Chris Chellis’ take:
After the dust of a band squabble settles there’s usually an awkward phase wherein all involved sit around playing thumb wars until enough courage is gathered to venture forth into the unknown. Gorgoroth’s Infernus did not sit around. Nor is he venturing into the unknown with the band’s eighth long-player.
Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt (henceforth QPaST) offers more than a familiar voice in Pest. The crystal-clear production and the almost mechanized, busy drums of Tomas Asklund (ex-Dark Funeral) aside, it is not only easy but appropriate to draw a comparison to the last album to feature Pest, Destroyer. From the epic rock meets buzzsaw guitar tone to the charmingly abrasive and chilly vocals, one would never know that 11 years separate the two.
This might explain my enthusiasm for this LP: I never cared more about this band than when March 10, 2009 graced us with the news that King Ov Hell and Gaahl lost their battle for the Gorgoroth name. I would have bought the man of the hour a beer in celebration that night but tickets to Oslo ain’t cheap, and by the time I got there the bar would be closed. This is the album I envisioned that fateful day.
Infernus must be a romantic at heart because deep within the belly of this album is an ugly, fat and deformed worm still feeding off the scrumptious delicacies the days of yore once offered. I wanted an unapologetically scorching and brief album opener, and I got it in “Aneuthanasia.” I wanted a moody, swaying and haunting piece, and I got that one in “Rebirth.” At one point Pest even gurgles, “Rebirth of Goooorgooorooooth,” as if we needed the title spelled out. No need, sir! I wanted a pummeling black ’n roll number, and the gods again appeased me with “New Breed.” Every damn thing I wanted out of this quasi-reunion can be found somewhere within this album’s 35 minutes. Even the length didn’t faze me. No filler!
As carefully calculated as this album must have been, it feels strangely organic. One song ebbs into the other with ease, no matter how different the pace or mood. It’s almost like the Gorgoroth train took a long, weird split a decade ago but found its way to the tracks again. Sure, fun was had in the interim (Satan is a hell of a conductor), but this newly dimly lit cabin is familiar and comfortable to those who dug the ride before it had all the loops, bells and whistles.
Not everyone will don the nearly shit-faced looking grin I sport just writing about it, but I think that’s the point of QPaSt. The tremolo riff-lovers will undoubtedly be heartbroken, Gaahl fanatics will look elsewhere, most likely to whatever becomes of his partnership with King Ov Hell, and those that enjoyed their swansong with the band will miss the more frenetic pace of Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam. Infernus does not care. Nor should he. Considering that these songs were written well before the court ruled in his favor, it is pretty clear that he was intent on dusting off the old time portal, haters and Gaahl sympathizers be damned. Hail to the “New Breed!”
Chris McDonald’s take:
The Gorgoroth controversy has been covered by plenty of sources at this point, so there’s little reason to go back into the details here. Long story short, lone founding member Infernus has emerged on top from that rather embarrassing debacle, and Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt feels not only like a rejuvenating breath for this long-running project, but a defiant and proud statement from its founding creative force and guitarist.
Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt is a bold attempt at a return to the Gorgoroth of old, possibly in an effort to distance the current incarnation of the band from the Gaahl-era. Regardless of the motivation behind Infernus’s approach, as someone who holds this band’s first three albums in high esteem, the results of this outing are obviously highly satisfying. The return of vocalist Pest is obviously noteworthy in this regard, and I’m happy to say that his performance sounds far removed from his weak contributions to the latest Blood Stained Dusk album. His volatile gurgles and growls are ideally structured in the songs, and really strengthen the atmosphere considering the fairly straightforward approach to production and instrumentation shown here.
Musically, Quantos bears similarities to the simplistic black metal template established on the outfit’s early works but shows an increased focus on sound quality and tight musicianship. The short, voracious opener “Aneuthanasia” gets things off to a slightly awkward start with its oddly-timed gait, but “Prayer” opens the album in proper with some well-composed transitions and a heart-tugging arrangement of melodic riffs that sound straight out of Norway circa 1992. From here the band alternates dutifully between grim power and classic Gorgoroth-ian melody. The thrashy intro to “Cleansing Fire” sounds kind of tired, but “Rebirth,” the album’s centerpiece, is particularly strong with a catchy mid-paced melody and some truly chilling vocalizations from Pest. The album rarely breaks into blasting speed (although the beginning to “Satan-Prometheus” is pretty breakneck), which makes it sound distinctive from the band’s recent, higher-velocity exploits. Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt is content to put all of its stake in the riffs themselves as opposed to bombarding the listener with sheer force, so those of you who appreciate this band’s older work should be delighted with this album’s more lenient pacing, while fans more inclined to the Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam era might find these tunes a tad dry in comparison.
Whichever stage of Gorgoroth you happen to favor, there’s no doubt that Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt is a strong return from an outfit many feared would lose their step as a result of all the recent legal disputes. While not as forward thinking or intense as some of Gorgoroth’s recent albums, Quantos delivers both as a fine piece of modern traditional black metal and as an enjoyable homage to the band’s storied history. A pretty nice feat, all things considered.