With all the drama that’s been surrounding this band for a good few years now, it’s hard to imagine anyone going into “Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt” not armed with a healthy dose of varying preconceptions, with many either hoping for this album to succeed or to fall flat on its corpsepainted face. I find myself somewhere in the middle here in that I respect the band’s early material but also being of the opinion that Gaahl/King were by far better songwriters than the po-faced Infernus, with “Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam” being my personal favourite ‘ROTH album by far.
With Infernus again being in full charge of the band it actually turned out exactly how I had expected it to, that being “Under The Sign Of Hell” part deuce. Everything on here is pretty much cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned album, from the simplistic treble-laden riffs to the croaky vocals to the raw but clear sound. It’s a pretty ‘safe’ GORGOROTH album, then, but where it diverges a lot from the band’s past output is in the speed department. Instead of their usual rapid-fire approach large portions of the album is actually very slow, almost Doom-like Black Metal malevolence, something I had not expected from the Norwegians at all. After the brisk but intense “Aneuthanasia” the down-tempo approach kicks into gear on the next three tracks with “Rebirth” and perhaps being the best, fully benefitting from truly sorrowful chord work and Pest’s trademark rasps. Most of the album follows suit – slow and quite introspective – with tracks like the “Reinkaos”-like melodic Death elements of “New Breed” and the clean vocal inflections of “Satan-Prometheus” providing something in the way of variety and subtle playfulness.
“Quantos...” is essentially a solid GORGOROTH album on all fronts and it does have a tangible ‘old school’ feel to it that will surely please fans of the band’s early albums, but the album suffers from a lack of any true standout moments. There are no real peaks on here. Infernus clearly set out to consolidate rather than revolutionize (or energize, for that matter), and as such the album comes off as a rather middling affair. Gaahl’s versatile vocal approach is also sorely missed, which, coupled with the too-straightforward-for-its-own-good guitar work, ensures that this is the dictionary definition of decent but ultimately unspectacular Black Metal. I’m sorry but after all the drama of the preceding few years this band really owed it to both themselves as well as the fans to make a more forceful comeback.
Oh, and can someone please explain to me just how the hell OBITUARY’s Frank Watkins ended up on here?
(Online November 25, 2009)