In the middle of the swirl of seething, coiled-spring menace that makes up the 6:32 running time of ‘Rebirth’, returning vocalist Pest croaks ‘Rebirth of Gorgoroth!’. It’s pretty clear that guitarist/band leader Infernus has no illusions as to what this record means for the future of the group – after legal wranglings over the rights to the band name with former vocalist Gaahl and former bassist King Ov Hell, Infernus has set out with Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt to take the black metal legends to the next level.
If you’re a long-time Gorgoroth fan, you’ll recognise the essential sound of Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt – it’s a return to the style the band had on their first three albums, rather than the markedly more frenzied, aggressive beast they became in more recent years. Sure, the odd blast-beat still crops up – most notably in ‘Building A Man’, a track characterised by its straining-at-the-leash harmonic tremolo-picking and furious pacing – but on the whole, Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt is a more measured affair, dealing in mid-to-down-tempo tracks that build up a sinister atmosphere before exploding into more velocitous, aggressive sections. Infernus even makes the time for some epicness, such as Pest’s choral moaning over howling, wind-tunnel riffage and relentless double-kick drumming during album highlight ‘Satan-Prometheus’.
The production of this album, too, marks a turnaround from the production values of ‘old’ Gorgoroth – the sound on this disc is a very clean, modern one, emphasising the biting treble of the riffage, Pest’s reptilian croak and the cold precision of former Dark Funeral drummer Tomas Asklund’s skin-bashing. Sadly, the mid-range is left somewhat underrepresented, meaning Obituary bassist Frank Watkins (here going by the name of Boddel, which means Executioner in Norwegian, incidentally a word very close to the name Obituary used to go by) has his contributions left fairly inaudible.
So, the bottom line – does Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt set up an exciting new chapter for the band, or is it the last dying gasp of a wounded animal? Well, if you’re a fan of Gorgoroth‘s first three full-lengths, you’ll definitely get a kick out of this one. The compositions are varied and interesting, the riffage is intricate and attention-grabbing, and the atmosphere conjured overall is one of grim determination. The production might put some more traditional black metal purists off, but overall Infernus has proved that the departure of Gaahl and King Ov Hell was a step necessary for Gorgoroth‘s survival and continued relevance in the black metal world.