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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