without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
I had initially given this album an 86%. I would listen to it once in a while, and enjoy the songs and put it away. But then, without even noticing it, this album began to get more and more playtime in my stereo. And as I started paying more attention to the songs, I started seeing the true brilliance of this release. And I can't believe that the same band that made this actually were stupid enough to choose Gaahl as their vocalist later in their career. This really epitomizes all the qualities one looks for in a great black metal release and also brings some new elements that you don't usually find into the mix. For example, here and there you'll find a very death metal-sounding riff. And of course, Frost's truly original varieties of blast beats will be EXTREMELY refreshing to a black metal veteran listener.
This album needs to be focused upon a bit when you first hear it to really appreciate it. Although the haunting melodies of songs like Gorgoroth and Heaven's Fall are easy to pick up, you have to listen harder to really hear the mastery of the coordination of two guitars throughout the album, at times through them both playing complementary tremolo-picking riffs, or one guitar backing the other, or alternating for some very interesting interludes. Frost, it seems, won't be caught dead using any typical drumlines. He puts some variety into his blast beats by incorporating the high-hat and also the crash/ride cymbals at times. He creates complex patterns that retain the headbang value of the blast beat but without the redundance. And you've gotta love the Gaahl-less vocals. Pest and Hat put in a great performance with typical black metal raspiness and incorporation of clean vocals in certain places.
Let me put it this way: Imagine the coldest, darkest atmosphere you've ever felt through a black metal song. Then imagine that on top of that the riffs were good, the music was complex and melodic, and it retained its rawness. The low point of the album is the stupid intro, 20 seconds of the "deathbreath of satan". Then it fucking picks up and doesn't stop for a second. You'll get chills down your spine, you'll close your eyes and bask in the power of truly masterful black metal. Song wise, my least favorite is Possessed (By Satan) because it lacks a little bit of melody and atmosphere as compared to the other tracks, although you can headbang your spine to shreds to certain parts of it. Bertgollets Hevn and Heaven's Fall are both masterpieces which words can not do justice to. Sorg is a one-of-a-kind track that you won't hear from any other band, with a funeral march intro and some beautiful riffage. But even these pale in comparison to Gorgoroth. This 6-minute work of art is among the top 10 songs of ANY GENRE ever written. Nothing I've heard in black metal comes close (well, maybe a couple of songs, but this one still takes the cake). The middle of it (the verse) is excellent, but not incredibly special, but the first and the final two minutes (and those unbelievably good clean/harsh vocal switches) are indescribable. You have to hear them to even remotely understand. I could listen to that song for 2 hours straight and not get bored of it, seriously. Even if Gorgoroth release 10 more utterly fecal albums (in the vein of Destroyer and on), I will still revere them for having created this masterpiece. You have not heard black metal until you've heard this one!