Released: 2009, Regain Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Gorgoroth has been something of the black metal soap opera recently. Rifts between band members, legal battles over the rights to the name, ex-frontman Gaahl coming out of the closet and declaring himself to be a dressmaking fashionista, it’s been the kind of stuff that’s so bizarre for such an evil horde of dudes that it just has to be true. So now that the dust has settled and original/founding guitarist Infernus has revamped Gorgoroth with a new lineup and subsequently a new studio album. The resulting QUANTOS POSSUNT AD SATANITATEM TRAHUNT (QPAST for short) is the most ferocious and frankly the most interesting that the band has sounded in quite a while.
While Gorgoroth has always been reliable to push both buttons and boundaries, QPAST shows Gorgoroth stripping away the fluff and getting back to a more raw, stripped down approach that’s been missing from recent albums. The return of former vocalist Pest to the ranks is a welcomed move, as his cold and menacing snarl gives the band some much needed bite and really carries much of the album. Infernus handles all of the guitar duties here, (although former guitarist Tormentor has returned to the fold as well since the recording of the album), and has cast aside many of the current black metal trappings in favor of a more old school, Bathory-esque approach to his riffs. As such, QPAST stands apart from the glut of cookie cutter black metal releases currently on the market. Tomas Asklund (ex-Dark Funeral, ex-Dissection) is on board behind the drum kit and gives the band some new flavor beyond the typical blast beats. And most notably, Obituary bassist Frank Watkins handles bass duties here under the moniker “Bøddel,” although you’d never know it as he’s criminally buried underneath the mix. Why recruit a talent like Watkins to play on your album if nobody’s going to be able to hear his handiwork? A rhetorical question, I know, but one that I’m sure many fans are asking.
The album kicks off with the one-two punch of “Aneuthanasia” and “Prayer” before things really get interesting. “Rebirth” is really the defining track for the new Gorgoroth. Wrapped in a slow, somber melody, the tune is as cold as Norwegian winter and utterly compelling as Pest declares the “rebirth of Gor-gor-oth!!!” The album continues with a little something for everybody – be it the stomping thrash of “New Breed” and “Cleansing Fire” to the traditional metal vibe of “Human Sacrifice” to the blackened blast of “Satan Prometheus,” there’s a lot to like. The eclectic mix of songs on QPAST seems to show that the new Gorgoroth is willing to take some necessary chances and won’t be bound to what’s deemed acceptable within the hard core black metal community or even by their own history. It harkens back to what black metal was all about in its emergent days – raw and unapologetic with a middle finger raised proudly in the air.
In Gorgoroth tradition, the album clocks in just above the 30 minute mark. While a few extra songs would have been nice, QPAST makes sure that the message is relayed without overstaying its welcome. The production values are pretty bare bones, but it’s intentional and plays to the strengths of the nine songs on the album. A strong album from start to finish, QPAST may take a few listens before it can be fully appreciated, but each listen will pull you in just a little bit more. Plainly said, QUANTOS POSSUNT AD SATANITATEM TRAHUNT is not only a great black metal album; it’s a great METAL album, period. If you’ve never bothered to give Gorgoroth a listen, this is the perfect opportunity to correct such an ill. A fitting rebirth for a band that was becoming a caricature of itself, Gorgoroth is back with an album that Satan himself would be proud to have in his collection and one that you should have in yours.