GORGOROTH. Lauded by some, lambasted by others. One thing they stand for is consistency, listen to “Pentagram” and then the latest “Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam” and though they are worlds apart, the underlying vein that identifies a GORGOROTH release is there. What can also be relied upon is the quality of the music therein, so that even at their worst, there is still plenty of uncompromising Black Metal to mine.
“Antichrist,” being the bands second album proper, follows the trait of the others in that its brevity leaves you wanting more. Given its sub half hour length, “Antichrist” can't afford to include any lemons and thankfully every track here is a grim delight and each has its own nuances as well. Shrouded in shadows cast by barriers to light, here GORGOROTH grit their teeth to offer up stark panoramas captured in sepia tones rather than featureless monochrome.
The first track needs no translation for English speakers, the title more than hinting at the contempt gurgled from the vocalists throat on the following track. Of which, the minute the cascade of riffs spill down, you know what band this is, it is a signature in blood that many GORGOROTH tracks have scrawled across them. The fire and ice of the six strings nips at your extremities, so keep your todger safely tucked away chaps. Freezing rain falling vertically from a dark sky that mocks the weak sun it obscures, I personally find this bands atmospherics more evocative than many of the more exalted names from that part of the world at that time. Practicing what I preach, GORGOROTH albums sully my stereo far more than other notables from the same spawning.
What follows is another of the bands contrivances, that is a twisted black religious dirge emphasised by doleful bass tones and pious clean singing. Whilst it's predecessor gallops along, “Gorgoroth” starts off at a restrained pace before ending by picking up the pace for a dash to the finish, the whole embellished by some church mocking melody. Further demonstrating their knack for variety of dynamique, “Possessed (By Satan)” stomps along, thanks to the thump of the bass drum. The minimalist riffing that underscores the sneering croak of the vocals remains steadfast until you hit that GORGOROTH gallop again whereupon you are graced with a fuller body that retains it's bleak countenance.
“Heavens Fall” reintroduces the sleet that stings the flesh, fooling the body into mistaking it for warmth. Again simple structure ensures purity of purpose, to the extent that there are no vocals at all apart from a momentary exclamation some way through. And so to the dismal lament from the pit that is “Sorg.” I am not one for funereal paced Black Metal but there are always exceptions and this band are one of a very few that can stop me pressing the skip button. Mournful creep attempts to wither the trollish vocals, whilst the lead refrains present that solemnity that you would expect in some place of blasphemy. The re-emergence of the spookily soulful clean singing futilely lifts the moment from the corrupted murk that writhes around it, ending the song with something of a question that remains unanswered.
Throughout each of GORGOROTH's incarnations they have maintained the same austerity that ensures that however they present their work, it is unmistakably them. “Antichrist” is a cornerstone along with the album before and after that underpins their approach to making top order Black Metal that has not pandered to trend and remains resolutely militant despite experimentation (not all of which I have appreciated - “Incipit Satan”) Very often when you listen to a long established band and then begin to explore their back catalogue you are left disappointed. There is no danger of that with any of the band's first works, so if you haven't got it, get it. (Online August 14, 2006)