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In April 1994, roughly one year after releasing their first demo, Gorgoroth decided to release a promo tape that included two new songs to be featured on their upcoming full-length, Pentagram. The band's sound had been streamlined, just a bit, from the earlier recording. Infernus, Hat and Goat Pervertor had also been joined by Samoth, of Emperor, during this time. The end product sounds more professional than the previous demo, though not nearly as good as the album that would follow.
The songs featured on here are "Katharinas Bortgang" and "Måneskyggens Slave". The latter is somewhat of an odd choice, in that Gorgoroth basically decided to ruin the surprise of the very best song of the upcoming album, six months early. Usually, it would be wise to save that for the full-length and to tease people with something else. Either way, this material must have increased the anticipation for the release of Pentagram, given the high quality of the songs. One of the main differences between this and the tracks on A Sorcery Written in Blood is the somewhat more melodic orientation of the songwriting. There are less old school '80s riffs thrown in, with more of a reliance on the hypnotic tremolo melodies. Both compositions are very dynamic, giving them somewhat of an epic atmosphere that was not present on the first demo. Another major shift is the change in the vocal department. Hat's voice has now become a much higher-pitched rasp, rather than the torn-throat shrieking of before. It flows a little better and suits the music, especially considering that he sounds to have better control over his breathing and a higher lung capacity, but it loses something in that his previous approach was just so utterly hateful that you could truly feel it.
Recorded in Grieghallen and produced by Pytten, the sound here is quite a bit better than A Sorcery Written in Blood. However, this does not represent the final mix that would be used on the full-length, thankfully. Though these are the same recordings that appear on the album, the overall sound is very different. Everything is kind of flat, as opposed to the fuller and more powerful sound of Pentagram. It is almost like the different between Transilvanian Hunger and De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. This is good in that it shows improvement from the demo and gives a decent idea of what is to come, but it cannot compare to the finished versions.
Promo '94 was likely a useful release at the time, keeping the band's name out there during a time when so many classic albums were being released. However, it is rather useless now. These are the exact same recordings that are on the Gorgoroth's first full-length, just with an inferior mix, so there is not even the curiosity of hearing a different version of the songs, as with the demo. This is not even really recommended for die-hard fans, as it just offers so little. If you seek this out at all, find one a reissue that also contains the previous demo tracks.
Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com
Gorgoroth is a band that is easily known for their antics as well as their music. A band stepped in bad blood and bad luck, they have stubbornly kept soldiering on through their entire career. Their 1994 promo is an extremely short sample of what would come in the years as far as musical abilities but I truly believe they have never been able to capture what magic they had up to "Under The Sign of Hell" which afterwards they became without a doubt part of the poster boys for everything wrong with black metal next to the idols that "Lords of Chaos" fans continue to worship.
What strikes me the most about this demo is the sound, as it has a 'frozen in time' feel to it which perfectly describes what was at the very tail end of the 2nd wave just right before the 3rd wave kicked-in. Original lead singer Hat's vocals are very hollow-sounding while guitars have the classic bee's nest buzzing going on. Guitarist Infernus has done his homework that's for sure. Drums are a bit muddy but clicky in some parts and you can hear a tom roll here and there.
"Katharinas Bortgang" wastes no time with delivering Satan's goodies. Hat is shrieking his head off and sounds like he is stranded in a blizzard. Around 2:30 - 2:41 we hear some excellent tempo changes that keeps the momentum building and then at 2:42 we are thrown into what is my favorite riff ever made by Infernus. "Måneskyggens Slave" starts off with a chaotic frantic riff that slows down to a doom-like crawl. This song is total Darkthrone/Mayhem/Burzum worship where you know you've heard these riffs before but for a band like Gorgoroth to do the same style of music, there really is no hint of idol worship here. No, Gorgoroth are already at an early period in their career are already finding themselves at a tremendous rate.
If you are like me and the hundreds of thousands of others whom have grown tired of Gorgoroth's antics over the years but still remember at a time when they were pretty legit in making music, this is obviously a must-have. For only two songs, I wouldn't be surprised if I prefer to listen to this than anything else in their discography in the years to come.
The process of fully understanding the Norwegian beast that spawned Gorgoroth and all of the other wicked metallic orders, who turned 1994 into a year long protest against all that was destroying metal, is mostly one of unlearning. This process varies depending on the individual, but in all cases, involves letting go of any attachment to what conventional wisdom deems to be beautiful. Contrary to what many will tell you, black metal is very much a beautiful art form, but it presents itself in a fashion that is far too honest for most to handle, and often requires a concerted effort in order for it’s outer layers of brutality and inner layers of consonant melody to be fully comprehended.
This 1994 promo, which is widely swapped online due to being pretty scarce in analog form lately, presents two sides of Gorgoroth’s variation on the revolution that exploded in the same year. These sides could be best described as two sides of a decomposing head, one side still in the process of having its flesh consumed by the unseen janitors of nature, the other fully laid bare to the bone without a trace of its living fleshy shell. The former side is the extremely raw and under-produced demo that the band pieced together in 1993, which sounds fairly similar in quality to Darkthrone’s “Land Of Frost” demo, although vocally it’s 3 times as screechy and morose. The latter side is the clear cut, crisp yet thick as hell 2 songs that are found on the band’s legendary debut “Pentagram”.
Naturally to anyone first trying to discover and understand this sort of music, the last place that you will go is a rough demo that would usually only be sought by a diehard fan, but these were also the necessary process by which the rotting corpse became the aesthetically acceptable skeleton that is a favorite villain in various supernatural myths. “Gathered At Blakulla” is mostly a collection of random noises simulating what sounds like tortured spirits whaling away at passing ships on the Island contained in the song’s title. “Sexual Bloodgargling” sounds a little bit more atmospheric despite the “Deathcrush” sounding title, and other than the extremely low fidelity vocal mixing, passes for something similar to Burzum’s early material, but with a vocal job closer to what you’d hear on a Mayhem demo. “(Under) The Pagan Megalith” is the only song on here that really closely resembles the more thrashing style exhibited on the band’s full length debut, mostly in the form of Slayer-like riffs that are a little slower than said band’s first 3 albums.
By contrast, the two songs that are promoting the album that followed reveal a band that is probably closest to the blackened thrash style pioneered by Sodom, Hellhammer and Bathory in the early to mid 80s of any adherents to the 2nd wave in Norway. This is particularly noticeable in the extremely clear riff construction of both songs. Blast beats are often employed, but not in the perpetual way heard on “Transylvanian Hunger”. Likewise, the band seems least drawn to the minimalistic nature of the genre that is heavily present in Darkthrone’s and Burzum’s music at this point in history, and isn’t afraid to throw in more than 2 or 3 riffs and one change in feel per song, much the way Darkthrone did on “A Blaze In The Northern Sky”. “Katharina’s Bortgang” actually makes use of this really chaotic wall of sound for the first minute and 50 seconds before bursting into a series of intricate thrash sections, much in the manner that a lightning bolt might rip a huge crack in an otherwise perfectly black sky.
In addition to being a fun listen for the refined ear, this promo sort of functions as a gateway and a teaching school for someone not well schooled in this genre. The old school thrash metal fan who may be prone to giving this genre a chance because of exposure to Sodom’s “In The Sign Of Evil” or any of Bathory’s first 3 albums could definitely appreciate the solid blend of rapid paced riffing and dark melodies on the 2 promo songs, while the 3 demo songs might take a little more time to appreciate for what they are. But the real place for the crossover from the slightly less extreme thrash metal of Morbid Saint or Possessed to this band is found in the full length debut “Pentagram”.
Originally submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on November 24, 2008.