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Gorgoroth - Black Mass Krakow - 80%

Witchfvcker, April 25th, 2014

Gorgoroth have always been the subject of controversies, and it came as no surprise that their concert in Krakow the 1stof February 2004 went down in black metal history when the band were convicted of blasphemy in the pope’s own city. It doesn't really matter if you see the band as an extremely gimmicky marketing-machine or as dedicated to a greater cause, the point still stands that Gaahl and Infernus are masters of provocation and of shrouding themselves in mystery. It also probably won’t be a shock to anyone that the recordings of the infamous show (that was somehow recovered from the Polish police) is filled with sheep heads on spikes, naked crucified models, and an abundance of other sacrilegious imagery. In other words, Black Mass Krakow is everything the dedicated black metal acolyte could ever dream of, and captures the essence of the ritual that is a Gorgoroth performance perfectly.

Instead of cruising along on the blastwave of their newest release, Gorgoroth have always been good at balancing their live sets with material from most of their catalogue. Luckily the Krakow set is no exception, as they pull out old favorites like “Possessed (By Satan)” and “Bergtrollets Hevn” from Antichrist and five tracks from Under The Sign Of Hell, as well as the more recent “Procreating Satan” and “Of Ice And Movement”. For some reason they keep leaving out their debut full-length Pentagram from their sets, which is unfortunate seeing as it would be great to hear “Katharinas Bortgang“ or “Måneskyggens Slave“ dressed up in a live coat. Still, there is something here for everyone, even though the 55-minutes long set could have been extended to two hours of crushing antichristian black metal.

The main exhibit of a Gorgoroth show will for many be Gaahl, and even if you hate the man it’s hard to deny that he’s quite a unique character. While other vocalists are usually busy headbanging or making gestures at the audience when they're not screaming into the microphone, Gaahl stands totally still and stares into the empty air. Even though it can be entertaining to see someone like Bruce Dickinson running around on stage and encouraging his myriads of fans to sing along, there is undoubtedly something far more powerful and disturbing about seeing this tall corpsepainted figure observing his flock of sheep with a mix of disgust and maliciousness, and he must be the only frontman in metal who’s capable of dominating an entire venue using only with his cold stare. Meanwhile Infernus and King are giving their everything, while hired hands Apollyon and Kvitrafn stays in the background.

The most appealing part of Black Mass Krakow is how surprisingly professional everything is, especially when compared to many other recorded black metal concerts. The stage crew haven't been holding back on anything, including the aforementioned sheep-heads and crucified people, but also a blistering pyro-show, which takes a turn for the unintentionally comical when sparks come flying like it’s the 4th of July. The sound and camera set-up is impressive, and allows you to see and hear everything going on at the stage clearly at all times. Unfortunately the same can't be said for the extra-material, which consists of a measly two bootlegged videos from a Leipzig show, filmed from the back of the audience with a cheap camera, and both of the songs (“Destroyer” and “Incipit Satan”) are also part of the main feature. Coupled with the rather short running time and the fact that the rest of the bonus material consists of things like biographies and a discography, both of which can be read for free at the band’s website, the release of this DVD feels rushed and not worth the price-tag of a full DVD. That’s a damn shame too, since if this was fleshed out with more content I would easily have given Black Mass Krakow a 9/10 score, but the excellent footage doesn’t quite make up for the disappointing lack of content.

In closing it should be said that this is a fantastic capture of the raw emotion in a Gorgoroth gig, and is a treat for anyone who haven’t seen them live, or for those who have and want to re-live the experience. Just make sure it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, since you’re going to feel cheated when you discover that you’ve seen everything on the disc after about 70 minutes.


Written for The Metal Observer

Extreme, controversial, only a couple weak links - 85%

chaoticadversary, May 27th, 2013

It goes without saying that fans of Gorgoroth either have already seen this, or they should. This is the highly controversial live performance Gorgoroth did in Poland in 2004, which led to some legal troubles with the Polish government and their obscenity laws. And yes, it is certainly an obscene show, but what else were you expecting? The stage is populated by impaled sheep heads and nude men and women on mock crucifixes. The opening of the show really sets the tone, inviting the viewer in with the last few minutes of the track "Of Ice and Movement," a stirring piece of haunting instrumentation. The show then kicks off with "Procreating Satan," which is perfect for an opener. It's high energy, intense, and really gets your blood pumping, even if you're just sitting in your living room enjoying the DVD on your laptop. From there, the show is nonstop intensity, extremely fine work by all the band members, superb lighting, and fine direction.

If there's a weak link here, I think it's Gaahl. I was expecting some more energy and enthusiasm out of his performance, but he tends to just calmly walk about the stage and scream (very well) into the mic on cue. His live voice is also not as rousing and thrashed as his studio voice. He is, unfortunately, just as dour and serene on stage as he is in interviews. I would have preferred more of a Hoest performance, with headbanging and energy, but you just don't get that with Gaahl.

Fortunately the other band members carry the slack left by Gaahl. I have always been a huge lover of Infernus's guitar work, and he really brings his A-game to this performance. He blasts an amazing solo during the "Unchain My Heart" track that is positively incredible. That moment alone is worth the price of admission. My one complaint on the other band members has more to do with the direction. While the director of the show does a great job overall, I can't help but feel that a bit too much time was spent on Gaahl and wide shots of the whole stage, and not enough time giving the other band members a moment in the spotlight. With the fantastic corpsepaint and stage presence of Infernus, King ov Hell, Apollyon, and Kvitrafn, I would have liked to have seen a few closer shots of them to really appreciate their talents. But in general, the direction and photography is great.

Overall, Gorgoroth fans would be crazy not to pick this up. They will definitely love seeing them perform live, even if the other band members have to make up for Gaahl's overly relaxed disposition. The music is fantastic, the show is atmospheric and well staged, and the director did a mostly good job of capturing the event. Highly recommended for Gorgoroth fans, and I think a fair number of black metal fans in general will also dig it.

Controversial DVD; black metal feast - 70%

dismember_marcin, July 29th, 2011

Is there anyone interested in black or death metal who hasn't heard about Gorgoroth and all the trouble they had with their gig in Kraków, Poland in 2004? Well, annoyingly religious as this country is, I think Gorgoroth couldn't choose a better place to perform a live ritual like this one (maybe only Vatican could be a better place to do that?). A black mass; Polish media were in extasy, having such a material to discuss and radical catholic politics also used the band as an example for depraved metal fans and pretext to forbid metal gigs, etc. They found something called "offense of religious feelings" and even "animal rights protection" laws... Man, fuckin' circus was going on but those, who knew the subject well, have laughed on how stupid and pointless all this discussion and people are. In all this crap they forgot about two things: one being freedom of will and belief and two, if you don't like what you see, just fuckin leave the club, no one forces you to stay and watch Gorgoroth.

Anyway, there were a lot of problems with releasing this DVD, but finally Metal Mind managed to put it out, four years after the gig took place. Was it worth waiting? Definitely yes. I think that every fan of black metal and Gorgoroth especially must feel a real ecstasy while watching this concert. And if you ask from the start, is there really so much controversy as these fuckin enemies were saying? I don't really think so. Few people, naked, hanging on the crosses don't impress me, but the idea is brilliant. Pity that one "crucified" girl lost conscience on the third song already and the other one also disappeared during the gig. There are also tons of decapitated lambs' heads around the stage, barbwires, pentagrams, torches... Everything creates great, satanic atmosphere, but controversy? Well, I guess we metalheads are already used to all that he, he.

As for the live performance of Gorgoroth, as this is what's the most important here, well the band played quite good gig. It's about an hour long and based on band's whole discography, but with the main focus on "Under the Sign of Hell" and "Twilight of the Idols" albums (and with only one song from "Destroyer" for instance). I must say that all the live footages of Gorgoroth (bootlegs mostly) that I've watched earlier always showed a band, which didn't seem to be comfortable on the stage and quite often really sucked, not being even close to capture the essence of their albums. Luckily here everything seems to work fine for them. The section plays tight as hell, both guitarist also (Apollyon from Aura Noir performs a guest appearance on that gig), even if they had some mistakes here and there, who cares? It all goes well, the sound is also fantastic, so it's a real pleasure to watch / listen to this gig.

The biggest pain in the ass is Gaahl, I think. The guy seems to be so lifeless and like he wasn't present with his spirit. Forget about being a good frontman, about introductions to the songs (only once he was able to say a title of the next song!) or whatever. He's very serious, doesn't smile, doesn't react in any way on what's going on in the club, only walks around the stage concentrating on his vocals and raising the horns. It's really weird, I must say. Also I can't say I really like his vocal performance that much. I've never been huge fan of Gaahl's voice, but I'm able to tolerate him on the albums. But in the live situation he shrieks like possessed, he probably also uses effects on his vocals, what annoys me even more. But despite that, I think Gorgoroth delivered a good show. They've played some of my favourite songs, I miss only some songs from "Antichrist" LP ("Gorgoroth", "Sorg"), but at least they've played all those great tracks from "Under the Sign of Hell" and that's good.

Very disappointing part of this DVD is its bonus section. If you think how reach was it on the Carpathian Forest DVD, which was recorded the same day, then the impression of dissatisfaction is even bigger. This DVD has just two bootleg videos from With Full Force festival (2000) and biography, discography, photos... BORING!!! It's a shame there's no interview, which would for example resume all the things that were going on around this gig and also which would talk about the history of the band... Better bonus videos would also be appreciated. Instead we just get this poor, limited crap that isn't even worth to watch.

But anyway, I think this is one of the best black metal DVDs I've happened to watch. Not many bands were able to create such a devastating and satanic show, not many even dare to record a DVD. This one is very professional, with great camera work and sound quality, so it's even better that the band didn't decide to release some bootleged shit like other bands sometimes do. And the controversy? Well, it's always nice to see fear in the terrified eyes of the christian scum, right?

Impressive… most impressive - 95%

nibblemark, March 8th, 2009

Although I’ve been a metal fan for a long long time, black metal is something fairly new to me. There was a time when the mere thought of bands like Darkthrone, Mayhem or Satyricon would make me laugh, vomit and laugh again. It was only about five years ago that I became interested in the Norwegian masters of the second wave. Once I understood what it was about and what it tapped into, it possessed me (well, my wallet anyway) and I went on a shopping spree. Of course, Gorgoroth is an essential part of my madness. These naughty Norsemen are currently the most controversial band on the Norwegian scene. Personally I don’t give a demon’s dick.

My only question is – will I enjoy this DVD? Happily the answer is a resounding yes. Hail!

Let’s face it, many black metal DVDs suck rhinoceros balls. They are totally worthless. Quality is garbage and often the band just shows how bad they are at actually playing live. Yeah yeah, I get the part about the magic of bad production value giving that special atmosphere, that feeling, that emotion… I totally get it, that’s why I love this music so much. But copping someone’s bootleg or getting your drunken cousin to record you from the back of a room on his cell phone, and then trying to make money by passing it off as cult necro art… Right. A steaming pile of horseshit is more like it. If that’s your thing, then go to your room and masturbate with your Immortal DVD, cuz you won’t like this one. But if you dig a great stage show, a tight band, a great live sound, a professional mix and great camera angles, and some brutal metal, then you MUST get this DVD.

Gorgoroth are the sonic equivalent of the meat they have in their stage show: heavy, wet and raw. The addition of a second guitarist, Apollyon, rounds out their sound perfectly. He and Infernus sound awesome together. Kvitrafn (gesundheit…) is sufficiently solid on drums, and hey! Guess what? We can actually hear King’s bass. As for Gaahl, well, when he’s off he’s laughable (try to get past the half-hearted squeal he starts the show with), but when he’s on, which is the vast majority of the time, he is very effective in robbing you of a good night’s sleep. He looks about eight feet tall, gaunt like a corpse, and he walks around calmly, like a caged animal, eyes wild and insane, pacing back and forth, waiting for a weakness in the lock on his cage door so he can unleash his full fury.

I love the pure sonic power the band achieves on the Bathory-influenced “Possessed by Satan”, the thrashy “The Rite of Infernal Invocation”, and “Revelation of Doom”, which is an all-time favourite of mine. I was also curious to see if Gaahl could pull off the vocal part to the more classically influenced “Profetens Åpenbaring” which he does so-so, but in the end he does whatever he wants with it. Like it or bleed.

Naked people, sheep heads on poles (Polish poles hehe), various bloody goop, pentagrams (surprise), barb wire fences, controlled ritual chaos and sonic splendour. What’s not to love???

The last times of a once hellish union... - 80%

Asamaniac, October 15th, 2008

Some days ago I had my birthday and Metal Mind Productions probably knew it since they sent the brand new GORGOROTH DVD to the Metal Temple HQ. I was waiting for some years to be able to witness the specific performance, since I knew that there was no way someone could prevent such a legendary show to be put out on a DVD. As the band said, it was going to be an amazing show with lots of pyro, gallons of blood, live crucifixion and nude models. I think that they kept their promise.

The Norwegian blacksters are definitely a huge chapter in the Black Metal history. They have pushed the genre one step forward with legendary releases like the 1993 demo "A Sorcery Written In Blood", their 1994 debut album "Pentagram" and many more. Unfortunately I lost some of my faith in this band due to the recent tragic events with Gaahl and Infernus having a public war, but that’s another thing and I believe that I should stick to this DVD release and forget everything else. After all many people seem to have forgotten that Black Metal used to be an ideology and not just music...

Sometime in 2004, GORGOROTH performed live in Krakow, Poland, and they promised that they would deliver a hell of an extreme show. That was something that annoyed the Polish authorities, which resulted in the band being investigated for the possible breach of Article 196 of Polish penal code concerning offense of religious feelings, as well as breaching a law concerning the protection of animal rights.

Four years after the legendary gig, the show is finally put out on DVD and the band is probably more than happy about it. So, Metal Mind Productions offers one more high quality DVD release with incredible audio and video quality. There has also been a great work on the cameras, since the views you get are fucking awesome (to say the least). The most important thing in this DVD is of course GORGOROTH’s performance and the Norwegian cult metallers will definitely not disappoint you. The band set the stage on fire (literally) and delivers a hell of a nice show. Each member is accurate like a Swiss clock and every song sounds amazing. King Ov Hell and Kvitrafn make a solid as a rock rhythm section and Infernus is the classic axeman that spits his poisonous riffing on stage while he bangs his head like a maniac. What about Gaahl? Do you need any comments for the man that has been the body and spirit of GORGOROTH for the last 10 years? This man is a real beast on stage and he doesn’t even have to run around like a maniac to ’transmit’ his live dynamic to the audience. A frontman that doesn’t have to earn our respect, he already has it.

About the bonus video, do not expect many things since it’s bootleg quality. The audio and video quality is low, but the good thing is that the band seems a bit more passionate.

The reason why I won’t keep on praising the band and this extreme gig (something that Black Metal needs in order to wake up from its sleep) is everything that has happened in the GORGOROTH camp recently. Just to see how funny this situation is, the DVD mentions www.gorgoroth.org as the official website, but the site doesn’t mention this release (nor the Regain Records live album that was recently released). The release is mentioned in www.gorgoroth.info, which is the Infernus version. I have really started getting tired with this band.

Originally written for Metal-Temple.Com
Yiannis D.