Gorgoroth - Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam - Candlelight Records USA 2006
Running Time: 31:39
Pentagram left me bored, the incessant whir of chordless second-wave black metal not giving me anything much to hope for in future releases. I passed on the next three albums, Infernus playing the central role in a cast of constantly revolving characters with equally menacing alter egos. Not until 2000's Inicipt Satan, though, did our fellow Tolkeinian worshippers achieve the level of consistency and memorability that sets them apart to this day. The lineup from that menacing, ambient/industro-tinged platter remained intact through at least the recording of Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam, and thus…
We begin with "Wound Open", a frenzied gallop proving that Gorgoroth has not only honed their misanthropic howl, but made it pulverizing in the meantime. Frost's (reprising his hired gun role from Pentagram) unmistakeable hammering crashes like a Nordic thunderstorm over raw BM nearly as influenced by Sodom as it is influencing to the legions of new black metallers who still worship at the altar of Pentagram and Antichrist. As if to reiterate their relatively recent acquisition of dynamics, halfway through "Prosperity And Beauty" Infernus' brimstone guitar drags the whole monster down to a scorched earth crawl amid Gaahl's gurgled invocations, his lungs scraped and slung across the walls of oblivion. "Carving A Giant" is much more reminiscent of the Gorgoroth of yore, but still underpinned by over a decade of experience, and the better for it. Think not, though, that this seemingly newfound sense of melody would situate a band such as Gorgoroth comfortably within the Ozzfest lineup. Instead, the skill displayed on "God Seed (Twilight Of The Idols) lurches and lumbers like a ten ton demon, the scathing, ringing guitar tone setting the scene for Gaahl's ritual summonings. There are no breakneck speeds here, no lightning-fast assaults, but "God Seed…" is blistering all the same. "Sign Of An Open Eye" runs the gamut from razored riffs to the rhythm section's sluggish pounding, King ov Hell's swansong being as high an exit note as we could've hoped for. As another testament to the memorability of Ad Majorem… , the main theme of "Untamed Forces" crawls around your head, carving its way into your memory with one of those "I know I've heard this one before but know I couldn't name where at gunpoint." riffs. I'm not sure quite how, but it's at this point in the album - one song from the last - where the production suddenly takes a huge jump in quality. What was distant yet dissonant before is now bristling and venomous, Gaahl employing a guttural growl to bring forth pestilence and plague for "Exit".
Infernus and King do their part also, ravenously demonic speeds tearing up the road to Hell with only the worst of intentions. "White Seed" is a study in ragged, tattered black metal as it as meant to be played, putting the perfect cap on a nice expansion of the form the band has been working at ever since Incipit Satan. Just as scattered and hysteria-inducing as their earlier work when it wants to be, Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam is a bold new step forward for Gorgoroth.