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The magic of the Norwegian black metal awakening faded pretty fast. This was due mainly to albums such as "Destroyer...". It manifested the downward movement of Gorgoroth, because a certain lack of ideas could not be ignored. To make things even worse, some of the here presented ideas did not work. For example, "Open the Gates" was actually a more or less decent mid-tempo number. The only problem was that the band tried to enrich it with a short woeful vocal line. The fifth track suffered by a similar defect while offering partially hymnal vocals. No big deal, but completely superfluous. Nevertheless, "Open the Gates" marked the first tune which was worth listening. By contrast, the noisy opener failed to develop the power of its solid main riff while setting the focus on vehemence. Yet this approach revealed a wrong understanding of black metal. Even one of the most radical sub genres needs a well balanced mix of brutality and melody, but the stupid hammering of the opener did not pay tribute to this matter of course.
The album was equipped with a crude sound which did not enhance the joy of listening. In other words, the fact that the record was released by Nuclear Blast did not play a major role. The muddy guitar sound lacked of power. It was therefore not able to generate the necessary intensity. Aggravating this situation, the band seemed to be interested in creating some industrial noise. The corresponding piece ("Blodoffer") left the paths of black metal without having a clearly defined new destination. I respected their decision to seek new possibilities. But generally speaking, it is a tough challenge to convince a conservative metalhead of a new approach while struggling with a sloppy production. It was therefore particularly regrettable that the album neither had a good black metal sound nor a good sound at all. The mediocrity of the mix also applied to the vocals. Each and every performance of the different lead singers suffered from an overdose of technical aids. The consequence was the total absence of any form of charisma - and this statement applied not only to the hateful nagging of the vocalists, but to the entire mix at all. Inter alia due to the shortcomings of the production, the Darkthrone cover appeared as a weak and crippled creature. I was really surprised that the band was capable to kill the power of a track of "Transylvanian Hunger" completely.
Nevertheless, the main problem of "Destroyer..." was constituted by its inconsistent compositions. "Om kristen og jødisk tru", for instance, offered a strong beginning with furious and comparatively dramatic guitars. But an almost meditative, slow-moving part after 48 seconds was the first harbinger of further tranquil parts and the solo also failed to set positive accents. This was less a song than a gathering of musical fragments. Contrariwise, "The Virginborn" marked the most consistent song. Too bad, that its consistency was based on the idealess formula of the song. The slowly creeping piece failed to present gripping riffs or anything else that would have justified its length of more than eight minutes. Under the bottom line, this tune was nothing else but a sonic tranquilizer with a success rate of 100%. But in the end, it did not matter, because it was just the last nail in the coffin of a below-average album.
I'm not always against bands going very popular and I don't bash them for that single reason, still I have come to mind that Destroyer, Or How to Philosophize with the Hammer is one of the weakest moments in Gorgoroth's carreer, shattering it's potential and the possible status it should have achieved. Signing to Nuclear Blast was a first questionable deed, since they are suspected for eating artirts from the inside, even though the name of Gorgoroth had already been promoted a lot by various popular sources. After several listens, I don't know if it's as bad as Under the Sign of Hell but it undulates around that rank, without reaching very high in my interest meter, so I consider it a letdown.
A major drawback of the album is it's poor production, which characterizes it's weakness to deliver, even when the music goes through some notable moments. It creates a sterile and puzzling sound that doesn't have a healthy balance between the vocals and the instrumentation, as well as the extra keys that have been added in various tracks, which are completely buried or just glitches in seconds. Sometimes, the random growls and fast cymbal hits don't make the guitar lines recognizable at all, resulting in a black metal / noise, dreary travesty, ruining completely the outcome. This can be mistaken as a choice, something done on purpose, a message from the band of it's obscure attitude and unearthly sound, but not all noises are melodies.
Examples of the previous statement exist everywhere in the album. From the very beginning, "Destroyer" starts with a massive instrument hammering intro and the signs of a musical structure begin to show thirty seconds later, where a riff emerges from the overall randomness. It's the only track Gaahl sings to in the album and his vocals are pretty decent, especially during it's second half, even though the song itself is tiring. More random samples come along in the third track "The Devil, The Sinner And His Journey". Here, we are introduced to Frost and his great drumming style, which is also the only above average track in terms of the drums, as all the other are the typical necessity. Yet, it ends abruptly and has various key lines (played by Daimonion of Enslaved, probably) that seem like an experimentation, without fitting at all to the music.
Furthermore, the sixth track "Blodoffer" is just horrible. It's as simplistic as it can be, it has some awful sound effects behind it and disgusting retching vocals that conclude to one of the worst songs in the album. I almost thought it was a joke when I first listened to it. It's an ongoing, monotonous piece of trash. Sadly, the Darkthrone cover they did of the song "Slottet i det fjerne" should also be considered as an attempted rape, it's really bad. If I wasn't aware of the actual, I would not have cought a single riff in there, it is shadowed by the same problems of production and sound, as the rest of the album. "The Virginborn" is a slower and longer track (lasting eight minutes) which isn't much of an activity, but it's generally listenable.
On the other hand, the few legit moments of Destroyer are basically the tracks "Om Kristen Og Jødisk Tru" and "Open The Gates", which have an old-school black metal feeling, lacking the various annoying elements and keeping a good riff or two as a core. I didn't expect to like the epic clean vocals in "På Slagmark Langt Mot Nord" because I hated them in Under the Sign of Hell, but they seem to work out well here. All in all, the music in Destroyer is not at all good and it often shows or unstable songwriting. Could it be that so many people were involved in the album? The main part was written by Infernus and Tormentor, but different musicians are playing different roles in different tracks and that formula rarely works to me.
The origin of the album's title is not hard to guess, as the book Twilight of the Idols, or How One Philosophizes with a Hammer by Nietzche has the same title. It is the same fucking title. If these people were so influenced by it, at least think of your own sentence, it's not that difficult. Everyone knows how staggering huge album titles are, and they leave very few to the imagination. Gorgoroth later took the first half of the book "Twilight of the Idols" to use it in a later album in 2003, thinking that by adding another phrase it would get more original. I don't like it when bands do that and it's not a healthy influence process. Of course it has nothing to do with the music, but it does to the overall worth of the album.
In overall, I think this album does more harm than good to the image of the band, as for the artwork, the music, the line up and the subject itself. They tried new things with new people and that by definition demands more time to work compositions, so a year after the previous full length was rather a hasty and sloppy decision, to release a sloppy album. I would say Destroyer is boring and sometimes bothering to the ear.
Originally written for:
Destroyer is a strange album. The production, sonic quality, and even lineup vary wildly. In most other albums, it wouldn't work. On Destroyer, these elements seem to enhance the atmosphere, instead of detracting from it. The use of samples has been criticized by many for cluttering up the sound, but this is a cluttered album. The additional guitar work of Tormentor doesn't really do anything technical or all that mind-blowing at all (most leads are quite simple, and Tormentor spends a sizable amount of time just feeding back into the mic) but this also adds to the fundamental characteristic of Destroyer:
This is chaos. The atmosphere on Destroyer is the first time I feel that Gorgoroth actually produced an album appropriate to the name. There are two instances pf the name occurring in Tolkien's literature. The first is a valley that was bound by massive cliffs on one side and cursed woods on the other, and was filled with grotesque oversized spiders and other dire pests; the second is the plateau in Mordor that most of the events concerning Mordor went down, being the location of Sauron's Barad Dur tower and Orodruin (Mount Doom.) Destroyer's atmosphere here is appropriate for both. The guitars sound just as harsh as the guitars on Under the Sign of Hell, but far more spacious and monumental, like icy, poisonous winds cascading from cursed plains.
Indeed, a tidy mix like that found on Antichrist or even the garage like production of Under the Sign of Hell would've detracted from the jarring, disorganized genius here. The one constant, however, is the stark minimalism coupled with a seemingly cluttered atmosphere. This contradiction is most present in the song Blodoffer, which is a song that I'll admit took me a few listens to wrap my head around. It begins with one chord that's repeated for the most part with little variation, with the crashing and cacophonous samples attacking the listener, until the song resolves into a more traditional riff and pattern. While the rest of the songs are not quite as inaccessible as Blodoffer, that's the general feel of the album: spacious yet cluttered, minimalist yet overpowering.
The ever-shifting lineup gives each song it's own atmosphere, and while the whole album has a definite atmosphere, it is one that is both droning and jarring. The vocals of Infernus, while oft-criticized, are perfect for the job: disgusting, vile, and caustic. Pest handles vocals in most songs, though, and handles them quite well. Tormentor, their one-time second guitarist, is present in most songs, and while the difference is subtle, it's there, and Tormentor adds his own atmosphere to the songs. The songs themselves range from the faster (Destroyer, The Devil, The Sinner, and His Journey) to the slower (Open the Gates, the Virginborn). Tormentor's leads are most apparent in the song Om kristen og Jødisk Tru, where the lead guitar pretty much carries the crux of the song. Still, nothing technical is being done here; the atmosphere is the prime goal and that's what propels Destroyer to greatness.
Destroyer is not what I would often be playing in my car stereo, unlike a lot of other Gorgoroth albums; This is more for listening at home, maybe even on headphones. It's not Gorgoroth's best effort, but while Destroyer seems to be the less-understood album in Gorgoroth's discography, the atmosphere is killer, and this album does contain some real gems, and this should definitely not be overlooked!
Before I get into the review... No, this review has nothing to do with Christianity, Judaism, or even faith for that matter. For those more interested fans of any black metal band with non-English titles, they have most likely taken the effort to translate – as best as one can, anyways – the titles and lyrics of their favorite bands to see what it means. In this case, “Om Kristen og Jødisk Tru” translates – roughly, at least – as About Christian and Jewish Faith. Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's continue.
In general, I'd describe this album as filthy, blasphemous, wretched, vile black metal. More than that, though, it's noisy as hell, and while it is refined, sort of like Satyricon's Nemesis Divina, though perhaps a bit less ambitious, it is still a cold, harsh and fuzzy output by Gorgoroth. And no, I don't mean any of this in a bad way, otherwise I wouldn't have rated it so highly. In fact, it's what makes this album so great. I really like the guitars and vocals of this album. The former has multiple instances of feedback, making for a very real and live sound, while the latter is straight to the point.
To elaborate a little bit, the drumming is pretty standard, but very good. Nothing really stands out about the drumming, but without it, it'd just be a bunch of noisy, fuzzed-out guitars and some crazy guy screaming nonsense about Satan and his distaste for Christianity. The drum work on Destroyer punctuates everything quite well, and it is neither distracting or lost in the mix. It gives the guitars a nice rhythmic canvas to work within. The only thing I would've liked to see were maybe a few fills that stood out, ones that you anticipated their arrival. I like that the drums don't sound triggered or programmed, and come off sounding very real, like they were mic'd up and recorded in a studio room.
The guitars, on the other hand, belch out mid-range filth and fuzzed-out high end like an angry Tasmanian devil after some fast food. During the cover of the Darkthrone song “Slottet I det Fjerne” – which roughly translates as The Castle in the Distance – sees one guitar feedback throughout almost the entire song. Being a fan of 90's grunge, in particular Nirvana, and being a guitarist as I mentioned above, I rather enjoy the excessive feedback, not just in this song, but throughout the entire album. That said, I doubt everyone else enjoyed it as much as I do and possibly even hated the album for this very reason. I think the guitar work on this album is great, though I have not yet decided if it is my favorite yet as I love the guitar playing on the follow-up, Incipit Satan, quite a bit as well.
As usual with black metal, the bass is pretty much non-existent and makes me wonder if black metal bands would be missing out on anything if they did away with bass players entirely. I can occasionally hear something that approximates a bass, but it's generally buried in the mix and sticks to the root notes of whatever the guitars are playing, which doesn't help it any. That said, during the feedback-laden outro to The Virginborn, you definitely can hear the bass while it plays a nice simple melody and shows potential. It makes one wonder what a bass player could do if they weren't buried amidst the screams, blast beats, double kick, and noisy guitars on this album and in black metal in general.
The vocals... huh. I can barely follow who is on what track, but for the most part, the vocals do what they are supposed to. According to the Metal-Archives page for this album, Gaahl did the first song, Infernus did songs 6 and 8, T-Reaper did the 3rd track, and Pest did the rest. Kind of a mess, but at least the end result is nice. I'm not entirely sure why they did it, but it is what it is.
The random “Axl's Guns” style of recording this album doesn't just apply to the vocals, but rather the entire album as a whole. It's rather interesting that, by listening to the album without looking it up, you wouldn't be able to tell, but wow, what a mess. Infernus played every instrument at least once somewhere on the album, whether it be drums, vocals, guitars, bass, or effects, and makes one wonder why he didn't just do the entire album himself, perhaps with Tormentor helping to lighten the load a bit.
The production is nice and doesn't make things muddy or difficult to hear, maintaining all of the aggression of the guitar tones, which are grainy, filthy and perfect for black metal. Nothing sounds too out front or buried, with the obvious exception of the bass. The vocals are nice, retaining all of their blasphemous, vile nature, while the drums sound nice and live, like a real drum kit should sound.
Considering the mess that in the line up for this album, it could have turned out just as messy. All in all, I think this is a great slab of filth from Gorgoroth.
Stand out tracks:
Open the Gates
Om Kristen og Jødisk Tru
Destroyer is the fourth full-length album from Gorgoroth, and it is appropriately titled. Rather than being a normal studio effort, this is a collection of songs that were recorded between 1994 and 1998, with each track featuring a different line-up. Infernus must have been incredibly burnt-out following Under the Sign of Hell, as this was a horrible idea and only served to demonstrate that the band's creativity was running on low. This makes even less sense, considering that this was their first effort for a larger label, Nuclear Blast. As brilliant as the early Gorgoroth output is, this 1998 release did nothing to add to their legacy.
Musically, this record shows a lot of inconsistency. There are only a few songs that are even worth hearing, and those pale in comparison to those that came before. The freezing cold tremolo melodies of "Open the Gates" are memorable enough, and this track is probably the best one on here. This sounds the closest to the material on the previous album, which is natural since it includes three of the four members that were present on Under the Sign of Hell. A similar feel is found on "Om kristen og jødisk tru" and "The Virginborn", which are both performed by the same line-up. The former is somewhat reminiscent of "Funeral Procession, while the latter is much slower and possesses more of an epic atmosphere. These three songs are the only ones that would really appeal to fans of older Gorgoroth. The rest is better left unheard.
The negative aspects of this album are many. Much of it is experimental trash that has no business being passed off under the Gorgoroth name. "The Devil, the Sinner and His Journey" is a brief track that would be boring enough on its own, but the pitiful synth makes it seem like more of a joke. The keyboards have a spacey effect, as if Infernus wanted to mix Black Metal with his love of Star Wars. The title track is beyond lame and sounds like a throwaway track from Darkthrone's Total Death. Gaahl's vocals are exceptionally terrible, which would be a running theme during his entire tenure with the band. This is rather odd, as his work on the first Trelldom album was not bad, at all. "Blodoffer" is another laughable song that demonstrates exactly why Infernus never bothered to take over vocal duties for the band. His voice is drowning in effects, which only makes him sound ten times worse than he would have, already. There are also a lot of sound effects that distract from the riffs, generic though they might be. Compared to all of these, "På Slagmark Langt Mot Nord" does not sound all that bad, though it falls short is matching the level of the other tracks that feature Pest on vocals. Still, it might be worth hearing, just to decide.
One of the most disappointing songs on this album has to be the cover of Darkthrone's "Slottet I Det Fjerne". Based on Gorgoroth's previous style, as well as the fact that this is a brilliant song to begin with, one would expect it to be impossible for this to come out poorly. Unfortunately, that is exactly what happened. Not only was the pace of the song sped up, but the emphasis was taken off of the great guitar melodies and the focus was shifted to the effects-laden vocals of Infernus and the terrible drum programming. Why the hell this ever came into being is anyone's guess, as Gorgoroth really butchered this song in the worst possible way.
This was the album that signified the death of Gorgoroth, for the time being. It would not have been so bad, if the few decent songs on here had been released as an E.P. Even then, the material could have used a little more work and a less irritating production. Destroyer is certainly not worth purchasing, so it is recommended that you seek out the handful of passable songs by some other means, but do not waste money on this.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
I was worried at first when I heard Gorgoroth signed to nuclear blast records, I prayed to the gods of metal that they wouldn't sell out like Dimmu Borgir.
My prayers didn't go un-heard! Once again Infernus delivered the goods.
Firstly this album has a much colder raw sound than its three predecessors had and overall its hard to spot the similarities between Destroyer and the early works cos of the almost entirely new line-up.
The guitar work of Infernus really shines here. This becomes apparent when the mental intro on the title track ends and the riff kicks in, it gets louder and more insane as a mash of frenzied drumming and machine like noises are mixed up to culminate in one of the most insane black metal songs ever.
From here the pace doesn't really let up as Gorgoroth refuse to compromise their style by putting short slower passages into the middle of songs like so many other bands.
Obviously the drumming is good ( after-all this is black metal ) but alongside the guitar the vocals are amazing too. Gaahl's voice is your typical evil screeching but on this record they fit perfectly in time with the drums and guitars etc. This is cos of Infernus' brilliant song writing.
There is a big mix of styles on this album that are all very well put together. These include some more traditional metal style riffs like on "The Virgin Born" which is the only mid-paced track present. And a menacing presence of electronic samples like on the opener which thankfully never dominate the music and an awesome old school sound which make a very original sound throughout which has never been matched in the eight years since this album was vomitted forth into existence. Many bands have these elements in their music but only Gorgoroth have managed to blend them so well to make such a frenzied black metal assault.
Push play at your own peril. The first track on this album must be one of the most insane black metal songs ever. The opening 20 seconds of this track is like driving 200 mph in the wrong lane, not that I have ever tried driving a car, but I imagine it being close to this experience.
If you wish for distorted guitars like the ones on Gorgoroth’s other releases you’ll be disappointed. Not for the absence of them, but for the fact that people don’t make this kind of black metal any more. “Destroyer”, as the song is aptly named, is an ugly song, and the album is also an unpleasant acquaintance, though in my eyes that is just a flattering remark.
The albums itself spans over 4 years of Gorgoroth’s celebrated career (from 1994-199, something that explains the vast horde of musicians appearing on this “compilation” (I believe there are a total of nine different sets of fingerprints on this record), and the songs are therefore very varied, both when it comes to style and when it comes to quality. Overall, the album is still a typical Gorgoroth release, as it combines the extremely competent almost light-speed guitar-work that is the trademark of Infernus and the other stringmen, and the lovely melodic parts that makes the crushing brutality of songs like “Destroyer” appear almost unnecessary.
My personal favourites are “Destroyer”, “Open the Gates” and “The Virginborn”. As mentioned before, “Destroyer” is one hell of a beast. It speeds by as falling church masonry. A thing that gorgoroth has done on their later albums, and an idea that I support wholeheartedly. Why start an album with a lame two-minute ambient piece, or with some (cheesy) film-quotes, when you can just give the listener a minor head trauma? An interesting note about this song is that current vocalist Gaahl, made his first Gorgoroth appearance on this track (as far as I know). This song is therefore in some way a glance into the future of the band. “Open the Gates” and “The Virginborn” have an entirely different line-up, namely Infernus, Tormentor, Vrolok, Ares and Pest (these songs must then be from the period around “Antichrist” and “Under the Sign of Hell”), and are a huge step from the likes of “Destroyer”. The songs are much slower, and in these songs Gorgoroth shows that they have more to them than meets the eye. Actually these songs are so soothing and melodic that apart from the vocals this almost sounds like music that most people would be able to accept. Luckily Pest destroys any hopes of that, with his evil high-pierced voice described how Jesus lies dead at his feet.
As you may have figured, this is not merely a brutal black metal album about Satanism, war and u-boat sounds (!?). This is a political and religious manifesto, an open attack on Christianity, and its enslaved pawns.
Sadly, Gorgoroth will not print their lyrics for various reasons, one being that they do not want bands to cover them, so if you don’t understand the words, then it’s simply tough luck. This is a bit odd considering that they cover Darkthrone’s “Slottet I Det Fjerne”, but let’s leave that for another time, and just respect the band's wishes. From what you can salvage, Gorgoroth’s famous philosophical side (look at “Antichrist” for an instance), is still being nurtured, and Infernus & co. has always tried to show the listener that this is not only musical compositions, but is in fact works of art, in which the band tries to take a stand.
Gorgoroth has always had an enormous sense of originality, and only the band member’s solo-projects manage to make something remotely close to this beast. Pest’s Obtained Enslavement, or to some degree Orcustus, is close, but this is the magnum opus. “Destroyer or About How to Philosophise With the Hammer “ is truly Gorgoroth’s finest hour, if you have the time, try to find room to enjoy this tour de force, but take your time, and I’ll dare promise that you’ll not be disappointed with this album. Enjoy!
Gorgoroth is probably the most underrated band in the genre at this point. Where their older material lacked a clear vision and was mainly being a bit adolescent this album sky-rockets them into maturity.
This is what Black Metal is about! The production is a harsh and cold mixture of high en middle frequencies with the exception of the bassdrums (at least on the songs that are recorded with real drums, there's some drumcomputer on the album) who roll over the low end with a deadly-kick-in-the-stomach-bassdrone. Every break and every riff sounds like stomp in the face or a razor across the throath. Don't listen to it if you can only stand this type of music with a crisp and clear sound!
The album starts of viciously with the crushing song "Destroyer" which leaves absolutely no doubt about this band's mission: To Destroy Everything!!!
The song "Open The Gates" follows in a more mid tempo structure which carries a lot of weight and a great melody line that remotely reminds me of swedish death metal. Other great songs are "På slagmark langt mot nord" with it's deeply intense industrial sampling (Einsturzende Neubauten, anyone?) and the violent "Blodoffer".
But what really puts the cherry on the cake is the Darkthrone cover "Slottet I Det Fjerne". Now, for those of you who haven't heard the original let me tell ya it wasn't a walk through the park on a sunny day either but Gorgoroth dropped a fucking H-bomb on the entire fucking park and covered it in the soot and debris of all the dead christian pigs burnt in the process, thereby claiming dominance over the surving rabble of dogs and usurping the world of man!!! (gasps frantically while reaching for his Spawn figurine beating it mercilessly upon his self righteous christian G.I.JOE dolls)
Okay I'll tone down a bit now and say no more on the subject of burning Christians. Just buy this album cause it fucking rocks.