Released: 2008, Metal Mind Productions
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
In terms of black metal ideology and conveying it through their music and personal lives, Gorgoroth seems like the real deal. Some bands seem cartoonish and over-the-top in their attempts at being “kvlt” but the string of lawsuits and hard time done by various members of the Norwegian band puts to rest any notion that they are “poseurs.” Case in point: Gorgoroth’s February 1, 2004 performance in Krakow, Poland that saw the band charged with religious offenses and the promoter facing possible jail time and heavy fines. While this may seem extreme, Poland is heavily rooted in the Catholic church and Gorgoroth are die-hard anti-Christians, so the opportunity for conflict was already in place prior to the band festooning the stage with severed sheep’s heads, galloons of blood, pentagrams and several nude models that were hung on crosses feigning crucifixion. The band fled the country with warrants out for their arrest, their record label at the time reportedly dropping them under the controversy and the concert footage seized by authorities as evidence.
After four years in limbo and the exoneration of the band on all charges, Metal Mind Productions has finally released the legendary gig under the title, BLACK MASS KRAKOW 2004 and it is a doozy! To say this is a spectacle is an understatement. Besides the aforementioned stage carnage, the band is simply on fire. Gaahl is just plain creepy. Howling and wailing like a wounded animal, his piercing stare from behind the corpsepaint is bone-chilling as he stalks the stage, slowly eyeing up his prey. Bassist King ov Hell and Infernus, the band’s sole remaining original member, rip away at their buzzing guitars while constantly headbanging throughout the one-hour set. Even Kvitrafn, his performance immortalized with a drum-mounted camera, keeps up with the blasting inferno dictated by Gorgoroth’s musical slaughter. “Odeleggelse og Undergang” from 1997’s UNDER THE SIGN OF HELL is absolutely brilliant raw, intense black metal. Even with the band’s minimalist songwriting approach, “Possessed (By Satan),” “Profetens Apenbaring,” “Blood Stains The Circle” and “Destroyer” crackle with electricity on stage and rise in power with the added visuals. This is truly performance art in it’s most primal and depraved state.
Besides the Krakow show, there are a pair of bootleg-quality clips from the band’s set at Germany’s With Full Force Festival in 2000 that are unnecessary but are worth watching nonetheless. What would have been interesting is an interview with the band before or after the gig as many Metal Mind DVDs do, but none are included here. The usual biography, discography and photo gallery round out the extra features.
Just recently, Gorgoroth has splintered into two factions with Infernus heading in one direction and Gaahl and King ov Hell touting the other as the “true” Gorgoroth. Whichever side ends up with the rights to the name is in the court’s hands but this performance is a landmark moment in time for heavy metal and the band. To this day, no band has captured the very essence of black metal on film as well as Gorgoroth has done on the BLACK MASS KRAKOW 2004 DVD and any fan of the genre or the band itself will be hard-pressed to find fault with this package.