1. Wound Upon Wound
2. Carving a Giant
3. God Seed (Twilight of the Idols)
4. Sign of an Open Eye
5. White Seed
7. Untamed Forces
8. Prosperity and Beauty
2006 Candlelight Records
In the turbulent history of black metal, there have been only a handful of bands since its inception that have lasted through the trends and continued to make an impact creatively and musically while other bands fell by the wayside or ended up with their shirts in the all too grim chain of Hot Topic. This small group of bands has easily identifiable names: Immortal, Emperor, Darkthrone, Mayhem. They all came from the same scene in Norway, and were all part of the first wave of what we now think of as black metal. One name that is usually absent from that group but that needs to be included for all of the above reasons is Gorgoroth. Despite problems with band personnel and media mishaps, Gorgoroth have reliably put out good album after good album that not only stays true to what black metal is intended to be, but that also retains a sense of progression.
The fact that Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam was ever created was a miracle. Vocalist Gaahl was having legal problems (currently in jail), as was guitarist and only original member Infernus (for a different set of charges). Frost from 1349 and Satyricon had to be brought in as a session member for the vacant drum position, and bassist King (who is now an ex-member of the band) was busy juggling other musical endeavors such as Sahg and Audrey Horne. What is even more remarkable is that while Gorgoroth hung together by the thinnest of threads for the recording of this newest offering, the final product is one of the greatest creative accomplishments the band has ever produced.
While Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam is without a doubt a black metal record in spirit, the album is also a phenomenal display of metal in general that will appeal to fans all over the world with wildly disparate tastes. In other words, the tone and atmosphere of the album fit well within what could be considered orthodox black metal, yet it's accessible to various listeners in terms of both songwriting and production. Plenty of moments on the album are just plain catchy. Riffs effortlessly become stuck in the listener's head after only one spin.
Arguably the most outstanding aspect of the record is the songwriting. Picking up from where its recent predecessors Twilight of the Idols and Incipit Satan left off, the songs on Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam sound more matured, full, and expansive. It is abundantly clear that the musicians in Gorgoroth have completely mastered their craft, as every song on here is not only distinct in its own right, but that they have a similar quality of perfectly applied wisdom and experience. From the ferocious blasting of the opening track to the serene, epic riffs of the closing track, the songs are structured so that no riff or phrase is repeated too often nor played too short, alternating between blazingly fast and ploddingly slow, loud and explosive to quiet and contemplative. This all allows the album to have a wonderful pace and make a concise collective statement.
Bottom Line: Gorgoroth is and always has been a forceful entity in black metal whether they are always acknowledged or not. This is undeniably proven with Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam. However, metal fans of all types will be able to look upon this release with equal astonishment. Hopefully Gorgoroth will continue to be a creative force in the future, despite external problems affecting the band, and continue to put out records as spectacular as this.