Gorgoroth – Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (2006) Album Review

Black Metal. Indeed a genre that does not have a good reputation. Fact is that the mark of ostracizing in big amounts came from this metal genre, a genre that not only manifested its violent tendencies through lyrical content, concept or instrumental, but outside the musical world as well. Partly, band members were involved, we have the infamous church burnings from Norway from early to mid 90s, we have crimes, murders even conflicts between the Swedish death metal scene and the Norwegian black metal scene. Another thing that made this genre infamous is the persistent usage of satanism and anti-christianity in concept, some of them embracing a modern kind of Satanism (claiming that Satan is not an existence but rather a rebellion, a way to reach freedom and also a philosophy) others, which are rare, embrace the Theistic Satanism, which worships Satan as an existent entity.

Remember my old review about Gorgoroth‘s 5th album Incipit Satan? Well, things are a little bit different with Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (which roughly translated as For The Greater Glory Of Satan), both in musical composition and in atmosphere. Twilight Of The Idols, the previous album, featured some thrash metal elements in its composition, an influence that gave more aggression to Gorgoroth’s music but somehow turned to be monotone and boring, considering the fact that Gorgoroth never was a band that would release an album with an impressive length (hardly going over 40 minutes in length). I always found it hard to label their records as albums, not to mention full length albums. Basically, an album, in my opinion should contain about 45 to 60+ minutes of music divided into tracks, however, none of their albums even reached a praise-worthy length. Nonetheless, this is not an album that could stand as an obstacle to receiving a good quality album. They proved it that with good musicianship and with a lot of perseverance, you can release good albums, such was the release of their third album Under The Sign Of Hell and also the fifth album Incipit Satan and the following one Twilight Of The Idols. The question that governs this new record is: Will this one exceed or reach the level of their older works? Guess we will find out at the end of the review.

For starters, we find a new Gorgoroth in this album, even though there aren’t many changes in their line-up like in their older days. I don’t know from where this change came from, or if it was just natural, however, I suspect that the events that took place in between the release of their last two albums (Twilight of the Idols and Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam), the band went through a lot of media attention and public controversy with the recording of an infamous DVD entitled Black Mass Krakow, the usage of satanic elements (models crucified, sheep heads on sticks, a true bloodbath on stage) in a catholic country was not well received by the public (especially since Poland tends to overreact influence by the people that blindly follow this criminal cult).

Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam completely removes the thrash metal elements featured on the previous records and replaces it with a dark ambient aspect, giving much more depth and darkness to this record. We have songs that can even get catchy at the beginning such as Carving a Giant, song that slows as it progresses to the end. You feel emptiness while listening this record, given by the hypnotic guitar work made by Infernus and a much more impressive bass performance given by King, who shines on this album. This happen mainly because King was responsible for music composition on this album, which allowed him to experiment with some old school black metal sound (specific in Mayhem‘s De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas). The drumming work is another part that can be considered as perfect, actually, you have Frost (Satyricon) doing the drum work, so you cannot expect from him a poor performance, after all he is probably in top 3 best black metal drummers of all time (though I tend to give more credits to Mayhem‘s Hellhammer, that guy is unstopable). Ghaal shows that a black metal vocalist is not only about screaming, grunting or growling but he can do pretty low vocals as well, specific in songs such as Sign Of An Open Eye. Rawness still exists in this album as well, but this time, this is given by black metal and only black metal, with blast drum beats fast tremolo guitar picks accompanied by Gaahl’s sinister voice, audible in songs such as Wound Upon Wound, the introductory song of this album, God Seed and Untamed Forces, some songs that will delight the ears of every black metal lover.

Gaahl once again proves that he can rise barriers between himself and other vocalists. His voice is not constant like other vocal performances (lets say, Satyr‘s) probably the only man that could leave him in the shadow is Attila Csihar, who has a more mysterious and much more impressive vocal work, at least on studio albums, live he does not shine as good as on CD. Gaahl is the man that contributed with his vocals on 3 out of 8 of Gorgoroth’s albums (not counting the re-recoding of their third album, which sucks badly) standing on par with Pest, former vocalist on Under The Sign of Hell and Destroyer, currently, the actual vocalist of this group.

Don’t get me wrong, time did not tame these blasphemous and relentless musicians. Gorgoroth remained true to their roots, to their beliefs and to their concepts as well, not escaping from their satanic view of black metal and they still continue to improve it, album after album. I sincerely hope that Infernus won’t get into anymore shit, because this band slowed the recording process of their albums after 2000 because of unfortunate accidents, some of them were not caused by the band while others were caused by them. Seeing that a lot of important second wave black metal bands halted their recording process (Mayhem, Carpathian Forest, Satyricon, Gehenna, Thorns) while others changed their musical orientation (Ulver, Abruptum), Gorgoroth stands as probably the most active second wave black metal pioneer and the one of the frontrunners of this movement.

If you want a raw yet elegant record, look no further, just pick up Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam, you will be delighted to hear both rough and catchy songs. It is hard for me to give to this album a full score, since you can barely name it an album with such a short length. Even though the musicians clearly proved their worth and skills on this album, the fact remains that they need to send quantity as well accompanied with the same quality that we expect from a Gorgoroth album. Now, let me answer the question, in a way, Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam fights on par with the previous releases, however when I listen a black metal record I expect the songs to be rough and evil from the beginning until the end, which I cannot say the same thing with this record, which tends to loose some tempos as it gets near the end. Nonetheless, it is a good album, the last album featuring King and Gaahl as part of Gorgoroth, a good parting album so to say. Old fans of Gorgoroth will find in this album a delight, while new fans that enjoy extreme black metal will also find an interest in it, just give it a listen, it won’t bite, I promise.

Overall Impression: 85/100