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Underrated classic - 88%

The_Ghoul, February 21st, 2013

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!