Unfortunately, the entire pleasure of Bathory's career arc--"Wow, this guy is surprisingly musical, even within his limitations!"--is negated by Countess's total lack of musicality. Listen closely: it is HORRIBLE. Weirdly, I like this record better than a lot of other stuff, because it is intellectually commendable, and also has a very "punk" quality that I can get behind--but even as tone-deaf and non-knowledgeable about music as I am, something is not quite right here. Like a highly-functional illiterate, Countess is good at hiding this lack of musicality, but it comes out especially in the painfully bad guitar solos.
The best metal bands--Judas Priest, Metallica, Burzum--are shockingly musical: their imaginations paint in melodies and harmonies that are astonishing and illuminating. Countess is just BAD. There's a lot to admire here, in terms of "the problem of nowadays black metal," but once you realize that music is really not a "first language" for Countess, it just sucks. Sorry.
Score: 1 star/ 5 (*)
Best songs: these songs when they were on "The Return..." and "Under the Sign..."