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Gorgoroth is currently one of the greatest still-active bands from the early Norwegian scene. A bunch of people today get their start in black metal by listening to songs like Carving and Giant and Unchain My Heart, which aren't bad, but Gorgoroth's really shining moments come from its earlier albums. "A Sorcery Written in Blood" is the prelude to future masterpieces, and it's worth listening to for historical value alone. You can really hear the first members of the band getting their ideas together in preparation for the wonderful "Pentagram" album, Gorgoroth's first true release.
With that said, ASWiB isn't very good. Two of the songs are ultra-raw cuts of pieces that make it onto Pentagram, but the latter versions are better. These are just unfinished and little more than rehearsals. The composition is sound, but the guitar work could be a little bit tighter and the vocals are difficult for me to grade. On the one hand, Hat is somehow even more chilling and evil in ASWiB than he is in Pentagram. On the other hand, he doesn't scream as long or as loudly, nor does he produce many of the banshee-like rasps that he does in Penagram.
The exception is Gathered at Blåkulla, which is the one unique ASWiB has. This really is the introduction to Gorgoroth. It's a dark ambient perversion of ice-cold hatred, misanthropy, amp feedback, slight bass work, minimalist percussion to keep the beat, and Hat screaming his head off while another vocalist responds to his cries. The troops are now at attention, and after training in the two songs that follow, they fight for the glory of Satan in Pentagram.
Overall, ASWiB is worth downloading and listening to as a prelude to Pentagram. I have managed to pick up a copy that a guy got from Hat himself, before the man dropped off the face of the planet, but unless you're a true, uncompromising fan of the Norwegian black metal scene, stick to MP3s. This demo is worth listening to, but it's not a masterpiece. Not yet.
Gorgoroth's first demo, A Sorcery Written in Blood, is an absolutely savage and primitive piece of Norwegian black metal. Released in early 1993, this features two songs that would later appear on the band's debut full-length, Pentagram, yet these versions possess a completely different atmosphere. With this recording, you can almost smell the rotting blood that stains the altar of Gorgoroth.
Other than the chaotic and hellish intro, "Gathered at Blåkulla", this demo features only two songs, both of which were re-recorded for the first album. "Sexual Bloodgargling" is an earlier version of "Ritual", just with a worse title. This is joined by "(Under) the Pagan Megalith". Structurally, both songs are the same as the L.P. versions. As far as the songwriting goes, they were already in a completed form by 1993. However, as a result of the production and the execution, to some extent, this older recording sounds much more raw and hateful.
The first thing to mention has to be the vocals. Hat's vocal approach on this demo is nothing like the sound he would later adopt and is more reminiscent of Varg's work on the early Burzum albums, being more of a shriek. That said, the tone is less anguished than it is just utterly consumed with pure, cold hatred. The first time that I heard this, the vocals seemed like the real weak point of the demo. Nevertheless, after a few listens, it became clear that this much more primal sound suits the manner in which the music is presented, here.
The production is not the best, with some volume issues and the common problem of the drums being too loud in the mix, compared to the guitars. Still, somehow, the rougher production gives the music even more of an old school feel. In particular, "(Under) the Pagan Megalith" features some thrash parts, as well as riffs obviously inspired by Celtic Frost, near the end. The shoddy sound of this demo actually works well to accentuate this old school atmosphere moreso than on the full-length.
The playing does not seem to be as smooth as on Pentagram, at times, but this does not have a detrimental effect. It works in unison with the rough production and Hat's inhuman shrieking, creating a primitive atmosphere that is much uglier than what the band would go on to do. In some cases, when demo tracks are re-recorded for an album, in basically the same form, there is no need to hear the originals. That is not the case with A Sorcery Written in Blood. This demo is mandatory for any Gorgoroth fan and should be in the collection of anyone into Norwegian black metal.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
I'm going to be quick about this one. The only real sensible way you can get the two Gorgoroth demos is the way I got them: by downloading them. And for that reason this is worth a listen. But at the same time it really isn't. The only song on here that doesn't see the light of day again is the intro. And though it's admittedly a great intro, with building dissonant guitars and the gurgling snarls of the hilariously named 'Hat', it’s still just an intro. And no one is really going to miss it.
The next song is Ritual with a stupid but funny title. It seems to be basically exactly the same as on Pentagram but with a pretty thin production. And it's the same deal with Under the Pagan Megalith. A fucking fantastic song, but now that I have Pentagram; I will NEVER listen to this version again. It's the same song, with the same vocalist, but with a worse production. Now, if I saw this demo tape in a record store, I would still buy it, but purely for collector’s value.
But, if you are one of those fans who like their music as under produced as possible, and there’s nothing wrong with that, this may be right up your alley. These are two awesomely written. heavy as hell black metal songs, just made a bit redundant by the subsequent versions on Pentagram. Either way, if you don't have Pentagram yet, this and the Promo demo are worth the download. But really, you’re better off just ordering Pentagram. That album is AWESOME.
For great songs with greater follow ups, A Sorcery Written in Blood gets a 55 out of 100 or a 3 out of 5.
This is Gorgoroth’s first recording, their first demo, which can be easily described as flesh-reaping black metal. The music is harsh, raw and brutal, everything that you can expect from Gorgoroth, but more primitive. The quality of the demo is better than the rest of the other demos that circulated the scene during that time, but still not flawless.
The demo begins with “Gathering at Blåkulla (Intro)”. Since Blåkulla is a place in Sweden where witches gathered in the past, you can only imagine that this intro is obscure and bizarre. The vocalist, Hat, growls something indistinguishable (does not seem like lyrics, but some growl improvisations) while the guitar “tortures” the listener with feedback from the amp and the drums are pumping on the bass drum in what it would seem as an extension to the “torture”. The intro gives an overview of what the listener should be prepared to listen to the next 7 or so minutes; a pure, raw, harsh, piercing recording and all those people who like melodic stuff should stay away from it. “(Under) The Pagan Megalith” is one of my favorite songs on this recording, it has variation, switching from fast to slow. Also the drums are varying which is good sometimes when you don’t always want to hear blastbeats in the entire song. The structure of both songs is well thought, but the lack of good quality makes it harder to enjoy them.
Another plus here is the artwork who is really good, although minimalist and primitive. The demo features one of the best demo covers I’ve ever seen. The lack of good quality does not stop me from enjoying a recording. I am a big fan of bootlegs and old demos, however crappy they sound (but there is a limit to how crappy the quality of a demo can be), but that could create some problems for those who like crystal-clear productions. In that case perhaps this demo is nothing that you can enjoy of, so stay away from it. The others, who hunger for raw and harsh recordings, dig in!
Gorgoroth's first and only demo, "A Sorcery Written In Blood", serves as a reliable document to prove how this band has stayed true to its roots. Listening to any of the band's future album releases (especially the first three, but "Destroyer" could also fit) it's amazing to discover that, a year before the release of the debut, the Gorgoroth sound was already there in its entirety. You just have to compare these early versions to those who would later appear on the "Pentagram" album to discover it.
This demo was recorded by the band's original line-up consisting of Infernus on guitar, Hat on vocals and Goat Pervertor on drums, plus a bassist named Kjettar that only appeared on this release (not a big deal since his playing doesn't really stand out in any way) and would be replaced by Emperor's Samoth on the first album.
The sound is amazingly good for a demo; the overall feeling is that of a rehearsal but everything comes out rather clear. The guitar has its own share of static but is suprisingly thick, the drums are a bit lacking in tone but are very audible in their entirety - and believe me, this is a real rarity for a demo of this kind - and the vocals (not as Donald Duck-ish as on "Pentagram" but still pretty shrill) are loud and powerful... heck, we even get hints of the bass at times, although being slightly distorted it ends up being a single entity with the guitar most of the time.
The demo opens with an intro named "Gathered at Blåkulla", which is basically a minute and twnty seconds of incoherent screaming backed by sparse percussion and feedback noises; someones is actually performing backing vocals (if we can call them that way), although we don't know who he is.
Then we find "Sexual Bloodgargling", which is NOT an unreleased song but an early version of "Ritual"; it could possibly have dfferent lyrics but since they have never been officially printed I challenge anyone to figure them out (both here and on the "Pentagram" album), and it's also interesting to note that near the end of "Gathered at Blåkulla" we can hear the word "ritual" being repeatedly screamed rather clearly. Musically, however, the song has never changed from this phase: it begins pretty fast but then slows down for a rather ominous riff, then it picks up again and goes into a more plodding section backed by nice double bass drumming and a good melodic guitar line (you can hear it better than on the album here actually, because of the absence of a second guitar). Definitely a great choice to show the band's potential.
"(Under) the Pagan Megalith" finishes the demo, and once more it's the same song we will hear on the debut; this song keeps a faster pace most of the time, and even incorprates a nice Thrash break that definitely pushes up the variety meter quite a bit. A slower but no less powerful part finishes the song, and the slightly processed vocals that come in this are the only hint of any studio work on the recording, otherwise I could have believed it to be a very good rehearsal tape.
As I said, if you heard these songs on "Pentagram" you basically heard this demo (apart from the intro, but I can't really rate it as essential), as this is basically the same songs with a rawer and less polished sound - yes, I know band's like Gorgoroth never go for that 36 track studio sound, but "Pentagram" has a great drive anyway. If you really are into this band, you can try to find mp3's of it or even get the recent 7" bootleg reissue, but don't pay ridiculously high prices for this - there are better underground rarities to hunt down, honestly. Everyone else can move on to the "Pentagram" album right away.