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The Black Flame burns on... - 85%

Lord_Jotun, September 14th, 2003

Black Metal is dead, long live Black Metal!
This is all that can be said about this unique musical phenomenon. Black Metal is an undead genre which is continuosly reurrected into new and ever different forms not only by promising newcomers, but by the original creators of the scene itself. Albums like "666 International", "Grand Declaration Of War" or "Volcano" explain it better than a million words.
There are artists, however, who prefer to dig deeper in search of the musical roots of it all rather than climbing up to newly sprouting limbs. This is how albums like "Morbid Fascinations Of Death" and this "Twilight Of The Idols" are born.

Since their early manifestations in 1993, Gorgoroth have always incarnated an unique force among the angry underground metal scene in Norway. Combining simple but effective riffs, primitive arrangements and quite a high dose of brutality, their discography is really a journey through the multiple shapes of hatred. "Twilight Of The Idols", subtitled "In Conspiracy With Satan" as if to underline where the inspiration comes from, is the new chapter in this black book. Once again, the same old Black Metal, which is never the same and thus never old.

Musically the album is the logical fllow up to the band's previous output, "Incipit Satan", and the step forward is obvious, as the sound is much more cohesive and self-confident. The album kicks off with the bonecrushing speed of "Procreating Satan", a malevolent storm of infernal darkness to reassure any doubtful listener that Gorgoroth haven't forgotten where their quintessence lies. Yet, as the track proceeds, slower and more plodding tempos enter the soundscape, and so the nature of this new album is unveiled.

No, the faster assaults aren't definitely lacking - tracks like "Forces of Satan Storms", "Blod og Minne" and the vaguely Darkthronish "Of Ice and Movement" are there to satisfy your lust for pure aggression. The real surprise of "Twilight Of The Idols" is the abundance of mid tempos, which create a very sombre, malignant atmosphere without sacrificing power and drive. This is the spirit of a song like "Exit - Through Carved Stone", a masterpiece of heaviness and fury in slow motion, or the disquieting "Teeth Grinding". Yes, variety is the band's wild card this time around. With "Incipit Satan" Gorgoroth began to experiment, now they know and understand perfectly what they are doing. And they do it well.

Musically, the new line-up, once again a four piece, works extremely well; actually, the contribution of the newcomers is fundamental in creating this balance of classic and innovation which makes the new Gorgoroth sound so interesting. The production is also more appropriate and fits the music a lot better: I am used to harsh sounds but I still believe that parts of the previous album had been downright ruined by the "grim at all costs" sound.
No more room for taht here, luckily. King's bass is now clearly audible and even Infernus's axes have a more palatable distortion, making it easier to discern how interesting and varied those riffs are. Kvitrafn's drumming is more than appropriate, although some patterns could have been more developed - still, it's Gorgoroth we're talking about, a band whose music has always been known for its essential approach.
The real surprise comes from Gaahl's vocals. The band's latest vocalist simply shines here, showing an amazing range of expression which varies from song to song - from the classic ferocious screaming of the album opener to the murmuring narration on "Teeth Grinding" - , contributing to make the variety of the material even more apparent.

All in all, "Twilight Of The Idols's" is my favourite Gorgoroth release since "Under The Sign Of Hell", and I am sure it will be looked back upon as one of the band's most interesting offerings as time goes on. Definitely a great piece of Black Metal art. Recommended.