Prison, anyone? Hey, just be glad that you're getting album number seven from one of Norway's finest black metal exports. Nicely textured and more varied than the average black metal release, "Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam" is another Satanic fist in the face of your god. With the inhuman Frost (SATYRICON, 1349) enlisted for drum duties, GORGOROTH proves once again that they offer the listener something that's missing from many black metal releases: muscle. The album is muscular without being wound too tight, if that makes any sense at all. There is a weight to the band's compositions that screams "power!" That and an uncanny ability to create a horrifically evil atmosphere, even amidst blinding speed and brutality, is not the kind of thing that one manufactures; it comes straight from the blackest of souls.
Is it original? Shit no, but these eight compositions are the real deal, folks, and GORGOROTH still does it better than most. Charging out of the gates of Hell, "Wound Upon Wound" serves as a fine opener. Blasting ferocity morphs into a reckless gallop, and those downshifts in pace just plain smolder, reeking of all that is pestilent. Up next is perhaps the album's standout track. "Carving a Giant" is eerie as hell; its mix of doomy, mid-tempo churn and raging black metal splendidly captures the nefarious ambience and fury of GORGOROTH. More pummeling madness and signature black metal guitar harmonies define "God Seed (Twilight of the Idols)" and the somewhat epic-sounding "Prosperity and Beauty", the latter featuring an especially spine-tingling pace change into mid-tempo crunch. While "White Seed", "Exit", and the perilous "Untamed Forces" demonstrate the aforementioned havoc-with-atmosphere style, "Sign of an Open Eye" stands out for the images it conjures: a journey through dark, snow covered forests. A mournful lead guitar line rides over a steady beat and chugging riff, as croaked vocals hang in the air like mist.
At 31 minutes, an album like this "Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam" is a bit on the short side, only because…well…it just feels like it could use another song or two. But that's just me. On the other hand, it's hard to complain about a half-hour of shrapnel blasts and body blows. Forget about forging new paths of destruction; GORGOROTH has nothing to prove at this point in its career. Continuing such a proud legacy of savage blasphemy is all that is required.