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Gorgoroth’s second full length release, Antichrist, is a worthy successor to their masterpiece of a debut, and is commonly viewed as a classic in the Norwegian black metal movement. Despite its short length (only twenty five minutes long), and the fact that it generally displays a more straightforward black metal style, I would argue that Antichrist holds just as much quality material as Gorgoroth’s other classics, namely Pentagram and Under the Sign of Hell.
This is an essential Gorgoroth release for various reasons, some of them being difficult to explain. The sound can be seen as a natural continuation of Pentagram, but manages to sound quite different at the same time. The primitive, signature production has been retained from the debut, yet has been reinterpreted in a slightly clearer way. The atmosphere remains intact, but the instruments are given more of an opportunity to stand out. In addition, the songs are more melodic in nature, yet are still just as blistering as ever (save for the more chaotic moments of Under the Sign of Hell). On the subject of musicianship, Infernus’ song writing is as strong as ever. In fact, I would safely say that the five songs on this album showcase some of his best, most unholy riffs ever.
Opener, Bergtrollets Hevn, showcases a less buzzy approach to the guitars and brings them to the forefront of the mix; allowing Infernus’ mighty thunder to gleam through the snowstorm. This song serves as a good representation for the sound of Antichrist; it’s fast but not neck breaking, melodic but still aggressive, and features excellent performances from each member. The third track, titled Gorgoroth, is a very interesting piece of black metal. Grimly opening with the sound of frigid north winds, the track soon beautifully jumps to life with chilling tremolo riffing that carries on and develops for over a minute. Pest’s hateful shrieks inject the track with a violent edge, and he even utilizes some excellent melancholic clean yearnings, also present on the closer. Possessed (by Satan) brings forth the catchiest riffs on the album with a thrashiness that reminds me of early Celtic Frost or Bathory. Heavens Fall is a fairly fast instrumental which displays some great melodies partway in. Sorg is a personal favourite of mine and is a truly crushing way to close this dark chapter of Gorgoroth’s career. A burst of thunder marks the beginning of the storm and the church bells warn of the oncoming attack. But it is too late. A slow-paced, crushing, doom-ish riff carries this atmospheric track, inducing bleak images of frozen Norwegian landscapes. Pest tops of this dark number off with more of his emotional wailing. Everything about this track just drips with the one most evil atmospheres this band has yet to create.
To solidify this album as a classic, Frost (fan boy alert) gives an outstanding drum performance, certainly on par with his work on the early Satyricon albums. The drum production is excellent, his blastbeats are fierce, and overall he offers a tight foundation for the rest of the instruments. This is the last album to feature Hat on vocals, and the first to feature Pest, both of whom share vocal duties on this release. Hat sounds similar to his work on Pentagram, although he seems a bit more coherent, possibly only due to the production. Pest gives a sickeningly evil performance, although I would say his finest work is on the following Gorgoroth album.
When all is said and done, I wouldn’t have this album any other way. With its short length, there certainly isn’t time for any filler. Just the Gorgoroth promise: no-bullshit, Christian hating, true Norwegian black metal from start to finish. If you’re a black metal fan and this isn’t already part of your collection, I recommend adding it immediately.