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An equal to the first - 95%

Noktorn, February 5th, 2008

My opinion of Gorgoroth's first album is that it's essentially unbeatable perfection, but having acquired 'Antichrist', I have to say that their sophomore release honestly gives that seminal debut a legitimate run for its money. The second release doesn't have quite the uniquely maverick spirit of the first, as it's in a decidedly more 'conventional' black metal style as far as riffing and general aesthetic goes, but the songwriting is some of the strongest in Gorgoroth's musical history, and it does again prove that the band is capable of compositions more traditionally erudite than they normally let on. It's probably Gorgoroth's most melodic album, but it lacks none of their trademark savagery.

At twenty five minutes long, 'Antichrist' is refreshingly devoid of filler (well, you can argue that the intro is unnecessary). Each one of the tracks on this album is essential, and it could be said that this has a greater ration of truly excellent material than that on 'Pentagram'. Much of the music here is rather odd in the context of Gorgoroth's greater catalog; it's much more melodic and epic than on any other release. It is still uniquely Gorgoroth though, with a concrete style that can't really be altered by any mere change in delivery. Instrumentation and production is clearer than before, though it still has that exquisitely black Gorgoroth sound; all the playing is more professional and the writing actually seems engineered to allow the performances full reign.

'Gorgoroth' is the clear centerpiece of the album, with its crystalline tremolo riffing of incredible grandeur along with a fantastic vocal performance by new vocalist Pest (including some surprisingly emotive and dramatic clean vocals). But there are other tracks that are nearly as great: 'Bergtrollets Hevn' is extremely underrated and powerful, as is 'Possessed (By Satan)' which is probably ignored as it's much more in the vein of 'Pentagram'-era material. None of the track are weak at all, though. 'Sorg' is the slowest and most melancholy of the tracks on the album, making a good closing change of pace from the uptempo material that defines this LP, and 'Heavens Fall' is a sort of reprisal of the opening track, with subtly epic yet still blackened music ripping through your speakers with a collection of excellent riffing and strong, narrative structure.

Contentwise, this is admittedly a bit thin; I was fortunate enough to grab it for $6, but chances are you'll be paying in the double digits for this. However, I'd say that, within reason, this is an excellent purchase at any price. 'Antichrist' has some of the best music that Gorgoroth has ever turned out, in a style that is different from their typical yet unmistakably in their style. There's little to say about an album of this quality, however brief it may be. For any black metal fan, it is a mandatory album to acquire, end of discussion.