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Review for 'Gorgoroth - Under the Sign of Hell'
Black Metal as we know it wouldn't be the same without the likes of Gorgoroth, and Gorgoroth wouldn't be the same without Under The Sign Of Hell, their most refreshing and robust album to date, with every guitar note, every drum hit, and every word sung on this album just oozing with raw grimness and razor-sharp power, whatever that means! If it's a metaphorical comparison you are looking for, you could say that listening to Under The Sign Of Hell feels like being sent on a short albeit intense journey through hell's freezer. Still don't know what the fuck I'm on about? Well, it's hard to explain really...
There is nothing particularly outstanding about the individual aspects that make up Under The Sign Of Hell, there are no characteristics out of the ordinary that make it that much different to other albums of the genre, but it's just the way it all fits so perfectly together. Take the first song "Revelation Of Doom", for example. There is absolutely nothing remarkable in the slightest when you stop to analize the performances of each individual musician, but it all comes together in such a distinct way, with so much unrefined talent and disregard for peace, that one is simply taken aback.
The first element that stands out on Under The Sign Of Hell is the drumming, performed by none other than the late Erik "Grim" Brødreskift of Immortal and Borknagar fame, and unsurprisingly it suits the album's sound perfectly, as well as being abrasive enough to contribute a great deal to the album's rawness. After letting the powerful drumming sink in, one is greeted by the main driving force behind all of Gorgoroth's albums, Roger "Infernus" Tiegs' legendary guitar-work and songwriting which, as always, is nothing short of stunning and just makes you wonder how he has been able to write some of the genres most memorable and creative songs so consistently for more than two decades. Finally, the finishing touch that gives Under The Sign Of Hell it's ice-cold and hellish atmosphere are Thomas "Pest" Kronenes' spine-chilling vocals, proving once again why he is one of the best Black Metal vocalists out there, although his work can really only be appreciated within the confines of a Gorgoroth album in conjunction with Infernus's amazing songwriting abilities.
As is the case with many of the albums present on our Top 100 Black Metal Albums list, not only does Under The Sign Of Hell give off a particular vibe as a whole that joins the album together giving it it's own unique identity that sets it apart from the crowd, but it is also composed of individually excellent songs from start to finish that are all raw, powerful and easily recognizable from the first listen onwards.
Fans of Norwegian Black Metal trivia will be pleased know that Under The Sign Of Hell was recorded in the spring of 1996 at the Grieghallen Studios in Bergen, Norway, where Gorgoroth's first two albums, Pentagram and Antichrist, were also recorded previously in 1994 and 1995 respectively. It is also worth mentioning that a large amount of landmark Black Metal albums by some of Norway's most legendary Black Metal bands have also been recorded at the Grieghallen Studios, including such classics as Mayhem's' De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, Burzum's Hvis Lyset Tar Oss, Emperor's In The Nightside Eclipse and Immortal's Pure Holocaust to name a few.
More than 15 years down the road, Gorgoroth's Under The Sign Of Hell still remains one of the finest Norwegian Black Metal albums ever released, and that fact alone should tell you all you really need to know. But a word of warning: Avoid their latest re-recording of Under The Sign Of Hell from 2011, make sure you get the 1996 version!
What other albums sound similar to this?
You'll be pleased to know that the excellent brand of Black Metal presented on Gorgoroth's Under The Sign Of Hell isn't confined to this album alone. In fact, almost all of Gorgoroth's work follows the same formula. On Gorgoroth's first two albums, Pentagram and Antichrist, you can notice a more typical Black Metal sound influenced in part by their Norwegian peers, while on later albums they began defining their own particular approach to Black Metal as can be noticed on Destroyer, Incipit Satan and more recently Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt, where you can appreciate Gorgoroth's trademark characteristics and main driving force: Infernus' genius guitar riffs and songwriting combined with piercing vocals provided by either Hat (1992-1995), Gaahl (1998-2007), or Pest (1995-1997, 2008-present).
If you want to check out other bands with similar sounding albums to Gorgoroth's Under The Sign Of Hell, we highly recommend fellow Norwegian band 1349, specifically their Hellfire and Liberation albums.
In a nutshell...
Gorgoroth's Under The Sign Of Hell is one of the most refreshingly straight-forward Black Metal albums ever made, being both raw as fuck and melodic at the same time in typical Gorgoroth fashion, with some killer guitar riffs by Infernus who always delivers, and a more than impressive vocal performance by Pest that all add perfectly to the whole sound. If you thought that maybe Darkthrone's Transilvanian Hunger was missing a certain something, then look no further than Under The Sign Of Hell. True Norwegian Black Metal.
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