There's one big flaw that drags this otherwise very good album down, and that is of course the drum sound. I've never heard such fake sounding drums on an album, Metal or otherwise. Yes, it is an electronic kit, and that becomes way too obvious on the fills especially.
Now that we've got that out of the way, how about the songs themselves then? They're really good actually. This is some of the most atmospheric, doomy Death Metal I've heard, and the guitar sound is HEAVY to boot (how much distortion is there?). Most of this is indeed very slow, they hit higher tempos occasionally but not for very long.
If you can look past the admittedly terrible sounding drums, this is actually a very good album. It has that aura of total darkness that discerns the best Death/Black Metal from the sea of mediocrity surrounding it.
Oh, and one last thing before I completely forget it, why the hell is one of the songs called Chicken Dance?
Genres: Doom Metal
This album really started it all. Whereas the debut was still somewhat more rooted in a sloppy Punk/Motörhead style (one thing it already had right were the blasphemous Satanic lyrics/image), this one has all the evil atmosphere and violent chaos we've come to expect from the Nordic/Scandinavian hordes since. Except for the slower, more atmospheric (but still just as evil) Born for Burning, the album at first sounds just like a big chaotic mess, and it certainly is if you don't pay attention to what's going on. Once you start to make sense of the chaos, however, you'll notice there are some AMAZING riffs on here. Now remember, what has Metal always been about? The riffs, right? Now you should start to notice why this album is seen as such a classic and a milestone. It had all the elements just right for later bands to follow in it's footsteps. Without Bathory and this album right here we wouldn't have Mayhem, we wouldn't have Darkthrone, or any of those other 2nd wave bands. The importance of this one can't really be overstated. It's a true masterpiece in every sense of the word.
Genres: Black Metal
This album is the beginning of Bathory's "mid" era, where Quorthon suddenly decided he wanted to make the band a raw Thrash outfit after a couple of epic Viking Metal albums. This has been one of the band's few generally less well-received efforts, though it has finally started to get some recognition in more recent years. Indeed, as an extreme Thrash album this one is certainly not bad. The songs are aggressive, right down to Quorthon's vocals, and very fast for the most part. There's a couple more midtempo numbers too that are regardless just as heavy. The quite lo-fi production also helps in making the album sound very raw. Of course, Bathory never had any crystal clear production on their albums, and that's only a good thing. I can say without a doubt this is one of the most violent Thrash albums I've heard, just like I always wanted the genre to be. It certainly isn't Bathory's finest moment (those would be the albums from The Return... up to Hammerheart), but it's still a fine album on it's own. If you haven't heard it, I'd say at least give this one a chance.
Genres: Thrash Metal
There are a couple reasons people hate this, but they are equally pointless. First, yes, the production is a bit muddy, but it's really not bad. Come on people, have you only ever listened to crystal clear modern production jobs? The second reason, and this is the one I especially don't get, is the presence of Ice-T (and Ernie C). Yeah there's a "rap" part in the first track that lasts for a whopping 20 seconds or so. Really it sounds like any other spoken word part on a metal song, but since it has Ice-T's name attached to it, it gets metalheads raging about them "selling out" (at this point in their career no less) and "making a rap (metal) album", which couldn't be further from the truth.
In reality, this sounds pretty much like classic Sabbath, dark, heavy and for the most part slow and doomy. In fact I think of all the Martin-era albums (which I love btw) this is musically the closest to the classic sound of those first 6 albums. They really brought the darkness back here, maybe stronger than ever (Headless Cross is the one possible exception, in a very different way of course). I really think every Sabbath fan should give this one a chance without considering all the critique it's gotten for some reason. I believe you'd find at least half the album to be very good songs in their own right.
Top tracks: Can't Get Close Enough, Shaking Off the Chains, Rusty Angels, Forbidden, Kiss of Death (that really is half the album already)
Forgettable: well I guess Get a Grip is a bit of filler
Genres: Heavy Metal