Released: 2006, Candlelight Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
Norway’s radical black metal scene may have toned itself down in recent years but the unwavering devotion to all things anti-Christian still burns hot within Gorgoroth. On their new CD, AD MAJOREM SATHANAS GLORIAM, the rage, frustration and general misanthropic outlook brought on by the past three years of court battles, lawsuits and ideological warfare has enhanced the music to a feverish pitch. While simultaneously progressive yet rooted firmly in the genre’s old-school principles, the new album sees Gorgoroth blast through 31 minutes of unrepentant fury like a caged animal. Gaahl’s unique voice (one of the most underrated in black metal) lends an air of spirited hate to the songs, cracking with an enraged, bilious growl and howling shriek. Infernus’ riffs cut through the songs with a murderous wrath, punctuating things with a speedball-driven aggression and ominous presence that also carefully balances catchiness. Studio drummer Frost, unleashed here after being reined in on Satyricon’s NOW, DIABOLICAL, delivers a stunning performance that perfectly captures the essence of the material in its foreboding evil and vast desolation. AD MAJOREM SATHANAS GLORIAM could very well be the black metal “must have” of 2006 and certainly is the crowning achievement of Gorgorth’s storied seven-album career.
“Wound Upon Wound” (no song has embodied the aura of black metal better than this in years) rekindles the flame of Gorgoroth’s domination immediately. A blasting inferno of drum beats and razor-sharp riffs drive the song with Gaahl’s grizzled roar echoing through the mix. The entire feeling of AD MAJOREM SATHANAS GLORIAM could be summed up in this one song—speed, aggression, hate, blasphemy; the matrix of black metal malevolence, spelled out in three-and-a-half minutes. Likewise, “God Seed (Twilight of The Idols)” is a fast-paced attack of primitive, old-school black metal that is raw, intense and savage. Rather than settle into a frenzied pace from start to finish, the slow dirge of “Sign of An Open Eye” is a majestic epic, hearkening back to classic Immortal. The spoken word vocal of Gaahl is soft yet bludgeoning and its intensity will haunt the nightmares of any listener. At the other end of the vocal spectrum, Gaahl’s piercing shriek on “White Seed” nearly levels the turbo-fueled intro before a mid-paced groove kicks in and the howling, off-putting vocal outro sends shivers up your spine. Taking another page from the grandiose production and epic songwriting of later-period Immortal, “Prosperity and Beauty” shifts between a sonic beauty and a hyperblasting harshness that owes as much to the band’s Nietzsche-driven dogma and procession towards underworld regality as it does to their basic black metal roots.
Despite a three-year hiatus, the all-too-brief foray into the mind of Gorgoroth on AD MAJOREM SATHANAS GLORIAM concludes after barely half an hour. Black, cold, pissed-off, imposing and without running a risk of over-staying their welcome, Gorgoroth succeeds in leaving the listener wanting more—a LOT more! Gorgoroth have long lived in the shadow of bands like Immortal, Satyricon, Darkthrone and Emperor—all of whom have released a landmark album in the genre. Finally, Gorgoroth can join the upper ranks of the black metal elite with AD MAJOREM SATHANAS GLORIAM, an uncompromising album that is damn near perfect in every way. String up the Christians, gather the virgins and wrangle the goats for this is the perfect soundtrack to carry the listener into the deepest, darkest depths of Hell.
KILLER KUTS: “Wound Upon Wound,” “God Seed (Twilight of The Idols),” “Sign of An Open Eye,” “White Seed,” “Prosperity and Beauty”