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The most underrated side-project - 90%

Andre Gaius, October 4th, 2014
Written based on this version: 1999, CD, The End Records

The advent of the suites that occupy an entire album into the heavy music was vastly explored by proggers back in the 70's. More than entertainment, it was supposed to be an out of body musical experience immersed in complexity. Contemporaneously, a lot of sludge/drone/doom acts also have released 1-track albums. I don't like it at all 'cause there is no sufficient tempo changes, atmospheric variations, nice interludes and other key-elements to that kind of music/album. And also the depressive wave sometimes uses this appeal, like Trist, Niemalsland etc. But DSBM definitely isn't my thing! So it seems uninteresting when generally a metal band deals with it. Of course there are exceptions, take Ictus (metallic crust punk!) and the more well-known Sabbat's gem as examples.

The Key to the Gates of Apocalypses (sic) is the 6th longest metal song and one of the darkest musical pieces ever. Varggoth has done something on this album that he had not achieved with any of his other music and which triumphs over many other similar attempts. Unlike the Nokturnal Mortum, here there is no folk sections and production is more raw (but would not be correct to label it as a raw black metal). The instrumental shouldn't be evaluated technically, since it's all about atmosphere and persuasion. Don't get me wrong, this one isn't an amateur crap with poor execution, however the mystical side takes you to feel its gloomy mood mixed into gruesome soundscapes on a totally mind-blowing vibe and you don't give a fuck to Varggoth's abilities.

The previous experiences with dark ambient has been applied to the work along with an emphatic black metal approach. It starts out with a dark ambient intro preceding the 'first black metal part', which consists of down-tempo. Then a macabre interlude evokes a mid-paced 'sub track' filled with haunting keyboards in a discrete, yet successful way and so on, i.e. the stuff consists in a deep and varied journey conjuring a very grim and netherworld picture, which is really not suitable for the uninitiated, nor is it intended for the Nokturnal Mortum fans.

The package is very, very simple and it seems more a demo than full album. 4-page b/w booklet with the cover art repeated inside, lyrics, a obscure pic, just the title on the back cover and a fully black disc. A simplicity that combines a lot with the mysterious spell surrounding this ridiculously ignored album. It's definitely a quintessential opus hidden amidst mediocre side-projects/one-man bands covered by hype. This is not something you'll hear constantly or among friends, drinking beer, just as it is not the kind of music to be performed live, it has its own purpose and value - a self cult (read the message on booklet) by a experienced musician to be shared with few ones (one press ONLY), without leaving aside the quality, unlike most of the 'restricted' projects.

A path to hell - 80%

PhantomMullet, November 10th, 2011

Varggoth's side project caught my attention because I was always a fan of most of Nokturnal Mortum's work and wanted to see how their members handled different genres and ideas that aren't used by that band. More specifically, MVD's Key to the Gates... album especially intrigued me because it was essentially a single track album spanning over seventy minutes. Based on my experiences with these types of releases, the album could have been either some awesome journey of atmospheric metal with a lot of unexpected twists or an entire hour filled with weird pointless ambient noises. Still, I bought the album because I wanted to know.

It turns out that Key to the Gates....is a very interesting mix of atmospheric "dungeon" metal with cool ambient interludes in between the partitions of metal throughout the album. The music reminds me of a mix between Nokturnal Mortum's "To the Gates..." album and their "Nechrist" album. It has the hellish atmosphere of the former combined with the wishy washy production, but the guitars come in a lot thicker like NeChrist; however, there are no folk elements and so Varggoth takes a more traditional approach in the vein of bands like Gorgoroth and Countess. The sound isn't clear, but is perfectly acceptable for the atmosphere trying to be conveyed. Varggoth uses his higher pitched screaming/singing style (again, like on Nechrist and To the Gates...) as opposed to the singing growls found on albums like Weltenschauung.

You can really break this down into three long metal tracks and four ambient interludes that separate and clinch/begin everything. The metal tracks are all at a moderate to faster pace, but I couldn't tell you much about the riffs; I barely noticed them - not that that's a bad thing. It's just that I was so immersed in the atmosphere that I never really bothered to think about anything else. When I listen to this, I can picture myself in an underground subway right above the gates of hell filled with red lights and random sparks. It makes for somewhat of an industrial setting that gives the music its dungeon feel. The ambient interludes supplement this well. Around the middle of the album, there's a really awesome orchestral piece that sounds absolutely wicked and demented - perfect soundtrack to the fiery depths of hell. It makes the album much more tense in some areas which really contributes more quality. Other ambient interludes remind me of Burzum in that they consist of simple, but curious synths that really make you use your imagination. Transitions aren't the most smooth, but it's never a big deal.

If you despise Varggoth and Nokturnal Mortum, I don't think anything by his side projects that are in some ways similar will make you switch teams. Also, yes, this album is very long. You can't listen to half of it, take a break, and then continue a few days later. I think you'll miss the magic and the "point" of the album. Similarly, you can listen to the whole thing once, but be bored with it on subsequent listens. You're better off listening to the whole thing every once in a while. That way, you'll appreciate it more. As for what the point of this album is, I don't know if there is one answer. I didn't even look at the lyrics either, but I don't think doing so is essential. Whatever it is, it's an intriguing album that makes the listener use their imagination and find that distinct atmosphere and mood. Will this album get you inside the mind of Varggoth or does it do something else? You'll have to listen up and see for yourself.

Dark, epic,philosophical, black metal - 95%

WilliamAcerfeltd, April 20th, 2008

It's always very pretentious when an artist decides to release a one track album, especially one of this length. In fact, this recording is pretty much well known for its length, rather than what can be found on this recording. When you record an album like this, you have confidence in your abilities to record good music. With an album like this, there can only be two results, you fail miserably, or it's a great success, there is no between.
First I'd like to say that this music is nothing like Nokturnal Mortum. So don't be expecting a Nokturnal Mortum album when you listen to this. Varggoth created this band to play a very different style of music and he has.

One particular thing I like about this album is the dark, brooding atmosphere Varggoth creates. The atmosphere is created through ambient noises and interludes. Also the keyboards help a lot here.

The style of this album can be, somewhat slow and monotonous at times, however when it launches into the music it's pretty good. The black metal which is found on this album alternates between fast and slow passages. What I particularly liked about it was the keyboards. They are well played and can make the music quite beautiful at some points. The music is also symphonic at points.

I like the lyrics on this album. They reinforce what KV was going for here. His English was never his strong point but overall he succeeds here. The lyrics are very dark and philosophical in nature. There is a concept behind this album, but it is some what vague and open to interpretation. I'll let you listen to it and make you're own mind up about it.

This album was meant to be the final offering of Mistigo Varggoth Darkestra and be the bands opus magnum. With one dark,epic song of this lenght, it was a stunning success. This is the type of album that you either get, or you don't. If you get it, then it's a very rewarding experience, if you don't, well it's your loss.

Conclusion: The above is recommended for download or purchase.