Gorgoroth - Pentagram - Antichrist - Under the Sign of Hell
Regain Records
True Black Metal
Disc 1: 8 songs (29'17") Disc 2: 6 songs (24'59") Disc 3: 9 songs (32'53")
Release year: 1994
Gorgoroth, Regain Records
Reviewed by Alex
Archive review

I have no right or grounds to be expressing my official position about Gorgoroth current state of affairs. Nor that the album reviewing website, this or any other, can have a position (even if people cared to know what it was). You can say all you want about Infernus’ moral stature, but we have to let the dignified Norwegian legal system handle that. Yet, black metal fan or not, as a person who also has been creating with my own brain, I have to support a man about to be robbed of his intellectual property, backed up into a corner by some who he formerly considered colleagues, those who supposedly shared his beliefs and goals. Infernus (Roger Tiegs) is about to be dispossessed of the band he created, having been kicked out of the band by Gaahl and King ov Hell, who did a very commendable job on Gorgoroth later albums. Those newer players brought the band to a whole new level with intense vocals in the case of the former and instrumental/songwriting skills in the case of the latter. The latest I heard, Norwegian patent office has ruled in favor of the duo, leaving Infernus to hold an empty bag. Perhaps some legal details nobody is aware of were produced at the hearing, or some paperwork surfaced, but the truth remains that Infernus has been in the band from the very beginning, the only founding member remaining throughout its existence. The testament are the re-mastered reissues of Gorgoroth first three albums, just put out by Regain Records, the official label of the band, placing their support squarely into Infernus’ corner. What could be then the better occasion to refresh the memory of those seminal black metal efforts?

Pentagram, which originally came out in 1994, the year of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas and Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, is an epitome of a True Black Metal release. Armed with mostly hate, as the passion is flowing up to the brims, Gorgoroth delivered if not the first original Satanic Black Metal album, then they certainly made a statement. Just look at that classic cover, band’s logo on black background, nothing else, and start feeling coldness to ooze. This music does not need the proclamations of “no keyboards, no female vocals”. The album, barely 30 min long, is full of succinct blasts, the sort of “veni, vidi, vici” when coming, seeing and conquering is done in a span of short 2-3 minutes. Goat blasts along with little hints of intricacy or fills, legendary Samoth’s bass is barely audible, Hat is screaming his lungs out (some have always maintained that his pitch is too high, unnatural, and thus has been put through pitch-shifter). For me, the attraction is Infernus’ riffs, intense, charging, but also cleverly progressing and subtly melodic, guitar harmonics in constant tune with the underlying rhythmic base. As much as the record is focused, Crushing the Scepter manages to show versatility ranging from grinding march to drag out doom to trance-like blasting spiced with folk (Russian?) melodies. My personal favorite has always been the closer Maaneskyggens Slave, the epic composition full of melodic tremolo making it sound both demonic and heroic at the same time.

Next, without a deviation in the cover theme, Gorgoroth delivered Antichrist, which began where Pentagram left off, with melodic Bergtrollets Hevn and monster of the band eponymous track. Gorgoroth is what elevated Antichrist, making it a favorite for many, not to mention the sentimental feeling as Antichrist was dedicated to Euronymous. Another short album, even shorter than Pentagram, Antichrist seems to be a little top heavy, quality over quantity notion still present, but the former wearing off starting with thrashy clunkers Possessed by Satan and Heavens Fall. It is not until Under the Sign of Hell, the most consistent of the Gorgoroth early recordings, the band got on point delivering those blackened fast punches in the form of The Rite of Infernal Invocation.

Not sure where Pest vocals came in on Antichrist, although credits are given, but he handles the voices on Under the Sign of Hell, ranging from insane pandemonium laughter to melodic singing and even some clean chants on Profetens Apenbaring. Blood Stains the Circle is a good example of his varied approach, the constant being the guts are always spilled inside out. It is hard to eliminate any track on the album as a weaker one. Krig is menacing, while Funeral Procession almost forces itself to restrain, so that atmospheric eeriness can be poured into it. Profetens Apenbaring is a runaway train ride, Odeleggelse og Undergang is a dark march up’n’down the throat of your enemies, while the aforementioned The Rite of Infernal Invocation delivers the grind with blinding speed. Even though drumming of Frost ornated Antichrist, Grim is just as expressive, pummeling his kit most of the time, yet having the presence of mind to slow down on Funeral Procession and The Devil is Calling. His presence on the album is even more moving, considering that he committed suicide a few years later having laid some intricate and progressive drumming with the early Borknagar. Norwegian festival Hole in the Sky is dedicated to Grim’s memory.

Proclaiming the arrival of Hell and ascendance of Satan, Gorgoroth, if not the first original black metal band, were one of the first who combined the Satanic spirit with the metal aspect, trailblazing the road for numerous to follow. Tsjuder, Calvarium and Urgehal are some bands who owe their sole existence to Gorgoroth, not to mention that the whole notion of Norsecore could have been borne out by Gorgoroth approach. Whereas Marduk reissues seemed a little irrelevant, I would be the first to admit I like theGorgoroth re-masters, taking little rawness away, but instead clean-up only enhancing the enthralling power of this music. Not to mention the label, Regain Records, making a stand for the artist they believe in.

Gorgoroth early albums have an interesting quality to them. For starters, they are obviously essential to any black metal fan to have, but they have a strange ability to hook a non-black metal fan as well. Never overstaying their welcome, they are probably as melodic as they are extreme, delivering the message with convincing dedication.

Killing Songs :
Alex quoted no quote
Other albums by Gorgoroth that we have reviewed:
Gorgoroth - Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt reviewed by Alex and quoted 93 / 100
Gorgoroth - Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
Gorgoroth - Twilight of the Idols (In Conspiracy with Satan) reviewed by Aaron and quoted 97 / 100
Gorgoroth - Incipit Satan reviewed by Daniel and quoted 67 / 100
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