Gorgoroth

Picture of Gorgoroth

Pentagram

Gorgoroth - Pentagram ©1994 Embassy Productions
1. Begravelsesnatt
2. Crushing the Scepter (Regaining a Lost Dominion)
3. Ritual
4. Drømmer Om Død
5. Katharinas Bortgang
6. Huldrelokk
7. (Under) The Pagan Megalith
8. Måneskyggens Slave

The debut of Gorgoroth is one of those black metal records that, despite being played close the vest and without any adornment, enters your church (or mosque or other holy structure where the devout hang with their other devoted buds) and torches it. Moreover, they do not linger to watch the flames shoot towards the sky. Rather, they skulk back into their dark, grim forest where presumably they feast upon the entrails of virgin damsels. And they do this all with guitars.

Pentagram features a somewhat different recording lineup than the Gorgoroth(s) that are active today. The album features vocalist Pest, who has one of the more lacerated vocal deliveries. His approach is classic raw black metal, sounding as though he can't speak for a month after a recording session. Pentagram also tends to stick to the point, with songs refusing to stick around. The approach is hardly unique to the genre, but Gorgoroth does it well, particularly on the opening track "Begravelsesnatt". Most importantly, there's little need to pretty things up with nancy-boy things like keyboards or frilly clean vocals. These are things that perhaps George Michael would do and we've all seen the video of him trolling parks at night.

Although Gorgoroth has had an up and down recording career, I can say without doubt that Pentagram stands as one of their better releases. There's no monkeying around as it provides a quick half hour of what black metal was supposed to be about back in the mid nineties.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2009

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Under The Sign Of Hell

Gorgoroth - Under The Sign Of Hell ©1996 Century Black
1. Revelation Of Doom
2. Krig
3. Funeral Procession
4. Profetens Penbaring
5. Postludium
6. Deleggelse Og Undergang
7. Blood Stains The Circle
8. The Rite Of Infernal Invocation
9. The Devil Is Calling

In the world of no frills black metal, you shouldn't be expecting any of those non-warrior innane things like backing female vocals, pretty keyboards, flutes, cellos or even kazoos. In fact, it's best to be as monochromatic as possible, from the album cover to the actual sound of the music. In that regard, Gorgoroth's Under the Sign of Hell is extremely effective in actually musically portraying their cover art, as their sound is a collage of blacks, whites and shades of gray with nary a blue or red anywhere in the sound. In other words, this is Black Metal, with capital letters.

Though a lot of bands try to pull off this sort of controlled chaos, Gorgoroth actually succeeds here. Yes, I think Black Metal (with the capital letters) is a limited genre and there is only so much you can do within the blitzkrieg tempos and riffing before you run out of ways to string blast beats and speedy riffs together. Fortunately, our friends in Gorgoroth were able to string a lot of interesting pieces together. The music is extremely harsh in the neatest possible sense, with vocals coming from the lacerated throat of someone we must assume has troll in his ancestory. Much of the musical sound comes from the high end, trebly style that black metal has always dwelled within, as well as a hint of 80s Euro-thrash for good measure. Naturally the production is non-existent. This is the type of music you record, not polish up. None of the songs stick out from the crowd to any major degree (though the slick speed rush of "The Rite of Infernal Invocation" is particularly yummy), but on a whole the album is cohesive and takes the listener on a pretty darned nifty ride.

While perhaps not as genre defining as early Darkthrone or as well known as Immortal, Gorgoroth does make themselves a worthy footnote with Under the Sign of Hell, a definite recommendation for those who prefer the uglier side of black metal.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 08/2000

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Destroyer

Gorgoroth - Destroyer ©1998 Nuclear Blast
1. Destroyer
2. Open The Gates
3. The Devil, The Sinner And His Journey
4. Om Kristen Og Jödisk Tru
5. Pa Slagmark Langt Mot Nord
6. Blodoffer
7. The Virginborn

Talk about pointless. Gorgoroth's foray into brutal, primitive black metal just isn't anything worth writing to Hades over. The problem with playing fast-paced, blunt black metal is that speed only allows you so much room to work with and unless you're a brilliant songwriter, the result is going to be quite blah. Much of Destroyer has a hastily thrown together feel, as if the members of the band improvised riffs on the spot, threw some random beats together, and called it a song. Matched with the presumably deliberate trebly production, it just comes across as amateurish. Admittedly, I have heard worse metal in my life, but at the same time, I've heard many many other things that are better. When you hear the speedfest of "The Devil, the Sinner and His Journey", you're not going to be very impressed with the flat riffage or the blast beats because you've heard it all before under a much better songwriting umbrella. For whatever reason, Nuclear Blast has picked up these guys but trust me when I say you can do much better.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Incipit Satan

Gorgoroth - Incipit Satan ©2000 Nuclear Blast
1. Incipit Satan
2. A World To Win
3. Litani Til Satan
4. Unchain My Heart!!!
5. An Excert Of X [sic]
6. Ein Eim Av Blod Og Helvetesild
7. Will To Power
8. When Love Rages Wild In My Heart

Gorgoroth's Incipit Satan is a competently played collection of medium-to-fast speed black metal.

Review by Rog "the Frog" Billerey-Mosier

No, that's not fair.

They use keyboards sparingly, which sometimes recall the soundtrack to a silent horror movie (I was almost expecting Bela Lugosi to come kill me when I heard the intro to "Unchain my Heart" - thankfully not a black metal version of the classic rock song of the same name). The singer sometimes speaks some Nordic tongue in a spooky voice over detuned guitar riffs blatantly stolen from Bathory's third and fourth albums ("Litani til Satan"). There's even an ambient piece ("Will to Power", in which the aforementioned Nordic singer mutters and yells backwards, as he does in "When Love..."). And "When Love Rages Wild in my Heart" has the very same Nordic singer croon (off key at times) like the bastard offspring of an orgy attended by Glenn Danzig, Peter Steele and Jim Morrison. It seems that the producer found a piece of outboard gear that had previously been covered by goat-cheese-and-infant-pepperoni pizza and went all-out with whiz-bang tricks which, to his (her?) credit, were once considered novel, such as backwards speech and spoken word bits.

If you can find it for $1 as I did, it's not *really* a waste of money. Whether it's a waste of your time is up to you.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 09/2000

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Twilight Of The Idols

Gorgoroth - Twilight of the Idols ©2003 Nuclear Blast
1. Procreating Satan
2. Proclaiming Mercy - Damaging the Instinct of Man
3. Exit - Through Carved Stones
4. Teeth Grinding
5. Forces of Satan Storms
6. Blod Og Minne
7. Of Ice and Movement...
8. Domine in Virtute Tua Laetabitur Rex

Beyond some early brilliance in their formative years, there's not a lot of satisfaction in documenting Gorgoroth's recording career. Their trajectory has taken them from a second tier, but occasionally interesting act to a group of inadvertant parodies of black metal "evilness" who fought over T-shirt rights. Some black metal bands were able to continually provide good music along with projecting an actual sense of evil, but Gorgoroth came across as a bunch of comic book caricatures who could only offer paint-by-numbers music by the midpoint of their existence.

At best, Twilight of the Idols is competently performed, but the mere act of being able to play an instrument with some degree of profiency hardly guarantees a mindblowing album. Rather, Gorgorth rumbles through a half hour of black metal with a bit of varying tempos matched with a vocalist trying very hard to sound like a mean Satanist trying to crush all that is holy. Ultimately, he just sounds like any other extreme metal vocalist, lacking distinction and character. In fact, that is the essence of Gorgorth, circa 2003. Lacking distinction and character. Twilight of the Idols is just a bland piece of work that neither builds on their influences (as with many black metal bands, Bathory is the obvious one) nor steps away in any direction to become their own entity.

I suppose the nicest thing I can say about Gorgoroth is that this album is nowhere near as pointless as anything Marduk has ever released. But that's hardly a stunning endorsement. Gorgoroth's handful of early achievements have been followed by a series of utterly generic, bland and unnecessary albums. Perhaps they're fortunate that occasionally they appear in documentaries about extreme metal, but ultimately that has continued to lead to the feeling they're just unintentional comic relief for their scene.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2012

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Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam

Gorgoroth - Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam ©2006 Regain Records
1. Wound Upon Wound
2. Carving a Giant
3. God Seed (Twilight Of the Idols)
4. Sign of an Open Eye
5. White Seed
6. Exit
7. Untamed Forces
8. Prosperity and Beauty

Admittedly, Gorgoroth is a band I rather enjoy picking on. They may have been one of the earlier Norwegian black metal bands to emerge from the festering morass of that notable scene, but their inconsisent output and revolving door of members often put them well behind many of the other bands. Somehow they managed to establish their name as a brand, but they've rarely delivered the goods throughout their career. By 2006, their final album with the Infernus/Graahl/King lineup, Gorgoroth had managed to create the definitive sound of irrelevancy in black metal. This brief half hour of music is without character, dynamics or identity. Much like their other output throughout the 2000s, Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam relies heavily on a wall of sound approach and completely manages to remove all originality in the process. It's very much corpsepaint by numbers throughout the album. In fact, it even out-blands their previous release, which I thought was thoroughly pointless as well.

Perhaps some of this album's blah factor can be explained by the fact that the year after this album was released, Gorgoroth split into two factions. One featured sole original member Infernus, who wanted to revamp the lineup, and other featured Graahl and King trying to retain the name. Eventually this matter made it all the way to the courts (how very un-black metal!) where Infernus was awarded rights to the Gorgoroth brand. I've always assumed that once the split between the two sides occurred, the reality that whoever retained the Gorgoroth name was going to continue making decent money with the merchandising. As the Butthole Surfers once sang, it was no doubt "Some Dispute Over T-Shirt Sales". It is very, very difficult to start a new band without an established name, even if you came from a fairly well known act. I don't doubt for a second that Graahl and King did not want separated from the merchandising aspect of Gorgoroth.

Perhaps this album suffers because the members were just going through the motions with one another by this point. But no matter the reason, your life may actually be a more rewarding place if you never devote a half hour to enduring this entirely lackluster release.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 02/2012

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Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt

Gorgoroth - Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt ©2009 Regain Records
1. Aneuthanasia
2. Prayer
3. Rebirth
4. Building a Man
5. New Breed
6. Cleansing Fire
7. Human Sacrifice
8. Satan-Prometheus
9. Introibo Ad Alatare Satanas

It's probably not the best compliment to a band when my initial response to their newest album is to think to myself, "Well, it's not as sucky as the last one." Gorgoroth hasn't actually been in the business of releasing notable records for well over a decade, but their tenure with Graahl and King was one of musical unnecessity. Most everyone is aware that the band split into two factions and everyone tried to sue each other for merchandising rights (ie: it's easier to sell a Gorgoroth shirt than starting a new band and going through the hard work of ever being noticed). Ultimately original member Infernus won out and recruited back Pest for vocals, as well as Frank Watkins from Obituary and Tomas Asklund, who had played in such bands as Dissection and Dark Funeral. The resulting record, yet another album with a long Latin name, succeeds in not being entirely irrelevant.

But unfortunately, that's about it.

The production reels back in the thick wall of sound that does not favor any sort of dynamics, but it fails to actually incorporate any sort of black metal atmosphere. Early on and presumably before the band had access to big fancy studios, Gorgoroth actually nailed the raw sound that characterizes some of the better black metal bands. But the relatively polished sound just doesn't do much to make these songs more interesting. Of course, it would help if the songs weren't fairly generic and faceless. "Rebirth" is the closest the band comes to something memorable, but that's being generous.

Having heard this band's studio career from start to finish over the years, I'm still baffled how this band achieved any sort of noteriety or continues to draw any sort of interest. While Quantos at least sounds mildly like a band that's almost interesting, there must literally be hundreds of bands that are more worth your time.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2012

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