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You hear that cliche 'too many chiefs, not enough Indians.' Actually, since we're talking about Gorgoroth here, a more appropriate way of saying it could be 'too many Odins and not enough beserkers'. In any variation, it's an old saying but a good one to describe some of the band's output in the last ten or so years and in particular, Incipit Satan.
This is one of those strange albums that I liked when I heard it the first time and then could have sworn I heard something else the second time but not so much in an all bad way. I think it's because Gorgoroth has always sounded so consistent prior to this album. I would describe this record as an interesting misfire. Technically, Destroyer Or..is the debut album for Gaahl in the band and since I wouldn't be alone in viewing that full-length as little more than a glorified compilation album, Incipit Satan can be better looked back upon as the one where Gaahl is better evaluated on. As stated before about the directional issues on here, it doesn't surprise me that a tribal falling out would later ensue with this band because this album sounds awkwardly experimental in some places and comfortably black metal-ish in others.
The song called Incipit Satan is not very good at least for a beginning track. It actually sounds more closer to a death metal song than black metal. Gaahl even does pure death growls in the middle of it. The riffing is slower and there are a couple different sets of power chords chugging along to predictable beats. Sersjant Erichsen was brought in for this record and he's alright but I miss the beast blasting of Frost or Grim. Erichsen is more of a death metal drummer and that's probably one of the reasons why they used him here.
After that then comes the track A World to Win which made me go "yeah, now this is more like it!" I am an avowed Deströyer 666 fan and this song sounds very much like something from them. This still isn't typical Gorgoroth but that's perfectly alright if they can play this kind of stuff too! If you ever see this band live, watch out for this track. It's an essential live cut and one of the reasons why Gorgoroth led by Infernus and Tormentor is preferred but kudos to King Ov Hell for doing a fantastic job in writing the bass lines for this song because FOR ONCE the four strings play an integral part in giving a great black metal song much power in contributing. A World to Win is the tall and confident standout track on an otherwise wandering-around-lost album and as it so happens, the song is one of the band's finest moments too.
A World to Win is motivating but you can chalk the next song into the loss column. Gaahl is a good vocalist and front man. Litani Til Satan serves as little more than a showcase for his deadpan delivery and coldness. It's a very industrial tinged song. It sounds like Gorgoroth trying to do Rammstein. The only part I like about it is the cutting slow drum beat that guides the track.
I didn't quite know what to make of Unchain My Heart but after many more listens, I think this song is pretty damn horrendous once you get down to it. It starts out with a brief old saloon style piano part that tries to be ominous but is cheesy. The first stanza once the aggression blasts out hints at more of their ordinary sound but then the song quickly goes to complete shite! It contains pinch harmonics timed in which is a big no-no in black metal even if the black metal album flirts with industrial and death metal at times. You would do well to just get forget this song ever happened. The people upstairs at Nuclear Blast probably had something to do with encouraging it but shame on whoever thought it up. The track really stinks up the joint.
It's a rollercoaster ride, this album. Unchain My Heart was the vomit inducing turn in case you had to ask. An Excert of Ex brings things back to higher ground and reason, thank Satan. This is purely an Infernus track. It's beautifully morose and depressive side trip even if it doesn't help bring a consistent tone to the record. Then comes Ein Eim Av Blod Og Helveteslid. Awesomely brutal, this is easily the most identifiable black metal style that Gorgoroth plays but it also reminded me of the songs found on King's solo outting Jotunspor. I think King originally wrote the chaotic structures for the Gleipnirs Smeder album of Jotunspor and then some more traditional Gorgoroth speeds were added along with Gaahl's frightening screams. At least that is how it sounds. The drums cleverly start out with some death rolls and Sersjant then kicks into Norwegian black metal blast beats galore.
If Unchain My Heart was the skip-it track then Will to Power is the forget-it track. It's an electronica (read writer's block) piece that's phoned in as if someone dialed up Maniac and asked if they could borrow something left out of Grand Declaration of War.
The record ends with an unusual but mostly good song(that dreadful pinch rears it's unwelcomed head again though, fuck!!). The opening Celtic Frost-y riff is salivating! The riffs keep it going well throughout the heart of the cut and it ventures into the upbeat territory. Michael Krohn of the Oslo rock band Raga Rockers does the vocals on the track. It's pure clean style singing that sounds like Leonard Cohen. This song is called When Love Rages Wild in My Heart and it's the only pure experimental track that works on the album. At least they got it right in the end-for the most part.
Incipit Satan contains one of Gorgoroth's best songs (A World to Win) and one of their worst (Unchain My Heart). There's two maybe three other good songs on here. If you put the LP on a scale though, the balance is left hanging and the needle finally rests on failure. Besides the lack of hegemony, I'm not sure what went wrong here. Perhaps the band took too much time to write and record this. Maybe there was even too much experience between them. Sometimes that can work against you in a new lineup.