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Now this is an unusual dilemma to be reviewing an album under: should I actually bother to do it at all? The reason - since Regain Records sent us this promo, the Swedish courts have agreed with Gorgoroth's appeal against Regain that "True Norwegian Black Metal - Live In Grieghallen" is in violation of various copyrights and agreements and has been ordered to cease distribution of the release. So basically, for the time being at least, you the reader may never get to hear this!
Anyone who follows the goings-on in the Extreme/Black Metal world will of course know about the split in the Gorgoroth camp, with Gaahl and King Ov Hell heading in one direction with the name, and sole remaining founder-member Infernus heading in another. There has still yet to be a resolution to the argument and so frankly Gorgoroth is currently a bit of a mess. As if after the infamous Krakow performance of 2004, Gaahl's 'performance' in "Metal: A Headbanger's Journey" and more recently his potential 'coming out' hadn't already given the band a somewhat shady reputation! For the record though, "Live In Grieghallen" features the line-up pre-split, so is apparently that of Gaahl (vocals), Infernus (guitar AND bass) and Garghuf (drums) which goes some way to explaining what was to be my first point - that "Live In Grieghallen" does not sound in the slightest bit like a live recording. There is no sense of atmosphere, no crowd noises and emits a well-rounded, clear sound that just simply cannot have been a live recording, or at least without significant over-dubbing and re-mastering. Whether the full 'concert' is contained or not I don't know but there are just 8 songs, barely lasting half an hour that ends as quickly as it finishes - "Alive In Athens" this is not. However all is not as bad as it may seem - the clear sound allows the dark brilliance of tracks like "Possessed (By Satan)" and "Unchain My Heart!!!" to be fully realised and it is during moments of these that one relishes that despite all the bravado and controversy, Gorgoroth have penned some damn fine pure Black Metal tunes. Gorgoroth sit firmly within the Darkthrone side of Norwegian Black Metal than say, Emperor or Mayhem, never reaching manic speeds nor featuring anything pretty or against the rule book of what constitutes 'True Norwegian Black Metal'.
Dirty old Thrash Metal riffs, of the kind blasted out by early Sepultura, pervade through in "Destroyer" and "Revelation Of Doom" and Gaahl screams for all he's worth, providing the listener with the sense of a man who clearly has issues with the world during a 20 second long strangled howl nestled in "Unchain My Heart!!!". Rather than aligning solely with Darkthrone there is time for an Isengard-influenced "Profetens Apenbaring" which, in true Isengard fashion, features the same nasal vocal style Fenriz created in that cult solo band of his.
Despite everything that surrounds Gorgoroth these days it is nice to listen to them for what they are: a Black Metal band. They aren't the most extreme but are surprisingly efficient at their parts and have long created a space for themselves in the pantheon of BM greats. "Live In Grieghallen" is a tempestuous release, possibly destined to never see the light of day, and with a short running length and doubts over it's 'live' status hardly a classic in the making but more a statement of exactly what is surely the most controversial music sub-genre in the world: True Norwegian Black Metal.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net