without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
Cold...hellish...destructive...and ultimately frightening...
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you...BLACK METAL!
1996 was obviously a BIG year for Black Metal. The first wave had come and gone, and a plethora of pissed off Norwegian and Swedish kids had sunk their demon fangs into the scene for a good number of years. The Big Four of Norwegian BM (EMPEROR, IMMORTAL, DARKTHRONE, and MAYHEM) set the stage for a LOT of newcomers eager to dip their dainty li'l toes into the Burning Lake to shine and show the Christian horde that they still had plenty to fear. While a good number were substandard, or out-right sucked balls, a few showed good enough potential to stick around the scene, get signed, and release albums. One such band was GORGOROTH.
Regardless of the misanthropic and criminal turn the band has undergone in recent years, the music more than speaks for all the jail time they face(d). "Pentagram" was grim, albeit drawing heavy DARKTHRONE/BATHORY influences..."Antichrist" was brutal, though taking only baby steps in the right direction...but it wasn't until "Under the Sign of Hell" stormed the Earth like a swarm of locusts did GORGOROTH spawn forth a multitude of demonic forces hell-bent on burning every house of worship the world over. Musically, of course...if they can or cannot do so physically, that has yet to be seen.
Within the first few seconds of "Revelation of Doom", the band bursts forth in a dark rage not seen since the explosive first riffs of EMPEROR's "Into the Infinity of Thoughts", and the same pace keeps up for the rest of the song and into Track no. 2, "Krig". Blistering guitar riffs rip through pulsing bass rhythms and chaotic drumwork courtesy of ol' demon drummer boy Grim (RIP). Vocal-wise, Pest displayed possibly the sickest and most inhuman vocal work on ANY black metal album during the second wave. Though rendering the lyrics 90-95% incomprehensable, his voice alone can give you chills. The biggest perk off this album, as opposed to many of their substandard peers, is that the song-writing is actually INTELLIGENT and THOUGHT OUT! Who'da thunk it for Black Metal?? If not seen within the speedfests of "Ødeleggelse Og Undergang" and the aformentioned "Revelation of Doom", to the cold and chilling "Funeral Procession", Mr. Infernus crafts a deadly dark mixture of intensity and melody that many Black Metal bands cannot combine (they either go for one or the other, not often to glorious results). Even the rather creepy ambient piece "Postludium" is worth noting, citing nightmarish imagery and atmosphere.
However, despite all its high points, there are a couple low points one notices after repeated listenings, though not many that would warrent the CD worthless, thankfully. First of all, the album itself only runs about 39 minutes, which, unfortunately, flies right by in the whirlwind haze the album is known for. As well, "The Devil is Calling" isn't quite a good closer. It's a half-way decent song, but more akin to industrial than Black Metal, and doesn't seem to fit the scheme of things as well as the rest of the album. But that's why Satan invented the Stop Button.
So, to recap...cold...hellish...destructive...and ultimately frightening...elements many other second/third-tier Black Metal bands WISH they could initiate, but seem to fail to do so. "Under the Sign of Hell", however, is evil in its unpurest form. Ave Satanas, indeed.