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A Sorcery Written in Blood (1993)

Gorgoroth's first demo, A Sorcery Written in Blood, is an absolutely savage and primitive piece of Norwegian black metal. Released in early 1993, this features two songs that would later appear on the band's debut full-length, Pentagram, yet these versions possess a completely different atmosphere. With this recording, you can almost smell the rotting blood that stains the altar of Gorgoroth.

Other than the chaotic and hellish intro, "Gathered at Blåkulla", this demo features only two songs, both of which were re-recorded for the first album. "Sexual Bloodgargling" is an earlier version of "Ritual", just with a worse title. This is joined by "(Under) the Pagan Megalith". Structurally, both songs are the same as the L.P. versions. As far as the songwriting goes, they were already in a completed form by 1993. However, as a result of the production and the execution, to some extent, this older recording sounds much more raw and hateful.

The first thing to mention has to be the vocals. Hat's vocal approach on this demo is nothing like the sound he would later adopt and is more reminiscent of Varg's work on the early Burzum albums, being more of a shriek. That said, the tone is less anguished than it is just utterly consumed with pure, cold hatred. The first time that I heard this, the vocals seemed like the real weak point of the demo. Nevertheless, after a few listens, it became clear that this much more primal sound suits the manner in which the music is presented, here.

The production is not the best, with some volume issues and the common problem of the drums being too loud in the mix, compared to the guitars. Still, somehow, the rougher production gives the music even more of an old school feel. In particular, "(Under) the Pagan Megalith" features some thrash parts, as well as riffs obviously inspired by Celtic Frost, near the end. The shoddy sound of this demo actually works well to accentuate this old school atmosphere moreso than on the full-length.

The playing does not seem to be as smooth as on Pentagram, at times, but this does not have a detrimental effect. It works in unison with the rough production and Hat's inhuman shrieking, creating a primitive atmosphere that is much uglier than what the band would go on to do. In some cases, when demo tracks are re-recorded for an album, in basically the same form, there is no need to hear the originals. That is not the case with A Sorcery Written in Blood. This demo is mandatory for any Gorgoroth fan and should be in the collection of anyone into Norwegian black metal.
(14 Sept. 2012)


In April 1994, roughly one year after releasing their first demo, Gorgoroth decided to release a promo tape that included two new songs to be featured on their upcoming full-length, Pentagram. The band's sound had been streamlined, just a bit, from the earlier recording. Infernus, Hat and Goat Pervertor had also been joined by Samoth, of Emperor, during this time. The end product sounds more professional than the previous demo, though not nearly as good as the album that would follow.

The songs featured on here are "Katharinas Bortgang" and "Måneskyggens Slave". The latter is somewhat of an odd choice, in that Gorgoroth basically decided to ruin the surprise of the very best song of the upcoming album, six months early. Usually, it would be wise to save that for the full-length and to tease people with something else. Either way, this material must have increased the anticipation for the release of Pentagram, given the high quality of the songs. One of the main differences between this and the tracks on A Sorcery Written in Blood is the somewhat more melodic orientation of the songwriting. There are less old school '80s riffs thrown in, with more of a reliance on the hypnotic tremolo melodies. Both compositions are very dynamic, giving them somewhat of an epic atmosphere that was not present on the first demo. Another major shift is the change in the vocal department. Hat's voice has now become a much higher-pitched rasp, rather than the torn-throat shrieking of before. It flows a little better and suits the music, especially considering that he sounds to have better control over his breathing and a higher lung capacity, but it loses something in that his previous approach was just so utterly hateful that you could truly feel it.

Recorded in Grieghallen and produced by Pytten, the sound here is quite a bit better than A Sorcery Written in Blood. However, this does not represent the final mix that would be used on the full-length, thankfully. Though these are the same recordings that appear on the album, the overall sound is very different. Everything is kind of flat, as opposed to the fuller and more powerful sound of Pentagram. It is almost like the different between Transilvanian Hunger and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. This is good in that it shows improvement from the demo and gives a decent idea of what is to come, but it cannot compare to the finished versions.

Promo '94 was likely a useful release at the time, keeping the band's name out there during a time when so many classic albums were being released. However, it is rather useless now. These are the exact same recordings that are on the Gorgoroth's first full-length, just with an inferior mix, so there is not even the curiosity of hearing a different version of the songs, as with the demo. This is not even really recommended for die-hard fans, as it just offers so little. If you seek this out at all, find one a reissue that also contains the previous demo tracks.
(16 Sept. 2012)

Pentagram (1994)

Pentagram is a classic album of True Norwegian black metal. On this album, Gorgoroth did everything right. Nothing is out of place. Every riff, every arrangement... every single note is exactly as it should be. This should be regarded as nothing less than a masterpiece. The only negatives that anyone might be able to dig up is that it bears similarities to bands such as Mayhem, Burzum and Darkthrone. The rhythm section, in particular, brings to mind some of the faster material from the early Burzum albums; however, this seems to be executed in a style similar to what Mayhem did on De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. The drums are kept simple enough (taking a cue from Darkthrone) and add the occasional fill when needed. At times, the intensity of built up to introduce a new riff, but they march forward, steadily, for the most part. The heavy echo gives them a thunderous feel, reminiscent of Burzum. The rhythm guitar adheres to a similar pattern, filling in the low frequencies and providing the melodic foundation for the harmonies of the lead guitar. Despite these influences being obvious (aren't Darkthrone's influences quite apparent as well?), Infernus displays a great talent for songwriting and has created some truly amazing riffs. However, stunning riffs don't necessarily equal a classic album. That's where the arrangements come in. Everything is played at precisely the right moment, sending chills down your spine, at times. Pentagram shows a great sense of climactic narration that takes you to the heights of the mountaintops and back into the swirling abyss, damned to suffer eternally. For every bit of vicious energy that comes through, there is also an atmosphere of sorrow. All the instruments work together to create compositions of breathtaking artistry. The vocals are no exception.

Hat's extremely high-pitched vocals are absolutely insane. To my knowledge, there was nothing else quite like this at the time, and no one has ever come close since. Apparently, there are some that do not appreciate his vocal approach and I can't fathom why, as it suits the music without question. His voice seems to take the role of a rhythmic instrument, rather than as a 'lead singer'. This is an intense album, to be sure, but the percussive vocals give it the final touch it needed to go beyond perfection. Despite showing some influences, this album is quite unique and added yet another element to the developing Norwegian black metal scene.

The album opens with "Begravelsesnatt", which translates to "Burialnight". This song is very short, and goes for the throat immediately. The fast tremolo-picked melodies cut through you as the high-pitched screams penetrate your skull. The style seems similar to Darkthrone, yet the execution is closer to Mayhem. The pace slows down just a little bit, right near the end.

Next is "Crushing the Scepter (Regaining A Lost Dominion), which is a bit slower and features some slower, doom-filled sections, and the open-arpeggio riffing that Burzum is known for. After plodding along, the song speeds up once more and unleashes a freezing cold lead harmony. As the song slows down once more, a sorrowful melody carries it to its conclusion. This is true brilliance.

"Ritual" begins with fast guitars, a somber melody and blasting drums, but quickly turns into a mid-paced dirge, complete with tormented screams from beyond. After swimming through lakes of fire, the song speeds up and slows down, carrying you to the peak and then letting you fall to the jagged rocks below.

"Drømmer Om Død" is next and starts with a more simplistic pace. Beautiful lead harmonies, weave in and out, until the song builds up into a complete monster, crushing everything in its path. The thunderous drums, menacing guitars and hellish vocals unleash their fury before fading away, leaving only an echo.

"Katharinas Bortgang" begins with the same intensity as the title track from Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss. Rather than droning or using repetition to lull the listener into a trance, the song builds, steadily, higher and higher in an effort to unleash war upon the pearly gates. The melodies are nothing short of pure genius.

"Huldrelokk" is an instrumental track that features a good number of excellent riffs. The speed is fast yet the harmonies create a dark atmosphere, as is present on the rest of the album. How a two minute instrumental piece can possibly be so epic, I'll never quite understand. Credit must, again, be given to the sheer brilliance of Infernus.

"(Under) The Pagan Megalith" keeps up the pace from the previous song, carried along by Hat's inhuman screaming. The song features a surprising thrash riff, then slows down into something reminiscent of Under A Funeral Moon, complete with bells, before speeding up once more. I once heard someone say that Gorgoroth was a generic black metal band. Honestly, I have to wonder if they've even heard this because this is anything but generic.

And, finally, we come to "Måneskyggens Slave". This is the climax of the entire album, and one of the most epic black metal compositions ever made. Everything is here; the fast tremolo riffs, the slower arpeggio riffs, the blasting drums, the terrible shrieks, the freezing melodies... More important is the way that everything is arranged. The break, where everything stops except the guitar is one of my favorite moments on the whole album. Like any great, epic song, this takes you on a journey. However, even describing every single note would never come close to explaining the importance of this song. The melodies are dark and sorrowful, yet the song is filled with energy. There is a definite 'metal' vibe (for lack of a better term) that seems to urge you on, as if into battle. You know that your enemy possesses greater numbers and that you will not defeat them, yet you will meet them in battle, nonetheless.

Twenty-nine minutes. Just under half an hour, yet this possesses the epic nature of an album twice as long, at least. Sometimes forgotten, Pentagram is evidence that Gorgoroth were equal to and, sometimes, superior to their peers in Norway and beyond. 1994 saw the release of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Transilvanian Hunger, Hvis Lyset Tar Oss and even In the Nightside Eclipse, yet none of these highly regarded albums can overshadow the brilliance put forth here. Gorgoroth may have arrived a little late, but they were in no way inferior to the rest. If you don't own this, seek it out at any and all cost.

(9 Sept. 2008)

Antichrist (1995)

Antichrist is the second Gorgoroth album, released in 1995. This album is very much in the vein of its predecessor, Pentagram, while maintaining an identity of its own. This album introduces a new vocalist, Pest (of Obtained Enslavement), while also featuring Hat on some songs as well. Handling the drumming duties on this outing is Frost, of Satyricon, utilizing a more minimalist approach to suit the music.

It is difficult to process how one man can write so many brilliant guitar riffs, yet Infernus seems to do so with ease. His influences are not hard to discern, yet they come together in a distinctive style. Also, while creating raw black metal, Gorgoroth always maintain a high level of power in their compositions.

The album opens with a brief intro, "En Stram Lukt av Kristent Blod". This is not particularly noteworthy and adds very little to the album, really. The true beginning of the album is "Bergtrollets Hevn". This song shows the same type of melody as on Pentagram, with slight progression. Hat's vocals maintain the very raspy approach from the previous album, though seeming a little more in control. Frost employs some old school drum beats, in the beginning and end, unleashing double bass throughout. Following a couple verses, a short break leads the listener into a crushing acceleration, which will give way to the return of the opening riff at the end, accentuated by Hat's screams. The song ends with the sound of winter winds blowing across the desolate landscape.

The winds lead into one of the best riffs ever created, as the song "Gorgoroth" begins. This is, definitely, one of the highlights of the band's career, alongside "Maaneskyggens Slave". Beginning abruptly, the fast tremolo riffs and blastbeats are reminiscent of Transilvanian Hunger; the layers of guitar and bass work well to create a somber atmosphere. This song progresses narratively, building up climactic tension with every part towering over the previous one with a dramatic increase of passion. It starts out on an extremely high level already. A high-pitched, vibrant and humblingly epic lead hovers over crushing blastbeats, commanding attention on its own, and in a move only few bands can manage to pull off, lead and rhythm change places. The lead remains the same, but the instruments at lower pitch that previously only provided the simplistic, high-speed background take a lead role by morphing into a memorable, beautiful accentuated melody at moves into the foreground, amplifying the epic character of the opening part's atmosphere. After this introductory theme has reached the peak of its build-up, it is released into the triplet-beat that is all too common in black metal, but that only few bands can pull of as well as Gorgoroth do here. It is hard to describe how captivating the combination of rhythm, riff and vocal performance is, it is simply stunning. There is some variation in the form of drumless pieces of atmospheric build-up to enhance the emotional experience even more. The guitars are quite similar to early Mayhem ("Life Eternal") or Burzum, while the drum work is similar to old Bathory. A short guitar solo finishes the triplet-based part, and you can hear that this solo was put in merely for effect, to ease the listener into the final parts of this song, which then pre-climaxes in the kind of lead only Infernus could write, then when you thought you had reached the absolute highest point, it gets better, and even better after that. After the neck-breaking lead you had probably first mistaken for the climax, a second short solo a lot more beautiful than the last thrusts the emotional threshold even higher, and just seconds later, a brilliant part carried by clean, mournful vocals carries the song into the majesty of the night sky.

"Possessed (By Satan)" begins with a very old school feeling. A Celtic Frost influence is apparent, at first, then the song continues with more of a galloping drumbeat. The song speeds up, mid-way through, with memorable riffs, before returning to the previous theme. Pest's vocals also display a noticeable accent, which I haven't noticed in much o fhis other work. It adds to the feel, nicely.

"Heavens Fall" is an instrumental that would not have sounded out of place on Pentagram. Halfway through, the pace switches to an old Hellhammer/Celtic Frost rhythm, followed by a couple screams from Pest, before galloping toward the battlefield.

The final song, "Sorg", is another highlight of this album. The sound of thunder and rain, accompanied by bells, remind one of the song "Black Sabbath". This is a black metal funeral march. The atmosphere is one of sorrow and the vocals are sparse and suit the music well. Here, again, Hat utilizes clean vocals, sounding like a choir of the damned. The song is very slow-paced and melodic. It is like a dark journey through the cold gravelands. Despite being raw black metal, the production is quite clear, as on Pentagram. Some of the riffs, near the middle, are reminiscent of Black Sabbath, though not as obvious as Ophthalamia's debut. The last verse is again sung with clean and somber voice, and Hat's last note is made longer by a very strong reverb, left alone to fade away slowly, slowly... The silence is broken by more thunder and the sounds of the falling rain as this classic album fades to black...

Overall, there is little to complain about, regarding this release. It is a bit short, but accomplishes what it intended to within that time. It's not quite the monster that is Pentagram, but a worthy follow-up, nonetheless.
(6 Dec. 2008)

Under the Sign of Hell (1996)

Under the Sign of Hell is the third album from Gorgoroth and, at the time, seemed like a bit of a departure from the sound that had been established on such classics as Pentagram and Antichrist. The sound is far less clear on this album; trading clarity for a very abrasive rawness. The guitars and bass seem to be tuned down, and the drums are featured a bit more prominently in the mix. As for the vocals, what can be said. Pest unleashes his most hellish performance, here.

From the first song, "Revelation of Doom", they unleash a chaotic fury of blast beats, thrashy guitars and inhumanly hateful shrieks. At a time when many of their contemporaries were "evolving", Infernus and his cohorts seem content to become even more primitive. The song is rather short, but does well to set the stage for what is to come. Also, in only a few minutes, it showed a lot of variety in tempo changes. It is cold, misanthropic and utterly merciless.

"Krig" begins with a brilliant tremolo riff, showcasing the great talent possessed by Infernus. The atmosphere is far from the somber darkness, found on previous efforts. This is pure madness. Pest's vocals are filled with hatred and dementia. The title is very appropriate, as this sounds like total war upon the feeble sheep of the mythical Jew-saviour. You can almost smell the blood on your sword.

As soon as the previous song ends, "Funeral Procession" begins, leaving almost no time for listeners to take a breath. This features some slower sections, with ghastly moaning and a woman's death gasp. Just under the two minute mark, Infernus unleashes some absolutely brilliant melodies. Enough can never be said to praise the songwriting abilities of this man. How many can make such short songs feel so epic?

The next song begins with calm sounds of the North wind blowing cold, as a faint guitar is heard in the distance. As "Profetens Åpenbaring" really gets going, the atmosphere is quite different than what one would expect from a Gorgoroth album, though hints of this first emerged on Antichrist. The clean vocals, and the rhythm of the song, are reminiscent of Isengard. Pest still manages to wield enough of his demonic screeching, throughout the song.

"Postludium" is an eerie track of backward messages and strange noises. This brief nightmare is what Gorgoroth considers to be a break from the madness.

"Ødeleggelse og Undergang" begins with fast tremolo riffs, blasting drums and insanely hellish vocals. This is, possibly, the best song on the album. It contains the trademark Infernus riffs that have made Gorgoroth among the elite of Norwegian black metal. About a minute or so in, the atmosphere becomes much darker. The pace slows down, as Infernus utilizes haunting open-arpeggio notes. This is the time to light the black candles, to unsheathe the blade and to bleed in the cold night air. Carve your chest open and gouge your own heart out, throwing this symbol of humanity onto the snow-covered ground and embracing emptiness...

"Blood Stains the Circle" is a direct continuation of the previous song, as it flows seamlessly from one to the next. Pest's screams become absolutely insane and out of control. The pace is unrelenting. On this night, you will bleed until the last drop.

"The Rite of Infernal Invocation" is the longest song on the album. It is also the only one to feature a guitar solo. The song structure is very reminiscent of older bands, with a lot of thrashy riffs present. After a few minutes of hellish frenzy, there is nothing but some bizarre effect, similar to the sounds made by the demonic spirits from "The Evil Dead". This goes on for a few minutes, leading into the final song.

The album concludes with "The Devil Is Calling", which is consumed by an oldschool black metal feeling. As it fades in, it is pure evil dripping like blood from a slashed throat. This embodies the spirit of Hellhammer and Bathory, while being pure genius from the mind of Infernus. This mid-paced song is another highlight of Under the Sign of Hell.

This is probably the last of the essential Gorgoroth albums, as others would come along and contaminate those releases that followed this one. If any album is like a fist in the faces of feeble Christian scum, this is it.
(6 Feb. 2009)


Destroyer is the fourth full-length album from Gorgoroth, and it is appropriately titled. Rather than being a normal studio effort, this is a collection of songs that were recorded between 1994 and 1998, with each track featuring a different line-up. Infernus must have been incredibly burnt-out following Under the Sign of Hell, as this was a horrible idea and only served to demonstrate that the band's creativity was running on low. This makes even less sense, considering that this was their first effort for a larger label, Nuclear Blast. As brilliant as the early Gorgoroth output is, this 1998 release did nothing to add to their legacy.

Musically, this record shows a lot of inconsistency. There are only a few songs that are even worth hearing, and those pale in comparison to those that came before. The freezing cold tremolo melodies of "Open the Gates" are memorable enough, and this track is probably the best one on here. This sounds the closest to the material on the previous album, which is natural since it includes three of the four members that were present on Under the Sign of Hell. A similar feel is found on "Om kristen og jødisk tru" and "The Virginborn", which are both performed by the same line-up. The former is somewhat reminiscent of "Funeral Procession, while the latter is much slower and possesses more of an epic atmosphere. These three songs are the only ones that would really appeal to fans of older Gorgoroth. The rest is better left unheard.

The negative aspects of this album are many. Much of it is experimental trash that has no business being passed off under the Gorgoroth name. "The Devil, the Sinner and His Journey" is a brief track that would be boring enough on its own, but the pitiful synth makes it seem like more of a joke. The keyboards have a spacey effect, as if Infernus wanted to mix black metal with his love of Star Wars. The title track is beyond lame and sounds like a throwaway track from Darkthrone's Total Death. Gaahl's vocals are exceptionally terrible, which would be a running theme during his entire tenure with the band. This is rather odd, as his work on the first Trelldom album was not bad, at all. "Blodoffer" is another laughable song that demonstrates exactly why Infernus never bothered to take over vocal duties for the band. His voice is drowning in effects, which only makes him sound ten times worse than he would have, already. There are also a lot of sound effects that distract from the riffs, generic though they might be. Compared to all of these, "På Slagmark Langt Mot Nord" does not sound all that bad, though it falls short is matching the level of the other tracks that feature Pest on vocals. Still, it might be worth hearing, just to decide.

One of the most disappointing songs on this album has to be the cover of Darkthrone's "Slottet I Det Fjerne". Based on Gorgoroth's previous style, as well as the fact that this is a brilliant song to begin with, one would expect it to be impossible for this to come out poorly. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Not only was the pace of the song sped up, but the emphasis was taken off of the great guitar melodies and the focus was shifted to the effects-laden vocals of Infernus and the terrible drum programming. Why the hell this ever came into being is anyone's guess, as Gorgoroth really butchered this song in the worst possible way.

This was the album that signified the death of Gorgoroth, for the time being. It would not have been so bad, if the few decent songs on here had been released as an E.P. Even then, the material could have used a little more work and a less irritating production. Destroyer is certainly not worth purchasing, so it is recommended that you seek out the handful of passable songs by some other means, but do not waste money on this.
(8 Feb. 2012)


The story behind this album should be well-known to most. In late 2007, two pathetic posers (that never should have been involved in the black metal scene) attempted to usurp control of Gorgoroth from its very creator. After a couple years of legal drama, during which time Infernus continued to work on new material, justice prevailed. He then put together a new lineup which included former vocalist, Pest, and set out to restore the Gorgoroth name. The resulting album, Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt, was finally released in October 2009, through Regain Records.

This album is by no means a return to the glory days of Pentagram and Antichrist, but it still possesses the same spirit. The songwriting of Infernus is rather unmistakable, even if there is more mid-paced and atmospheric material than before. Pest's gravelly rasps suit the music very well and his presence definitely helped in making this feel like a real Gorgoroth record. Songs like "Prayer" and "Rebirth" create a somewhat sorrowful feeling, especially with the open-arpeggios and slower pace. One of the best instances of this would have to be during the second half of "New Breed". This song features hauntingly dreary guitars that drag you down into the abyss and stab you with countless daggers of ice. The band had already ventured into such territory in the past, with songs like "Sorg", so it all comes across as perfectly natural.

The strongest connection with the old days is, of course, "Satan Prometheus". It starts out with the classic Gorgoroth sound; raspy vocals spewing hatred over fast tremolo riffs and blasting drums. It has sort of an epic feeling and is probably the most dynamic song on the album. The somber melodies combine with various tempo changes and even some clean vocals to give the listener a sense of being taken on a journey into the unknown. Late in the song, the whole feeling changes and the pace is that of a funeral march. The track ends with hellish screams being drawn out over mournful melodies.

"See the hordes ascend
Crushing the face of god
See the horns rise
The eternal reign of Satan"

It would have been nice if there were more such songs on the album, featuring the trademark guitar melodies that hearken back to the mid-'90s. Actually, it's too bad that this song didn't feature more of the fast tremolo riffs, instead of moving on so quickly to the mid-paced stuff. There are brief flashes of brilliance, here and there, but they are not always expanded upon.

For the most part, the compositions lack any true aggression or darkness. Even during the fast parts of "Building a Man", for example, the riffs are melodic and are bereft of a sense of urgency or strength. Infernus never was known for creating a pitch-black atmosphere with his songs anyway, though. Still, some of the songwriting is very simplistic and dull, reminiscent of Dissection's Reinkaos. Unfortunately, there is another similarity that does quite a lot to spoil this album.

The drumming of Tomas Asklund is absolutely wretched, along with his sterile, plastic, soulless production. This guy sounds exactly like a drum machine and his robotic style has no place in black metal. It sounds like there were a thousand mics on his drum kit, to make sure everything can be heard with perfect clarity. It's atrocious. I understand that skilled drummers can be difficult to come by, especially ones that have their own studio, so I imagine some of these bands just tolerate all of this to save time and money. Either way, his performance and the overall sound he created for this record is pretty much a death sentence. The band could have made a perfect Pentagram Part II, and it would sound like garbage because of Asklund's involvement.

Despite its flaws, this is still the best Gorgoroth album since Under the Sign of Hell, over a decade ago. The slick, modern production and awful drummer may turn some off to it, but dedicated fans of the band's old albums should definitely give this a listen. While it's not exactly a return to form, this at least sounds like a natural extension of those early albums, since Infernus is back at the helm. Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt sounds like an updated version of the musical vision that began back then, as if the middle period was some nightmare that has now been forgotten.
(22 Oct. 2009)


After the release of Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt, it was revealed that Gorgoroth would re-record one of their classic albums with the new line-up. The victim of this treatment was none other than Under the Sign of Hell. While there were things about the overall production of that album that could have stood some alteration, much moreso than Pentagram or Antichrist, it was still a record that possessed its own identity and was a worthy chapter in the band's history. In fact, the final one prior to the last album. Unfortunately, the re-recorded version of this black metal classic was spawned in the home studio of Tomas Asklund (the only reason anyone puts up with him) and features his mechanical drumming style. The end product is an album that is far inferior to the original, in every conceivable way, and something that was little more than a waste of time.

The production of this record is bloody awful, and Asklund should be dragged out into the nearest street and shot. Due to his horrible ego, the drumming is far too high in the mix (something that plagued the original), yet it lacks any sense of character and just makes the music sound sterile and void of any sort of feeling. The guitar riffs seem incredibly weak, as well, rendered ineffective and harmless by the modern production. Infernus is a very gifted songwriter, yet one would be hard-pressed to notice, thanks to the miserable sound quality. his brilliant guitar melodies are buried and take on a supporting role, serving as background noise for Asklund's percussion. This is a bloody travesty, as everything is backward and wrong. Riffs that were once powerful and commanding are now impotent and timid. Even Pest's vocals are less impressive, now bereft of the vicious tone of the past. Whereas he once sounded possessed, he now seems to be going through the motions. In fact, that is probably accurate regarding this entire project. One has to wonder why they even bothered to do this if they were not going to give their best effort. If Infernus thinks that this pile of garbage does justice to the original, then the court case must have taken more of a toll on him than previously imagined.

Regarding the music, there is not much to say. Gorgoroth, pretty much, plays everything exactly as it was on the original record, note for note. This is not even a re-interpretation, like Burzum's From the Depths of Darkness; instead, this is nothing more than the band playing through an old album, doing their best to avoid any sort of deviation. Again, there was nothing about the material that warranted this re-recording. Infernus does not appear to have any regrets about the album as it was recorded back in 1997. The only complaint that anyone could have about Under the Sign of Hell would be the abrasive production. Nonetheless, it was a sound that would grow on you over time, unlike this lifeless and boring reproduction. It is good to hear Gorgoroth playing this sort of music again and one would hope that the next album is more in line with the older albums; however, they desperately need to recruit a new drummer and to switch to a different studio before doing so.

Under the Sign of Hell 2011 was a mistake. There is not one single improvement to be found, here. Whatever motivated Infernus to do this shall remain a mystery. Rather than tarnishing their name by offering up such a bland re-recording, the band could have been working on a new record. Sadly, if it shares the same type of production as this, then it may be worthless as well. Infernus needs to wake up and realize that Tomas Asklund is killing his band. It is like Gríma Wormtongue and King Théoden, from The Lord of the Rings. Infernus thinks that Asklund is helping him by playing drums and providing a convenient studio. The truth of the matter is that the miserable Swede is a cancer that needs to be carved out of Gorgoroth. Despite how rotten this release is, at least everyone is free to listen to the original instead. Avoid this.
(26 Nov. 2011)


Following the soap opera surrounding the rights to the Gorgoroth name, it seemed as if Infernus was motivated to reclaim the band's former glory and to prove his worth. Though Quantos... had its problems, it was the best thing they had released since Under the Sign of Hell. At that time, he talked about working on new material already, thus much was expected from these guys. Then a couple years passed and all they had to offer was a very poor re-recording of one of their classic albums (always a bad idea), displaying their refusal to abandon the modern and plastic sound of Asklund's studio. Four years later, it appears that they failed to learn from their mistakes. Perhaps, Quantos... was an anomaly, and Gorgoroth is condemned to remain a shadow of its former self. The June 2015 release of Instinctus Bestialis confirms this feeling and serves as a disappointing epitaph for a once-relevant band.

The first issue to address is the horribly modern and plastic production job, courtesy of Tomas Asklund. It is understandable to a degree. Competent drummers are difficult to come by, but to find one with his own studio is even better, in the eyes of Infernus. It was the same during Asklund's tenure with Dissection and also Infernal. Unfortunately, his technique is terrible and sounds like a drum machine, so there would not be much difference if they had skipped out on including him at all and simply used a drum program. It's not as if he even plays live with them, so his membership in the band is entirely worthless and adds nothing but a disgustingly sterile and souldead sound to the music, through his role as producer and as the trigger-happy drummer. His overactive performance does not ruin as much as one might expect since the songwriting, itself, is extremely flawed. That is the second main problem with Instinctus Bestialis. Infernus must have been quite confused while composing these songs, forgetting that Gorgoroth is supposed to be a black metal band. Too many of these riffs, as demonstrated already in the second song, sound like modern death metal. I doubt anyone waits in anticipation for a new Gorgoroth album so that they can hear pointless chugging and generic melodeath. The magic is gone. Infernus might be able to pull a few decent melodies from his mind, but even half of those are just rehashed from previous songs, such as "Ad Omnipotens Aeterne Diabolus" lifting ideas from "Satan-Prometheus", while the other half seem to be rejected Dissection riffs. Similarly, "Awakening" sounded better the first time I heard it, on the previous full-length, under the title "Aneuthanasia". Finally, the new vocalist is rather worthless and the epitome of average. It may be that the deeper vocals were desired since the direction of the music has changed so much. I'm not sure that even Pest could have saved this wretched pile of excrement. So while the vocals are boring and not at all what one would expect for this band, the end result is not effected so much, due to the poor and forgettable songwriting.

This is what happens when people become professional musicians. Instinctus Bestialis possesses no true spirit, and deep down Infernus knows it. This is merely a commercial product that is meant to make some money for the band so that they can continue touring and living off of the music, instead of having to get real jobs. I'd considered Gorgoroth to be dead several years ago, but Quantos... gave hope that things were back on track, in the hands of Infernus. Instead, he's proven that he no longer has it, and that this band is irrelevant. Gorgoroth is not the band to keep the black flame alive, so forget them. Instead, look to Finland and the likes of Clandestine Blaze and Horna, or just stick with the classics. Either way, avoid this pile of garbage.
(21 June 2015)

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