Gorgoroth - Black Mass Krakow - (8/10)
Published on August 9, 2008
Gorgoroth have always been the subject of controversies, and it came as no surprise that their concert in Krakow the 1stof February 2004 went down in black metal history when the band were convicted of blasphemy in the pope’s own city. It doesn’t really matter if you see the band as an extremely gimmicky marketing-machine or as dedicated to a greater cause, the point still stands that Gaahl and Infernus are masters of provocation and of shrouding themselves in mystery. It also probably won’t be a shock to anyone that the recordings of the infamous show (that was somehow recovered from the Polish police) is filled with sheep heads on spikes, naked crucified models, and an abundance of other sacrilegious imagery. In other words, Black Mass Krakow is everything the dedicated black metal acolyte could ever dream of, and captures the essence of the ritual that is a Gorgoroth performance perfectly.
Instead of cruising along on the blastwave of their newest release, Gorgoroth have always been good at balancing their live sets with material from most of their catalogue. Luckily the Krakow set is no exception, as they pull out old favorites like “Possessed (By Satan)” and “Bergtrollets Hevn” from Antichrist and five tracks from Under The Sign Of Hell, as well as the more recent “Procreating Satan” and “Of Ice And Movement”. For some reason they keep leaving out their debut full-length Pentagram from their sets, which is unfortunate seeing as it would be great to hear “Katharinas Bortgang“ or “Måneskyggens Slave“ dressed up in a live coat. Still, there is something here for everyone, even though the 55-minutes long set could have been extended to two hours of crushing antichristian black metal.
The main exhibit of a Gorgoroth show will for many be Gaahl, and even if you hate the man it’s hard to deny that he’s quite a unique character. While other vocalists are usually busy headbanging or making gestures at the audience when they’re not screaming into the microphone, Gaahl stands totally still and stares into the empty air. Even though it can be entertaining to see someone like Bruce Dickinson running around on stage and encouraging his myriads of fans to sing along, there is undoubtedly something far more powerful and disturbing about seeing this tall corpsepainted figure observing his flock of sheep with a mix of disgust and maliciousness, and he must be the only frontman in metal who’s capable of dominating an entire venue using only with his cold stare. Meanwhile Infernus and King are giving their everything, while hired hands Apollyon and Kvitrafn stays in the background.
The most appealing part of Black Mass Krakow is how surprisingly professional everything is, especially when compared to many other recorded black metal concerts. The stage crew haven’t been holding back on anything, including the aforementioned sheep-heads and crucified people, but also a blistering pyro-show, which takes a turn for the unintentionally comical when sparks come flying like it’s the 4thof July. The sound and camera set-up is impressive, and allows you to see and hear everything going on at the stage clearly at all times. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the extra-material, which consists of a measly two bootlegged videos from a Leipzig show, filmed from the back of the audience with a cheap camera, and both of the songs (“Destroyer” and “Incipit Satan”) are also part of the main feature. Coupled with the rather short running time and the fact that the rest of the bonus material consists of things like biographies and a discography, both of which can be read for free at the band’s website, the release of this DVD feels rushed and not worth the price-tag of a full DVD. That’s a damn shame too, since if this was fleshed out with more content I would easily have given Black Mass Krakow a 9/10 score, but the excellent footage doesn’t quite make up for the disappointing lack of content.
In closing it should be said that this is a fantastic capture of the raw emotion in a Gorgoroth gig, and is a treat for anyone who haven’t seen them live, or for those who have and want to re-live the experience. Just make sure it doesn’t cost you an arm and a leg, since you’re going to feel cheated when you discover that you’ve seen everything on the disc after about 70 minutes.