The Devil is Calling Indeed
|4.4 (2 votes):|
The Norwegian black metal scene has been covered with a certain obscure robe full of controversy due to the happenings (during the ’90s, church burnings, murders, etc.) we all know about those and I will not unearth them in this review. A mysterious and cryptic gimmick that ended up with books and shitty movies about soap operas that made me walk away from this scene per se. Fortunately, not everything about the Norwegian black metal scene was spoiled with bullshit, many other bands like Urgehal, Tsjuder, and Gorgoroth (there was also some controversy with Gaahl coming out of the closet and trying to kick out Infernus from the band) demonstrated through their careers that black metal is a merciless force to take seriously; without gimmicks or commercial maneuvers. That’s why we are gathered here metal brothers to talk about an album that, in my opinion, is the proof that rawness and aggression are still adjectives to describe black metal.
Under the sign of hell was Gorgoroth‘s third full length after some praised releases like their demo “A Sorcery Written in Blood”. Gorgoroth has always been a very “simple” band in the sense that they have never shown high production values or over technique when they execute their instruments. Let’s say that they want to transmit the most primitive and raw nature of their music. However, don’t be fooled by the meaning of the word “simple”! Under the sign of hell is not simple in an amateur or naive way, these demons play their instruments with such hateful commitment that all songs are memorable, there are no fillers in this album. There is a certain feeling of primitiveness, though, not in the Transilvanian Hunger tradition; this record sounds more menacing and obscure.
For instance, Grim pounds the drums like he is hammering the nails of Jesus in the cross, it is total destruction of cymbals and snares. It’s a pity he died shortly after, would have been interesting to listen to more records with Erik on drums. Pest vomits the most disgusting black metal vocals I have heard, is a weird range because he doesn´t deliver too high-pitched shrieks but instead, his vocals are layered and “clean” in some songs like “Profetens Apenbaring”, very primitive and evocative harsh singing. Infernus, the founding member and ministry of Satan, is in charge of the guitars and bass department for this record. His riffs are sharpened and raw throughout the whole invocation, there is no room for melody in this volcanic inferno. By the way, I mention the adjective volcanic inferno, not to flourish my review but because that’s how I feel when I listen to Under the sign of hell. For instance, most reviews on bands like Immortal describe their music as evocative for winter and frozen landscapes but in this case, Gorgoroth conjures lava and infernal fire in each song. Examples can be found on tracks like “Krig” and “The Rite of Infernal Invocation”. Most songs are fast-paced and merciless assaults but there is one in special that changes gear into a slower summoning. I’m talking about “The Devil is Calling”, the tune that closes the album. This song is a more rhythmic yet evil and nasty approach.
Al in all, Under the Sign of Hell stands out for its uncompromising violence and raw nature that vindicates the black metal sound into a menacing status, no gimmicks, no fashion, and no melody; just infernal noise. However, the band seemed to ruin the legacy of the record when they released the 2011 pussy version and I don’t really understand why they did that. Nonetheless, we have the 97 version, a testament of true chaotic black metal.
Release date: October 20th, 1997
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