Black metal doesn't get any more dyed in the wool than Gorgoroth. Incipit Sathanas is a blast of prime evil that recalls the glory days when Bathory and Mayhem were busy conspiring to turn all of Scandinavia into an outpost of Hades. Flaunting the par-for-the-course Nietzsche influences on their chain mail-clad sleeves (the German philosopher is thanked in the credits, along with Burzum and Baudelaire), Gorgoroth kicks up a racket like hell on steel wheels. They trade primarily in ferocity, not speed. That said, the title track, which opens the album, erupts with a thundering drum-and-guitar blast so elemental it peels the skin from your face. Vocalist Gaahl can shriek like a harpy and growl like Satan with a head cold, and often he can do both at the same time. The thing about Incipit Satan is that it has plenty of variety, if not subtlety or much technical prowess -- Gorgoroth can rage and storm with enormous power and they can turn around and get broody and unsettling. "When Love Rages Wild in My Heart," for instance, starts off sounding like Type O Negative meets Wagner by way of Rammstein, and then takes a turn into a darker place where backwards vocals writhe against a background of detuned ambient noise. "Unchain My Heart!!!" -- not a cover of the Righteous Brothers' song in case you were worried -- is again full of psychotic changes of pace and bloodcurdling vocals and is, perhaps, Gaahl's finest moment on the album. Occasionally Gorgoroth gets the balance wrong, like on "Litani Til Satan," a monochromatic, quasi-ambient dirge with vaguely necro-sounding chanted vocals that gets boring in a hurry. But for the most part, Incipit Satan is both terrific and terrifying. Turn it up to 11 and prepare to die.
AllMusic Review by Leslie Mathew