If we’re being honest, it’s currently not the best of conditions under which to be reviewing Instinctus Bestialis, the latest album from Gorgoroth. Summer has finally remembered Scotland exists (albeit undoubtedly briefly) and something feels wrong about reviewing a black metal band while sitting in shorts and t-shirt on a glorious day, hoping the sun burn fades. It is a metal t-shirt right enough, and I suppose getting burned by a giant ball of fire is pretty metal.. On with the review then.
It’s been six years since we’ve had a new studio album from the band, and it’s the first to feature Atterigner on lead vocals who stepped in 2012 following the departure of Pest. With several albums spread between Pest and Gaahl, the bands former vocalists (not to forget Hat on the original debut), all ears will be focussed in on his work.
With that in mind, we might as well address that first. Atterigner’s vocals are certainly more refined than his predecessor; taking a deeper growl the lyrics are more understandable and there is easy control over his words. He fits with Gorgoroth very naturally; it’s hard to believe this is his first album with the group and I’m fairly confident most Gorgoroth fans will be happy with the difference (though let’s face it, we’re a genre of complainers, a new album never seems to be good until it’s two albums ago. Then it’s underappreciated, then after three albums it’s a classic).
There are eight tracks in all, lasting around thirty to thirty-five minutes. Frankly this is the perfect length for an album like this. They come, do what they have to do and leave. You’ll want more but you don’t get sick of it. It’s very easy to listen to the whole album in one sitting, and because you want more you’ll listen again. By the time the tour comes you’ll be ready to chant along.
Despite the length, it does feel a bit longer than the eight tracks. There are so many riff and pace changes that you sometimes feel you’ve slipped into the next song. From straight up black metal, you find yourself in a slower, sludgy doomy world before snapping back to black metal all in the space of a few minutes. For example, towards the end of Ad omnipotens aeterne diabolus (I had to pick the longest song title for this one, didn’t I), there is a section where I thought I had experienced a flawless track change, ending one on a slow note before kicking in with the blast beasts on the next song, instead it was just more of the same track. Not that that’s a bad thing obviously.
You’ll still be surprised when Awakening comes to an end and with it the album. Fading out on the shortest song of the album, we’re left to reflect on the first (and maybe last?) Gorgoroth album of the 2010s. While it might not be as black metal sounding as previous releases, the death metal undertones do a lot to beef up the groups sound not to mention the stellar production present throughout. Though this could also be where problems may arise for long time fans, gone is the raw sound that was present on Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt in favour of a tighter and cleaner sound, though by no means overly polsihed.
As with any lineup change, there will be fans hesitant to pick up the album for fear of it being shite, it’s happened to us all. In the case of Gorgoroth, their new addition is a winner and the entire album reflects that fact. It’s out now in the shops and is also available on Spotify. If you’re still hesitant, give it a blast on Spotify, then jump to the shops and add another CD to the collection.
Instinctus Bestialis is out now via Soulseller Records