a vast difference in feel between American and European bands in
those days, not more or less good or anything like that,
just different. That difference is still very noticeable to this
day I think.
But realy, you were so much into your own thing at the time, you
had very narrow horizons. For instance I couldn't stand Celtic Frost
and Kreator at all and thought I hated them immensely. And the fanzines
took great pleasure in passing that infromation on and on idefenately.
I even remember once or twice pouring crap on Voi Vod even though
I had actually never heard even one complete Voi Vod track. In 1999
or 2000 some time, somebody in Ontario anonymously sent me a bunch
of recent Voi Vod CD's. So I had a listen to all of them and had
to confess to myself how fucking great and truly original that was.
So that was a revelation seventeen years too late.
Getting to know about all these other bands at that time had at
least one noticeable effect on our second album that I can see clearly
today. To realize all of a sudden that there were at least a dozen
other bands out there in very much the same vein as BATHORY, had
the effect we began to think in new lanes about the next album.
Compared to how we had approached our first album in a very innocent
fashion, our second album would be written and recorded with a plan.
With all these other acts poping up at the same time, we all of
a sudden realized that we had to profile ourselves. We couldn't
just go in there and blast off like we had that summer while recording
So after hearing a couple of tracks by most of those other bands
at a local record store, I decided we ought to try to go in a direction
none of these other acts seemed to go. That's how a lot of the material
that I wrote for our second album became not as much over-the-top
fast or noisy, as had been the case with a lot of stuff recorded
for the first album. Rather than speed for the sake of speed and
brittle noise, we would now go for more heavyness and a darker atmosphere.
To me, our first album had been all and all out Death Oi-punk, but
with dark lyrics. This time we wanted more than just picking up
from the Motörhead and GBH backyard. I think we succeeded in
our effort to show some evolution from the debut six months earlier.
THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL would proove
to have a very different atmosphere and beat than for instance the
stuff that Kreator, Destruction or Possessed produced at the same
it was really a session intended to create a EP for Christmas, I
believe our NECRONOMICON / MALEFICARUM project
acted as a first attempt to figure out if this desicion to go heavier
and darker was a good desicion or not.
- It's a great and important step to make going from your first
album to your second album. You spend your entire life rehersing
and preparing for your debut. Any first album is just like saying
this is us and this is where we come from, but a follow-up release
is always the first step made in any direction from there. So with
the second album we knew we wanted to do something very different
from the debut, in order to show some sort of evolution. And to
offer a very different feel and atmopshere from what all the other
acts previously mentioned had to offer.
the days of computers and image software, composite images were
produced by method of scissors & glue to make exciting pictures for the fanzines.
This is an early example of this type of photomontage produced in the
spring of 1985.
The original shot derives from the second photosession in February 1984.
in mid February 1985 - probably on the 10th - Quorthon entered the Elektra
Studio in Stockholm together with part-time drummer Stefan Larsson and
newly recruited short-time bassplayer Andreas "Adde" Johansson,
to record the second album. Rickard Bergman reclined to participate
already at an early stage. Johan Elvén was still serving in the
Royal Swedish Navy and was therefore not available for this session.
title for this second album was REVELATION OF DOOM.
But as things turned out, for purely estetic reasons the title "The
Return of the Darkness and Evil" - already familiar through the
release of SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK - was then thought
of as a much better title. And this not just for that reason, this title
was deemed a much more suitable title for a follow-up album.
Also, we had completely forgotten all about "The Return of
the Darkness and Evil" when recording the first album, and
so wanted to record that again for the follow-up. Hence that title
was perfect for the album as well. And when we decided to record
an intro to open the new album - just like "Storm of Damnation"
had opened the first album - I thought of it as poetic justice to
name the intro "Revelation of Doom". It wasn't the last
time a working title for an album would be discarted only to be
adopted by the intro.
photographed by Stefan while recording the hysterical
shouting for the intro "Storm of Damnation" in February 1985.
Elektra Studio was chosen simply because the band had been there before,
while recording "Sacrifice" and "The Return of the Darkness
and Evil" for the SCANDINAVIAN METAL ATTACK compilation
album thirteen months previously. This time the band would have modern
24-track equipment to work with and an array of effects, compared to
the very primitive conditions and 8-track equipment that Heavenshore
had to offer.
Sadly, I remember virtually nothing from this session. I was actually
drunk most of the time. It didn't take much Vodka to get us three
18 and 19 years old shit kids drunk enough to mainly sway and giggle
through the entire session.
I do remember the atmosphere and the environment of the place, though.
Red leather couches and professional soundproof padding all over
the place. There was a grand piano and a Hammond organ in the corner
of that huge recording room. The floor was all expensive wood of
some sort and some band had apparently driven some screwdrivers
through it the week before. And looking the way we did, I could
sense we had some pretty suspicious eyes upon us throughout the
photographed by Stefan while swinging his Ibanez Destroyer for a snap
in the Elektra studio
during the recording of the THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL album
in February 1985.
expensive floor would not only survive the recording of THE
RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL, it would even be caught on
tape as Quorthon - before blasting off with "Possessed" -
counted the rest of the band in by vigorously slamming the heels of
his black leather cowboy boots against that exspensive wood.
though the floor would survive, the line-up would not. Halfway through
the recording, bassplayer Andreas would be sacked with Quorthon resuming
the role of bass player for the remainder of the session.
I caught him chewing speed one evening, and although alcohol was
all fine with me - hell, I even smoked back in those days - I couldn't
stand drugs. It could also have been any of those pills I later
learned he would take for his anguish and anxiety. I knew he had
been going in and out of a mental ward for youngsters for a year
or two. He was a troubled soul but a good bass player. He would
connect two effect pedals - I seem to recall it was a Rotosound
pedal and a first generation tubescreamer of some brand - creating
this unique bass sound that I had never heard before. It was like
a creature from hell growling. But he was weird and a had those
really scary eyes, oozing bad vibes most of the time.
Today it all sounds like utter stupidity, though. I mean, bass players
for an act like BATHORY weren't exactly growing on trees in those
days. But I basically told him to either leave for the day and come
back straight, or quite simply fuck off. He had a choice. But he
didn't come back. So I guess he made a choice.
based on the same dark and evil theme that had made up the first album,
the vast majority of the material on THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS
AND EVIL evidentally had a more refined gloomy feel to it.
The sound this time around was very much different and the atmosphere
much more an intergral part of the dark theme. It is apperant that more
than just the average neo-Satanic litterature, horror movie or a selection
of those medieval wood cuts made up the inspirational base.
I must have made some sort of a mental journey through the human
imagination, religion and all our collective image of the darkness
and evil as such. Those medieval wood cuts and the books on satanism
read did a lot for the atmosphere of that second album. But I would
also wander across graveyards and visit churches for inspiration
while writing for THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL.
The serial killer theme to be found on THE RETURN OF THE
DARKNESS AND EVIL, i.e. "Possessed", "Reap
of Evil" and "Son of the Damned", was partly a result
of endless nights of watching all those realy cheap Hollywood chainsaw
and masked menace kind of movies on video, and partly finding so
many referrences in litterature made to statistic links between
modern satanists and serial killers.
And while studying the atrocities of Christianity throughout the
centuries, I stumbled upon the inquisition, which resulted in another
track on THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL: "Born
for Burning", dedicated to the memory of a Dutch woman - Marrigje
Ariens - burned at the stake as a witch in Schoonhoven in 1591.
in a private shot, seated at the very spot in Schoonhoven
where in 1591 alledgly a woman named Marrigje
Ariens was burned at the stake as a witch.
there were themes other than the Satanic, inquisition or serial killer
themes to be found on THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL
too. "Total Destruction" for instance, is a first attempt
to write about the prospects and horrors of nuclear war. But possibly
the only self-lived track on any BATHORY album was "Bestial Lust",
with the added post-fix (Bitch) for fun.
That is a true story actually. There was this one rock club we'd
visit occasionaly. And every once in a while I would end up with
some biscuit in the ladies room for a game of backgammon. When I
realized how night after night - before walking off to
the ladies room with my playmate for the moment - I would be asked
by the lady in question if I was in a band, and how much faster
I would be dragged into that ladies room if I told her I was,
all the more appearant it became to me that I would get to play
a hell of a lot more backgammon if I made it plain right from the
outset that I was in a band.
So the honor the inumerable hot chicks that got a taste of creme
de la Quorthon, we decided to feature a track on this second
album dedicated to their services. Having already decided to call
our fans the BATHORY Hordes, it was only natural to dub these ladies
the BATHORY Whores...
photographed by stefan at the Elektra studio towards the end of
recording THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL album in February 1985.
sound on THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL is notably
different from the sound of the first album. The size of the Elektra
studio, and the much more professional equipment, was significancant
in making the follow-up sound so very different from its predessecor.
That plus the very vivid demand of Quorthon for the album to sound like
it had been "...recorded in hell itself...". The
10 tracks on THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL -
not counting the intro and the outro - were all drenched soaking wet
in a dark and evil atmosphere. But the albums full title would not be
printed on the cover.
We wanted people to just read out "The return..." - as
in a second album or a follow-up - and then flip the album over
to look for a tracking list. Not finding one, what they got was
this apocalyptic poem with the song titles woven into it. Only after
listening through the album to the end would you get the full title
of the album; THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL.
- Actually we even though of opening the album with a voice reading
this poem out during the "Revelation of Doom" noise. But
we never achieved a voice cool enough for the poem, no matter how
many strange effects we added to the voice. And since we had allready
decided on opening the album with "Total Destruction",
we felt the poem out of place since it sounded like an introduction
to the track "The Return of The Darkness and Evil". And
it really should have been read out just before "The Return
of The Darkness and Evil", but by then the whole album would
have been played through and it seemed a little late presenting
the album with a poem at the end of the record. So we dropped the
poem that would act as a tracking list. Once again using liberal amounts
rubb-on Old English font letters the band wanted no traditional tracking
list but a poem
to give the album cover artwork a sort of a biblical or medival touch.
the album cover, the band had originally thought of using any one of
the medieval wood cuts originally intended as a cover for the aborted
NECRONOMICON / MALEFICARUM EP. But
feeling this was a step back, the band searched for something new. They
had allready agred on something simple yet symbolically powerful.
depicting bleak nature sceneries or any sort of a nocturnal atmosphere
were favoured. Oddly enough, all the initial ideas for the THE
RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL cover looked more like Scandinavian
Black metal album covers would look like in the late 90's. Finding no
motive suitable enough to fit this idea of a simple yet effective shot,
the band began to feel frustration as time was running out. Chanses
were they would have to resort to using any of the old and tried woodcuts
one day shortly before deadline, when assistant-engineer Gunnar Silins
- overhearing the request for nocturnal motives - brought a bunch of
shots he had taken the previous summer of a shower of meteorites falling
through the Swedish summer night sky. Meteorites were regarded as bad
omen in medieval times, hence the photos were deemed interesting enough
to at least be scrutinized by the band. But it would not be a shot of
the shower of meteorites that the band dubbed as most interesting, but
one sporting a full moon. It would be this shot that the band decided
on for the cover of the new album. Simple, yet symbolically powerful
artwork for the back of THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL
cover, depicting the poem and the heaps of blood pouring down a cliff wall.
Luckily the band had learned the lesson with the canary-yellow goat
and made damn sure to get the color gold this time around.
the back of the cover, a few liters of blood - pig or chicken...nobody
can remember which any more - would be poured down an almost vertical
cliff wall in the middle of the night and photographed. For the innersleeve
- well, this was half a decade before CD-booklets - the old
and tried medieval woodcut intended for the NECRONOMICON / MALEFICARUM
EP cover would finally come to good use. The motive - the classic anal-kiss
illustration - suited the Satanic mood of the album perfectly.
motive first thought of as a great cover for the aborted NECRONOMICON/MALEFICARUM
the highly suitable "Anal kiss" woodcut would at last make
it onto a BATHORY album.
It was enclosed on the innersleeve of THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND
EVIL 1985 LP.
And it was of course included in the artwork for the CD's produced in
And naturally for the 20th anniversary vinyl and CD's produced in 2003
this second album - having learned the lesson - the band made damn sure
to get the color gold and not no canary-bird yellow dye for the apocalyptic
verse, album title and band logo.
THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL was released in
May 1985, it would instantly be hailed and embraced by the plethora
of fanzines in both Europe and the United States. Though plenty of fanzine
interviews had been made since the release of the debut, the band was
caught a bit off guard by the sudden rush of attention. And adoration.
death. Real Death Metal. Well produced that will be really big news.
BATHORY should climb into the Slayer league with this one.
Not for wimps. It's hard to express how heavy this is!"
Dave Constable/Metal Forces 1985
That all came as a complete surprise to us. I remember how during
the finishing stage of recording THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS
AND EVIL somebody from Tyfon came into the studio telling
us how we'd better get those last overdubbs done and done good,
because the album had just reached a pre-sales figure of 10.000
copies, which was an unheard of figure in those days for a band
like BATHORY. And of course we just couldn't grasp how the hell
stores and distribution partners could order an album that had not
yet been completed, let alone listened to. Eventually as the sales
figures passed 25.000, it was full scale BATHORYmania.
And later when the album was finally released - actually in a hurry
due to the frantic demand - we were drenched in letters from fanzines
over here and overseas, all asking for interviews and what have
you. And they all seemed to know BATHORY just as well as any other
band. We were both surprised, flattered and excited.
We then felt for the first time that we were really on to something
here. We felt we had a sound and a style of our own, different from
most other similair bands out there. And we began to think this
might eventually just as well result in a handful of BATHORY records
down the road and who knows what more. It was a truly strange feeling.
- Just one year before I had problems convinsing Rickard to help
me out with the debut, and I had struggled to find a drummer in
time before entering Heavenshore. Now we had a second album out
and were looking at amazing sales figures, plus a pile of fan letters
every Monday morning. We faced glorious reviews in fanzines all
over the world it seemed, and youngsters as far away as Japan and
South America woulod send us pictures of themselves dressed up in
homemade BATHORY shirts. What a change of scene...
very early review - this one for THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL
BATHORY as "...the wildest
ever...". THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS
was the start of BATHORYmania. 666 points out of 10 says it all. Even
when served in Norwegian.
the follow-up second album is not talked about as often these days as
the classic troika made up by the UNDER THE SIGN OF THE BLACK
MARK, BLOOD FIRE DEATH and HAMMERHEART
albums, THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL
is nevertheless the album that started BATHORYmania and may have laid
the base for today's notion of BATHORY as the fathers of Black Metal.
It is firmly placed right in the middle of the list of best selling
BATHORY albums and re-manufactured at almost the same rate as the imfamous
legacy of THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL would
prove itself in other areas as well. It's minimalistic cover would set
a standard for nocturnal and bleak nature motives on Black Metal album
covers a decade later. And it's raw and dark atmosphere is frequently
referred to as one of the main sources of inspiration and influence
by second and third generation Black Metal bands.
THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL album was being
shipped out to shops around the world, for the now two-piece BATHORY
line-up there were still some ideas worth trying out untill a third
album could be recorded...
June the 1st 1985, Quorthon was back at Heavenshore with drummer Stefan
for initially a weekend of work. The intention was to try out some ideas.
With no bass player tied to the band at the time, Quorthon would again
resume the role of bass player. He had already played bass on half of
the material on THE RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL,
but did not own a bass. Hence a bass had to be borrowed for this session.
We came back to Heavenshore with half a dozen ideas that had not
been completed in time for any of that to end up on THE
RETURN OF THE DARKNESS AND EVIL. It was a great feeling
being back at "...our place..." again. I was never too
comfortable with the Elektra studio eventhough it had all the possibilities
you could possibly imagine and 24-tracks to work with. But Heavenshore
was where we had recorded the debut album and the NECRONOMICON
/ MALEFICARUM material. To me at least, it was a bit like
a second home. We could come and go as we pleased. We knew nobody
else ever recorded there. And the importance of the fact that it
would cost us virtually nothing to work there is a fact one should
never underestimate. One day at Elektra would cost us the same amount
of money we'd pay to get access to Heavenshore for a month.
It was only two of us there this time. We had to record the guitar
and drums first. I would then ad the bass a moment later. I had
borrowed this bass from a friend of mine playing in a jazz band,
and I looked kind of goofy playing it. I don't know what sort of
bass it was but it sure as hell didn't look like Black Metal to
session - if all went well - would hopefully result in a bunch of material
caught on tape good enough to act as the base for a third album planned
for release in the fall. The working title for this album was either
OCCULTA or OKKULTA, the latter a game
with words since okkult is the Swedish word for occult.
OKKULTA looked better in print. But I recall we
were actually wondering if anybody would be able to pronounce that,
even though the metal bible at the time - Kerrang! - would
frequently spell virtually everything with a "k".
English was the sole language of rock and metal in those
days. It wouldn't be until the mid or late 90's that bands began
to write and sing in their native language, although the French
have been doing that all the time haven't they?!
The sort-of Swedish spelling - OKKULTA - would
probably not have made it anyway had the session been professional
and the album released in the fall as planned. Today when looking
at the two different ways to spell the title, they both look and
sound like Finish to me...
this - and a second weekend - six tracks were recorded directly onto
one 2-inch tape. And immediately after the completion of the session
transferred onto two 15 minutes quarter-inch tapes. The titles recorded
during the OCCULTA/OKKULTA session were "Black
Leather Wings", "Hellfire", "Majestica Satanica",
"Circle of Blood", "Wicca", "The Call from
the Grave" (an early version of "Call from the Grave")
and "Undead". Sadly, only the reel containing the tracks "Black
Leather Wings", "Circle of Blood", "Majestica Satanica"
and "Undead" has survived to this day.
in one of only two shots that has
survived from the January 1984 photosession.
1985 drew to a close, BATHORY could recline and think of it as a very
good year for BATHORY. And for extreme metal, whether it was now labelled
as Black, Death, Thrash, Speed or Bay-Area or whatever. The scene was
very exciting. The plethora of fanzines enormous. The contact between
bands and fans through fan mail had developed into a well established
form of personal communication.
up for BATHORY was - apart from finding a suitable bass player - a new
year and a third album. And to gather the BATHORY Hordes under a sign.
The sign of the black mark...