Pentagram, Antichrist, Under the Sign of Hell Re-Issues

Some twenty years ago I was at a Motorhead show when Lemmy stopped the band in the middle of a song. They were playing “Overkill” and had just finished the lengthy opening instrumental part when Lemmy exclaims “that came out great, let’s do it again” so they started the song over and played it through to the end. That is just what Gorgoroth did on Pentagram, only they didn’t write the original, they just played it again, perfectly. And then they gave it a new name and played it again, and again. In the end they had created three near perfect true black albums any imitator would be envious of.

Better than a decade later I still regularly listen to these three Gorgoroth disc yet I almost never listen to Emperor, Immortal, Darkthrone, Satyricon, etc. of the same era. In fact, only Enslaved gets more air time of the Norwegian bands and if you factor in the Swedes, only Marduk. Gorgoroth is also every bit Marduk’s equal when it comes to genuine antichristian hatred. Even though musically they are quite different I have always thought of Gorgoroth as the Norwegian Marduk because of their shared convictions, neither band has softened their stance and both are sincere.

When Gorgoroth first started the second wave was at its full height and not yet swamped with the thousands of imitators. Gorgoroth is not a true second wave band, but they got their start imitating before the metal world at large new there was even a second wave so in retrospect they deserve to be considered one of the founders of True Norwegian. Regain records has decided to reissue the three classic Gorgoroth discs, as if there is anyone out there that does not own them already. Gorgoroth’s recent history has made them almost as well known as Cradle of Filth, but I wonder how many of the legions of curiosity seekers actually listen to the early discs.

I jumped on board with Gorgoroth relatively late, in 1996, when I ordered both Antichrist and the Pentagram reissue direct from Malicious Records. My copy of Pentagram came with the inlay card from Antichrist, so this Regain reissue is the first time I am seeing the back cover photos of Hat and Infernus, though I am not sure these were the original photos because of the many other layout changes on the new versions, such as enlarging the Gorgoroth logo on Pentagram and reducing the booklet to just a double sided card. Antichrist gets the more familiar Gorgoroth typeface both on the logo and on “True Norwegian Black Metal” as well as losing the apostrophe s. The booklet is also cut to just a double sided card, yet the booklet to Under The Sign of Hell is not trimmed in length, anyway, you get the idea, not exact copies.

Musically, however, there is nothing new, no rare tracks, bonus live tracks, unreleased or demo tracks added. Some changes have been made, however, like chopping two minutes of the ambient noise ending off of “The Rite Of Infernal Invocation”, and taking the opening howling wind effect from “Gorgoroth” and adding it to the end of “Bergtrollets Hevn” instead.

In my mind Hat is one of the top black metal vocalists ever and I have often lamented the loss of the high-pitched screams by other bands. Not many others could execute as well and it hardly mattered that his words were utterly incomprehensible. His voice is just as important to the atmosphere of Pentagram and Antichrist as the minimalist riffing and blastbeats. Pest does an admirable job with the vocals as well, sharing duties on Antichrist and performing solo on Under The Sign of Hell. Classic songs are too many to list. The cover of Antichrist proclaims true Norwegian black metal and Infernus certainly lives up to the billing. If you don’t have the originals quickly running out and buying these reissues can lessen your everlasting shame.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Grimulfr
February 11th, 2008


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