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The black metal band ‘Gorgoroth’ was formed in the year 1992. Their first release, ‘Pentagram’, was the usual dose of black metal. Very good if I may add, but nothing entirely new. Then came ‘Antichrist’, an album in which they began to do a little bit of experimenting. Instead of fast paced black metal, they began to work more with atmosphere. Oh yes there was speed here and there, but nothing compared to ‘Pentagram’. A good album as well, but ‘Pentagram’ was just better to me. Then came ‘Under Sign of Hell’, released 5 years after their inception, and it is by far the best album they will probably ever write in their career. ‘Under The Sign of Hell’ is 32 minutes of fierce black metal of pure fury. Most black metal bands would normally sing of Satan and such, and you felt absolutely nothing. Yea, yea, yea, Satan this, Satan that, whatever. But for some reason, when ‘Gorgoroth’ sings of Satan on this album, you can’t help but feel that this is true black metal, that these musicians truly believe and love Satan.
It’s the atmosphere portrayed in this album that make it so good; it’s raw, and it sounds very real. The performance of Pest is what solidifies this album as an ungodly album. Their previous singer, Hat, was good but is no where near as good as Pest. Pest truly puts his heart and soul into his voice, projecting an energy that is so rare to hear from a vocalist. In the song ‘Blood Stains the Circle’, Pest sings of swearing allegiance to the Devil. I know their lyrics aren’t printed, but I’m sure that near the end he screams, “Consecrate us! My savior!” When those words are uttered, you feel the passion, the love that this guy is showing. It may be fake, but my God does it sound so fucking real. When I first heard those words, the hairs on my neck and arms stood on end.
Then comes the guitar, which is another component that makes the atmosphere on this album so real. The riffs give off such an evil aura, that you wouldn’t be surprised that the guitar player would be Satan himself. But in reality, it is none other than Infernus, playing riffs that are very fast, fierce, and memorable. A good representation of what makes a black metal riff good. It’s hard to fully explain the sound of Infernus’s style, but it is somewhat unique. After all, it wouldn’t be ‘Gorgoroth’ without his riffs.
And the drums, the final ingredient in this album of pure black metal art. Most will tell you that Frost is the best drummer that ‘Gorgoroth’ has ever had. I must greatly disagree with this claim. That honor goes to Grim. The fast, vengeful playing of utter hatred is what Grim does on this album. It may be the overall sound that the snare gives off, but whatever it is, it fucking worked. Don’t get me wrong, when the drums kicked in at the beginning of ‘Revelation of Doom’, I was stunned. It came out of nowhere, and it is absolutely bizarre sounding. But when you hear it with Infernus’s guitar playing and Pest’s vocal performance, only then will you truly understand the significance of those drums. I assure you that Frost could not have done the same had he played on this album. Sure, his technique may be better, but Grim fucking beats the shit out of those drums, producing a sound that only compliments the atmosphere of this album. The mixture of these three musicians is what created the black, grim atmosphere of this album, a unique mix that sadly will never be heard again.
As for the bass, well, I can’t really hear it. If it’s there, then it’s there, but it did nothing for me.
‘Under the Sign of Hell’ is one of three albums that greatly represent black metal, in my opinion of course. If someone who never has heard of black metal asked me for a CD that showed them what black metal was, this album would be one that I would give them. Sure it may scare them away, but if it does, then it may not have been for them in the first place. ‘Gorgoroth’ has written solid albums, but it is this one that outshines them all. Will they ever write an album better than this one? I say no, but one could always hope.