Gorgoroth

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When founding Gorgoroth guitarist Infernus was sent to jail, his lead singer and bassist, Gaahl and King ov Hell, tried to wrest control of the band from him in court. They lost. Now he's out, and Gorgoroth is back with an entirely new lineup featuring Infernus, the band's pre-Gaahl vocalist PeSt, bassist Frank Watkins of Obituary (now going by the "black metal" name Bøddel), and drummer Tomas Asklund of Swedish death metal legends Dissection. Gorgoroth's brand of black metal has often been midtempo, preferring a deathlike rumble to the genre's old-school, head-long sprints. The guitar tones are trebly and razor sharp, of course, but there's a surprising amount of bass and fullness to the mix, and Asklund's drumming is rocksteady and powerful. Pest, who "sang" on the band's classic early albums Antichrist and Under the Sign of Hell, has exactly the kind of voice black metal diehards love -- which is to say, he sounds like he's just crawled out of his own grave and is still coughing up maggots and hunks of dirt. Track titles like "Cleansing Fire," "Human Sacrifice," and "Satan Prometheus" may seem to tell the tale here, but other songs like "Rebirth," "Building a Man," and "New Breed" reveal that beneath the genre's put-on nihilism, Infernus is happy and proud to have his band back. This is an album of anthems, whether it's the slow march of "Rebirth," the fist-pumping rock (seriously) of "New Breed," or the almost punk simplicity of the intro to "Cleansing Fire." Gorgoroth have always been a surprisingly varied band, and this is not only a comeback, but one of their most enjoyable albums to date.

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