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As a fan of Gorgoroth, this album has always annoyed me. It's almost insulting just how bad this album is, an aspect of Gorgoroth that should shame all of the band's fans. I wasn't really going to bother reviewing this, as I didn't feel like this terrible album was even worth the effort, however upon seeing how good reviews this has gotten, I just can't resist.
At this point in time, Gorgoroth was pretty much the property of Gaahl and King ov Hell (one of the most stupid pseudonym I've heard). What did these two fellas give the trusting fans of Gorgoroth, hoping for some good old Norwegian black metal? The most generic, pathetic, and insulting effortless attempt at black metal. It's as if the sole purpose of this album is just to earn some quick money. The song writing is lazy and the riffs are dull, and all the songs blend together into a bland collection of forgettable failures.
The riffs are, for the most part, fast paced, often with a hint of doom. However, they don't work at all. They just come across as incredibly lazy, there's no passion in the song writing, it's like King ov Dull Riffs saw that the Dimmu fellas were getting fame and money, and he wanted to get some of that black metal money as well, the only difference is that it seems as if Dimmu Borgir actually puts some effort into their songs, whilst King just rides of creating generic uninspired riffs that the hard-core kindergarten-Satanists will love. I guess I should actually describe how they are, rather than just making insults: there's a hell of a lot of tremolo picking, and nothing more than that really. The riffs are so god damned forgettable that it's impossible to recall anything after a listen. Actually, I can remember one thing: I was so terribly bored. It's hard to even distinguish the songs, or tell the riffs apart, because they're all basically the same thing: tremolo pick a generic progression or scale really fast with the drums playing some blast beats, and there you have it. I'm actually having some genuine problems describing the riffs, as there's absolutely nothing that stands out, nothing made even a slight impression on me.
Furthermore, the vocals are terrible. His vocals just aren't special in any way, frankly, they're actually quite bad. His vocals sound so forced, and it sounds like he is chocking, and are just overall very weak, as they don't really sound properly rehearsed. He sounds like a chain smoker with a sore throat. Additionally, there's so many effects on his vocals. A part of what makes black metal so special is its rawness and honesty when it comes to albums, and his massive use of effects completely ruins that, and is thusly significantly worse. I don't really understand why the edgelord called Gaahl is so popular and loved. When I realized his vocals are terrible, I thought that the reason people liked him might have been due to his amazing personality and charisma, however the fact of the matter is that Gaahl is a complete cunt; not only did he openly voice his admiration for Hitler whilst calling black people subhuman, (which is edgy as fuck by the way), he actually acts out his dumb beliefs; he's been in jail multiple times for violence. I am aware that this review is starting to become more of a rant than a real review, however please bear with me, as I will describe the overall sound more now that I've gotten all of that out of the way.
The drums are boring, which is a shame, because I actually quite like Frost with Satyricon, however it's like King instructed him to be as unoriginal as possible. There's pretty much only blast beats. And to further the insult, the snare sound is also quite bad, way to flat and dry, not even remotely dynamic. I'm pretty sure even I could write better drums for this, the drum writing is obviously rushed, and I just feel so disappointed that the fellas couldn't even bother with proper drum sound, nor bother having drums that weren't completely dull and unoriginal.
The production is ok. I don't care about production, nor do I really notice it, except if it is exceptionally bad, however this is fine. You can hear most instruments clear, and I have no problems hearing what's being played. The guitar tone is actually quite good, heavily distorted, however not so much so that you can't hear anything. It sounds powerful and heavy, just how a guitar should sound.
I've seen Gaahl getting some credit for writing great lyrics, however I beg to differ. Just take a look at this (from Sign of an Open Eye): ''There is a god in man and in nature. He who sits in the dark, the bringer of light. This beauty, the sign of an open eye. Call him to black flame. Call him, call him to black flame, call him, call him, call him'' This is far from great. Just some pseudo intellectual edgy nonsense. Anyone could write this. It's so vague and meaningless, a pathetic attempt at seeming deep and poetic, a poor copy of Emperor's writing style, the difference being that Emperor's lyrics are actually interesting, and with Emperor, it feels like there's a meaning and a point to the lyrics, however this comes across as lazily written random stuff just to seem deep and smart without really having to write anything insightful or meaningful in any way.
I will give credit where credit is due, however, as the song ''God Seed'' is actually somewhat good. Not incredible, but good. This is the only instance where the attempted doomsday sound actually works, starting with some great riffs, that are atmospheric and dark. However halfway through the song, it goes back to being terrible. Now one song I'd like to talk about in particular, is the song ''Sign of an Open Eye'', which a lot of people give a lot of credit to for being awesome and atmospheric, however in reality, it's a chore to listen to. The lead guitar plays about 3 notes, and is just so boring. I do actually enjoy a lot of simplistic and atmospheric metal, however this song tries way too hard to be atmospheric. It's as if Gorgoroth just finished recording the album, but then King decided they had to have a slow atmospheric song, and so he wrote one in 10 minutes. The riff is not interesting, and it is repeated way too many times. It's clear what kind of song they aspired to write, however they failed miserably. King was so desperate to have his own ''An Excerpt of X'' that he forced this dull song, which is quite out of place by the way, into the already boring album.
To conclude this rant/review, ''Ad Majorem ...'' is boring, uninspired, rushed, dull and uninteresting, with the sole purpose of making money. Why did Infernus allow this to happen? Do not get this album, it's terrible. Apart from the few good riffs on ''God Seed'', there's absolutely nothing even remotely interesting on this album.