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Hearing this album straight through from the first track doesn’t help give quite an open impression, so I recommend this to you: hear the last track, have a good laugh, and then go hear the rest of the album. You could call this by far Gorgoroth’s most experimental work, but I feel that it mingles just fine with the later recordings thanks to Infernus’ trademark style of sinister showmanship. Say what you want about Micky Faust and his fat-ass Elvis impression (I find it hilarious), but hearing that first tremolo riff (the one accompanying Faust’s vocal introduction) is like taking a spear to the heart; it sounds so evil, vile, despicable, and heartless that you know this is Gorgoroth bringing Satan ‘round the mountain.
All over the album I hear some of the most perilous riffs fluttering like locusts (tremolo), building up into a colossal wave (akin to later albums), and actually nailing melodic death metal without becoming contrived. Gorgoroth on this release become more of an idea rather than an entity – they don’t belong in one tangible form, but shape themselves accordingly to trial and error. If they fuck up, they can go back and fix themselves within seconds – no points knocked off, no paparazzi, no strikes against them, nothing. The process becomes more fluid and less focused / attentive while still remaining something that isn’t shy of our perception.
For instance, “An Excerpt Of X” is merely a catalyst towards a feeling… an invigorating mood that forms a connection between the listener and not Gorgoroth… but a collective set of ideas that we can only think about. The second that song ends, we are thrust back into a world we know, a world we live in, a world that feels less special because it doesn’t always seem as serene as that song. This isn’t Gorgoroth with the sick riffs and sadistic attitude like in the 90s, but in comparison this seems more like a set of tracks that would split the band apart.
There’s definitely a distinguishing feature here – everything was done on purpose for a reason: the type of vocals performed, the way the guitars churn in a grindy fashion, why bass is at its jazziest, and so forth. Infernus can only give you a real answer, but I’ll just say that it was done to give another face to black metal. Sure, you can probably outwit me on this one, but the point is that we’re meant to react to this kind of music a certain way. Many people feel differently about certain albums, even if they like it, but Incipit Satan binds us in only one scripted form. We’re meant to listen to it a certain way, interpret it a certain way, and praise it a certain way. Does it not make sense that King and Gaahl took inspiration for the two subsequent albums from this album? All they had to do was take the same aspects and strip it of any free range. Notice the two King and Gaahl albums sound most akin to this album by far, and I believe it’s because both of them found a way to exploit this direction. I mentioned that this album could be looked at as one that has the potential to split the band apart – guess I wasn’t too far off on that (even though there’s much more to it).
Regarding the regular instruments (guitars, bass, drums), the culmination isn’t too instigating. It’s the arrangements and nature that keep us in check so that we don’t go judging this album the wrong way. “Will To Power” on one end just sounds like a waste of time, but if that’s someone’s line of thinking then they wasted their time looking for the wrong resolutions. Guitars have this intriguingly distorted pitch that chew up the playing field like barbed wire – very sharp, crispy, and wicked. To me, the sound of the guitars here are more twisted than on the debut; they aren’t cold, but they’re done right and with more cynical consequences. I can’t blame King either on his bass lines, which sound incredible as they sit opposite of Infernus; they sound chunky, fat, and inquisitive amongst Infernus’ more warped playing. If anything, he brings in more of a finishing blow, since the distorted guitars have a ton of bite…but less of a bark. Guess that’s what King is good at… blowing.
Gaahl’s singing reminds me of Kvarforth in how he does anything but sing in a familiar way. His style hear is very unpolished and unfocused, but more expressive than on the others. You’ll get to hear his nasty screams, but he also caters to other vocal forms from speaking to grunting. Infernus kind of has a vocal role, but its limited to just speaking – surprisingly, it goes well and adds this very supernatural touch to its respective song, “An Excerpt Of X.” Micky Faust I found to be the shit because I rarely get to hear such cheesy vocals in black metal. The song itself is a lesser form of black ‘n roll, but he doesn’t seem out of place at all. Drumming I can describe all day on how supportive it is, but it plays the least important role in the music. In fact, it sounds quieter in the mix than anything else (aside from the double bass), though I think it fits better this way. If the riffs go berserk, drumming does the same; if the rhythm prods along, then the drums have some form to fall back on.
Wow, what a read; you’re bound to get confused by at least one sentence up there. If anything, just check out the album and listen with open ears. Don’t go in hoping for Pentagram - Part II or a contender against Under The Sign Of Hell. Nay, this is a Gorgoroth that wishes for simple respect and shows little desire to compete with the other albums