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I’m too depressed and embarrassed about this album to go into much detail about my background as a Gorgoroth fan, and especially my adoration of the original 1997 version of this album. Naturally, I was skeptical about the idea of a re-recording, and wondered what on earth the qualms Infernus could possibly have had with the original. Still, I was interested to see what the current line-up had to bring to the table and thought it would be cool to hear some of my favourite Gorgoroth songs reinterpreted.
Fucking shit, dude.
Nothing could have prepared me for this mess. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the opening track of Under the Sign of Hell, Revelation of Doom, and being completely dumbstruck by every aspect of the song. Infernus sounded as if he was conjuring a demonic maelstrom with his furious riffs, Grim’s legendary assault on the snare, Pest shrieking blasphemous scriptures against all things good and holy, and the rehearsal-like production which really sold the charm of the whole album like nothing else. I’ll also never forget my jaw dropping in bewilderment the first time I heard Revelation of Doom off this brand spanking new re-recording. It’s as if the band went out of their way to strip everything away that made the original so endearing, and just offer up the hollow shell of each song, with no thought to coherency, nevermind atmosphere.
I imagine most detractors of this album will accuse the production of sounding too much like Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt, when in fact the production on Quantos… is tenfold better than it is here. That album, while decidedly being less aggressive than previous Gorgoroth releases, still packed a somewhat heavy and fast bite when it wanted to, whereas the sound couldn’t be more limp-dick and tame here. That’s right, Gorgoroth sound tame on this album. There’s absolutely no freezing edge to Infernus’ guitars, and the whole mix sounds so compressed and artificial.
The drums… If Grim were to rise from his grave and hear this album, I’m positive he’d abruptly kill himself all over again. I’ve never been a fan of Tomas Asklund, but his performance here makes Reinkaos sound fucking harsh. This is probably the biggest problem with the album, as his repetitive and utterly lifeless plodding through the songs (especially the slower paced ones like Funeral Procession and The Devil is Calling) make the music all but entirely unlistenable, not to mention his blastbeats are some of the least threatening I’ve ever heard. It really makes me wonder what the album would have sounded like if they got long time studio collaborator, Frost, on board. Surly it couldn’t have turned out worse than this.
Pest seems to be the only member whose intentions were in the right place, as he really does deliver a menacing vocal performance. Despite his efforts, though, each song still sucks corpsepainted balls. What’s funny, in fact, is that his extreme vocals often sound out of place overtop the lackluster and really tamed down instruments. He attempts to retain the chaotically violent ending to Revelation of Doom with some inhuman shrieks, but the instrumentation just isn’t there to support him. Inferus literally sounds bored and lazy with the music, and doesn’t even bother playing the great solo in The Rite of Infernal Invocation. Seriously, how are things like this explainable?
A part of me is surprised at how low I’m rating this album (a full 80% less than what I gave the original), but seriously, this sounds more like an insulting parody of the original album, rather than a legitimate and justified re-recording. Thankfully, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t care too much about these sorts of albums, as my love for the original will always remain, and I’m fairly content with ignoring this for as long as I listen to Gorgoroth. That said, this is a fairly glaring shit stain on Gorgoroth’s legacy, and basically shows us that they’re losing touch with black metal. It also concerns me on a personal level since this is the first time Gorgoroth have truly disappointed me since the King era.