Released: 2010, Indie Recordings
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
Let’s cut to the chase with this one kids - with the pedigree of musicians that participated in of Ov Hell’s THE UNDERWORLD REGIME, there’s no reason why this album shouldn’t have been an easy winner. But it’s not. In fact, it’s boring, derivative, and quite frankly, disappointing.
Let’s begin with a little black metal history lesson first. King Ov Hell (get it? The band is Ov Hell?) used to play bass in Gorgoroth. But King and then bandmate Gaahl got involved in a legal spat with guitarist Infernus over the rights to perform under the Gorgoroth moniker. King and Gaahl lost their day in court, split from the band, and resurfaced as God Seed. Then Gaahl decided that he’d rather spend his time designing dresses with his fashionista boyfriend and left King holding the bag. So King has a whole bunch of songs written for what was supposed to be God Seed’s debut and no one to play with. King has an “a ha!” moment, enlists Dimmu Borgir frontman Shagrath to write some lyrics and sing on what would essentially become his solo album, and rounds out the recording lineup with drummer Frost (Satyricon) and guitarists Teloch (ex-Gorgoroth) and Ice Dale (Enslaved). THE UNDERWORLD REGIME is then released under the name Ov Hell, and promptly disappoints the masses.
There’s nothing on THE UNDERWORLD REGIME that differentiates Ov Hell from the infinite number of other bands in the genre. Most of the tunes come off as a grittier second rate Dimmu Borgir (and that’s saying something). Shagrath’s flat, uninflected scowls have never been anything to write home about, but he’s completely phoning it in here, and unfortunately Teloch, Ice Dale, and Frost are left to contend with the material they’ve been provided with. The waste of talent here reaches epic proportions. Rather than try to come up with something different or engaging, you’re left with samples of naughty ladies saying dirty things under the influence of Satan, spooky sounds, the pseudo melodic harmonies on top of diminished guitar chords, wash, rinse, repeat…
The songs themselves sound like they could have been written by any one of the second-rate clones that Dimmu and Gorgoroth regrettably inspired. And that’s what hurts the most – at its core, THE UNDERWORLD REGIME isn’t a “bad” album, but it’s not a “good” one either. If it didn’t have the names King Ov Hell or Shagrath attached to it, would anybody care? Draw your own conclusions.
There will be plenty of Hot Topic fanboys (and fangirls) who will find this album particularly “eeeevvillll,” or “kvlt” and as a result will light some candles, paint their nails black, and will be inspired to write some really deep poetry. For everyone else who’s not living in their mom’s basement, save your money and your self-respect. If you haven’t already done so, go pick up a copy of Gorgoroth’s superb 2009 release, QUANTOS POSSUNT AD SATANITEM TRAHUNT, and leave Ov Hell in the abyss.