"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.
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."
'The Return Of The Horned One' is still available both digitally and physically from our Bandcamp store. It's also available on all major platforms such as Apple Music and Spotify: