Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam

Candlelight 2006

There was a time around Under the Sign of Hell when Gorgoroth was my second favorite band.  They had lain a solid foundation with Pentagram and Antichrist.  But then something started happening around Destroyer.  The quality of the material started to drop off and was absolutely abysmal on Incipit Satan.  Twilight of the Idols was a step back in the right direction but the album was not solid as a whole.  Which brings us to Ad Majorem, and the issue of how does it stand both on its own and in respect to Gorgoroth's back catalogue.  In both respects it holds its own fairly well.    It is light years ahead of the last tow Gorgoroth ventures though not to the peak they accomplished in their early years.  It also is a pretty damn good slab of modern Norwegian coldness.  God Seed (Twilight of the Idols) is a classic example of True Norwegian Black Metal as it alternates between midtempo aggression and faster haunting riffs that swat to and fro like trees bending under the might of a forceful gale.  Exit is a raging inferno of speed and a whirlwind of those characteristic Norwegian disharmonic black metal riffs.  Untamed Forces picks up a similar thread of forceful hatred but is adorned with nearly death metal vocals and the occasional respite from the unrelenting bludgeoning.  But my favorite song is Prosperity and Beauty with its epic majesty captured within soaring riffs that trill with northern malevolence and frigid coldness.  It also must be said that I have never liked Gaahl's vocals.  Something about them has always sounded weird to me about them.  But on Ad Majorem he finally delivers for me with his most brutal and dark performance of his career.  Frost's drumming is spot on falling somewhere between the restrained blandness of the new Satyricon and the all out blasting technical mayhem of 1349's Hellfire.  I echo the comments that many critics have already uttered, Gorgoroth has returned to its rightful place amongst the Norwegian elite with this Ad Majorem.