Among the first Dutch black metal bands in the early nineties, Countess have always set themselves apart from other bands by a fierce loyalty to their old school influences. For two and a half decades, while fashions came and went, Countess stayed true to their vision and thus earned a worldwide cult status in the metal underground.

In spite of their sworn allegiance to metal orthodoxy, Countess have never shied from innovation. In 1994 they created the first black metal song with Dutch lyrics (Bloed In De Sneeuw) and in 1997 were among the first bands to take a rocking approach to the genre (Hell's Rock & Roll).

Over the course of 25 years and 15 full-length albums, Countess' sound has evolved from the raw black metal of the early releases towards a more traditional heavy metal-influenced style. The band's most recent offering, Fires Of Destiny in 2016, being a powerful example of a seamless integration of heavy and black metal elements.

In 2014 the band returned to the stage after a long period of not having played live. Since then, Countess have performed impressive shows at numerous prestigious metal festivals in their own country, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Finland.

The core of Countess consists of long-time members Orlok (vocals, bass) and Zagan (guitars) who both have been involved with the project since the nineties. They were recently joined by Mortüüm (drums, 2015) and Häxa (keyboards, 2016) to complete what is probably the band's strongest formation to date.

September 14, 2016

'The Return Of The Horned One' released on vinyl

Almost twenty-two years after its original release on CD by Nazgul's Eyrie Productions, our sophomore album 'The Return Of The Horned One' has now been released on vinyl in a joint effort by New Era Productions and Heidens Hart. In commemoration of this occasion, Orlok wrote down some memories from the creation of this legendary record.

"In the summer of 1994, the line-up that had been in place for a while and recorded the demo 'The Wolves Awake' more or less ceased to exist. We never split up officially, but just kind of stopped rehearsing. I had still been writing new material throughout the year, though, so in September I decided to record a new album anyway.

The vinyl version of the album

The recording of this album took place at SPOD in Delft, a place where most of my projects and bands have rehearsed at one time or another and where a lot of stuff I did in the early years was recorded. The main reason for this was that at the time they had an excellent Fostex 280 4-tracker available for rent in combination with a fine Alesis effects processor. Back then this was a good alternative for an actual studio, something we couldn't afford.
The recording more or less started at home by programming all the drum parts in my Yamaha RY10 rhythm machine, which were subsequently recorded through a heavy old Peavy bass amp. Next I began putting down all the bass parts, playing my Aria Pro II, played through the same amp.

Since several songs I had picked for inclusion on the album had been played by our last line-up, I asked both guitarists to participate in the recordings. So the next day Othalaz showed up, bringing along his rare Fender Prodigy guitar as well as his ancient Boss DS-1 distortion, and while I was finishing the bass parts he went to get some hamburgers from a nearby junk food joint. After lunch we put down the first rhythm guitar parts, Othalaz playing the older songs like 'Aleidis' while I did the newer ones like 'Ritual Of The 7 Priests'. We played the guitar through the Peavy bass amp in an attempt to get a heavier sound, but looking back this did not work out too well.

The full album on YouTube

Next I mixed the bass and first rhythm guitar to the fourth track together and we recorded the second rhythm guitar on the second track, then mixed it to the third track together with the drums from track one so we had tracks one and two left for vocals, keyboards and.
When the basic tracks were laid down we took a break and a few days later Imogem showed up to play the lead guitar parts on 'Into Battle' and 'Deisidaimonia'. He brought his Yamaha guitar and Boss effects processor along but I don't remember what amp he played through. When he was done, however, I recorded some guitar leads myself and after that I did the keyboards on a Roland D50 and then, finally, the vocals.

When everything was laid down I mixed everything, adding the earlier-recorded 'Bloed In De Sneeuw' in the process, and a month later I took a train to Regensburg, Germany to personally deliver the master tape to Opyros, who would release the album on his fledgling label Nazgul's Eyrie Productions two months later.

I know some diehard Countess fans still consider this the band's finest album and though I certainly respect their opinion I do not share it. The sound and playing on this record are really below par, even when this is perhaps made up for by the sheer rawness of the recording.
It is a very extreme and unique-sounding album; especially so because it is extreme in a way very different from the way most other bands were 'extreme' at the time. Many of the songs on this album have been played live through the years – in fact we still play quite a few live - and hearing these tunes live makes you think how much better this album could have been."

 
'Aleidis' live in 2014