At the top of the ranks in Norwegian black metal, placeholders include masters like Immortal, Mayhem, Darkthrone, Carpathian Forest, 1349, Dimmu Borgir (yes, I know they’re not pure black metal), Burzum, Satyricon, Taake, and Gorgoroth. Of course, out of all of these, Darkthrone continues to be my favorite alongside Burzum; but that doesn’t mean that Gorgoroth holds no importance in the black metal genre. When asked what my favorite Gorgoroth album is, I can never choose between Destroyer, Incipit Satan, and Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt (I still can never remember that album title). These albums actually differ from each other quite a bit. Destroyer has the typical shitty sound quality, but it’s insane as hell; Incipit Satan has much better quality and still holds the same immense amount of chaos as Destroyer. Quantos has top-notch production quality, is extremely creative and colorful, but it doesn’t have nearly as much power as Gorgoroth’s older material. If you were to lay these three records out in front of me and asked me to listen to them in any order, I would choose Incipit Satan either first or last, depending on if I wanted to have the greatest first or save the best for last.
Like I said before, the sound quality is pretty good, but not what you would see on a major record label nowadays. The drums have a moderately thick sound; not really heavy, but not weak-sounding. This is actually really good because the guitars don’t sound EXTREMELY powerful either with the more clangy distortion, so they would be easily overpowered if the drums were too much. The drums aren’t SUUPER beefy and powerful, but that doesn’t bother me because there’s still more bass than treble in them, so it’s not like they’re lacking anything. So for those of you that don’t like crappy sound quality black metal for that reason, you need not worry about that in this case. You can hear what the bassist is playing, but most of the time you can’t hear his actual guitar.
The first track starts off with an EXPLOSION of pure black metal chaos. When one of my friends told me that Gorgoroth’s music is insane, this song alone proved his statement (although this isn’t my first Gorgoroth album). The song bolts through, seemingly unstoppable until the one minute mark. Right there, everything goes silent and then a buildup of industrial-sounding electronics quickly lead into the next explosion of chaos. Why was that necessary? What was it that made the band say “that five-second part of seemingly pointless electronics is EXACTLY what this song needs!” What’s the goddamn point?? But after that huge and abrupt road bump, the rest of the song quickly and efficiently makes up for that odd part, almost completely pulling it out of the mind of the listener. I’m not kidding, by the time the song was coming to a close, I had become so lost in the song that I had completely forgotten about that meaningless transition!
The album then continues to roll through valleys of satanic darkness and anger and climb summits of melodic ambience that leave the listener’s ears quenched and satisfied. I’m not going to give a song-by-song review because that’s something that I should leave you to find out for yourself.
The vocalist on this album is amazing. He delivers my absolute favorite type of black metal vocals. The kind that are sort of a mix of a whispery, vocal fry type scream that you hear in metalcore and in Naglfar’s material, and that really dirty sound that Abbath has seemed to take credit for. So not screams that are really mid-ranged, but that are high-pitched and REALLY FUCKING POWERFUL! If you have a bunch of Dimmu Borgir material, listen to Enthrone Darkness Triumphant; those are the type of black metal vocals I’m talking about. Even Attera Totus Sanctus by Dark Funeral might be a better example of what my definition of POWER is.
Incipit Satan is an amazing record and can easily be appreciated by the few black metal fans that haven’t already heard it. This album might be a little extreme for the back metal newbies; but if you’re like me and started off with Behemoth, enjoying this album will be a walk in the park. There aren’t very many black metal albums that are as good as Incipit Satan; I would give this album 18/20.