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Gorgoroth is, without any doubt, the most discussed black metal band ever. More than Mayhem, more than Burzum, Gorgoroth has made the black metal appear on newspapaers’ frontpages for their infamous acts. No need to tell again the same old story, you can find it on a lot of websites, even over here. I’ll just say that the line-up changes that happened in the years previous Incipit Satan changed a lot the band’s own sound. Gorgoroth stared as a typical black metal band in the early 1990s and released three masterpieces under the names of Pentagram, Antichrist and Under the Sign of Hell. Those three albums were extremely good in their own sub-genere, and nowadays are considered “classic” black metal albums. Then, something went wrong in the Gorgoroth’s family, because every member left in short times, leaving Infernus (the founder and leader of the band) alone. Hopefully he had some previously recorded songs from the Pentagram session ‘til the 1998 year, which he decided to publish in the Destoyer album. But it’s better to leave that for another review and let’s focus on Incipit Satan.
Infernus had found new musicians in order to record his new effort, but the line-up changes happened in the past had critically changed the band’s sound. It should be noted that the arrival of Gaahl on vocals and King ov Hell on bass will mean a lot for Gorgoroth, expecially in the future. On this record, the three members mentioned above are the main men behind the songwriting, but due to personal reasons, Infernus left to King ov Hell the hard duty to write the most part of the new songs. The only song that Infernus composed and eventually recorded by himself is An Excerpt of X, one of the album’s top songs. What will suddenly stun the listener is the production: no more raw and dirty guitar riffs creating a wall of sound, but a carefully crafted sound, balanced in its shapes. The bass guitar will anyway remain hidden under the other instruments, with a few exceptions, but it’s too few to judge it. Another thing that Gorgoroth have changed, or better, a thing that they have added to their sound, is an industrial influence, provided by the guest musician Daimonion, also known as Ivar Bjørnson, leader of Enslaved and ex-member of Borknagar. Despite this industrial injections, Incipit Satan mantains a damned black metal approach and attitude.
The title-track welcomes you produly and raging as a thunder storm. The most fast and cruel shape of Gorgoroth reveleas suddenly, without any fear. The riffing is very melodic and tight, the tone is darker because the band had tuned their instruments one step down. That sense of melody will increase in the second track, A World to Win, in the main riff of the song. It’s one of the most intense moments of the entire album, a great example of melodic yet furious black metal. Litani Til Satan slows down the pace and shows for the first time an innovation. In fact, this song is more like a prayer than an actual composition, built up on a very catchy guitar riff and supported by a strong rhythmical section. Gaahl shows his often overlooked vocals chanting a real litany, and even without any lyrics we can understand that’s some satanic theme behind it. The top song of Incipit Satan is without any doubt Unchain my Heart. Despite the name, which is very unusual for a satanic-based song, this is one of the best Gorgoroth’s song ever. It has an atmospheric intro, an aggressive riff, a slowed down section and the melodic-fury moment (already a trademark of Gorgoroth) around the second minute of the song. The quality of this song is incredibly high, a thing that would make the following song weaker and poor. Not here, thankfully! Infernus decided to put there his own song: An Excerpt of X. Another very interesting name used for a masterpiece of darkness, demostrating that Infernus is a real genius when it comes the song writing process. Ein Eim Av Blod Og Helvete is more like the first two songs of this record and thus is straight and aggressive, but sadly inferior to the previous track. Its quality is anyway excellent and way above the average black metal songs of the new millenium.
For the classic black metal listener the album should end here, unless you want to try some unique musical experiments. In fact, Gorgoroth have chosen to end the album in a very special way: a n industrial/ambient song and a rockish black metal opus. Will to Power is the ambient song, based on the very same beat, but not boring or annoying. It’s as dark as the other songs, if not more. Then we have When Love Rages Wild in my Heart. At the first listens I found difficult to understand that song, really. It was the less expected thing I ever thought to hear from Gorgoroth, a black metal song that seems singed by Elivs Presley with a rock approach to it. It’s singed by Micky Faust, a guest vocalist who sang only on that song and not on the rest of the ablum. The song grows every time you listen it, and you’ll end to listen the whole album just to reach the last track. A very introspective muic composition.
Overall, this album is a high quality ablum frome one of the most discused bands ever. Often described as the worst effort made by Gorgoroth, this one is probably one of their best; if you listen it carefully and for a decent number of times, you’ll learn to love it. The best song is Unchain My Heart; other suggested listens are A World to Win and An Excerpt of X.
Songwriting: 27. Almost reaches perfection in the various aspects of the album. Not only black metal but industrial (Will to Power) and some almost rock influences (When Love Rages Wild in my Heart).
Musicianship: 25. The line-up changes have influenced this. You cannot expect something excellent from a recent line-up such as the one Gorgoroth had on this effort, but despite this aspect, the musicianship showed here it’s very good.
Production: 28. The good sound for this kind of music. It’s clear but it still reaches the aim to give a feeling of feral fury and uncontrolled rage, one of the most classic Gorgoroth’s aspects.
Other: i give another 14 points to this release. The reason is simple and you should have already understood it while reading my review. Gorgoroth managed to change their musical direction while keeping their trademarks; Infernuus must be proud of this album, very important in his career because it represents the change from the raw black metal sound to the actual Gorgoroth’s sound.