Gorgoroth – Instinctus Bestialis (2015)

Article by Anton Rudrick.

One clear sign that a band’s direction is compromised can be seen through unity of style. In this case, we see Gorgoroth lacking a clear voice of their own, in place of which Instinctus Bestialis offers three main ways of constructing sections and a rather pop-oriented way of building whole songs. The first is a bare bones neoclassical melodic method using two guitars, which is an interesting addition to traditionally more modal and harmonically chromatic genres such as death and black metal. Due to the foreign nature of these, the incorporation can be quite delicate and ought to be treated with the utmost care. The second is a collection of standard modern metal tropes ranging from the rhythmic intonations of deathcore with a low-string chug riff, probably inherited from the most prosaic speed metal. Last is the most important of the three in a rather unexpected choice in anthemic heavy metal, which happens to be the customary choice for commercial metal acts which have become barren of inspiration and direction.

Surprisingly, even though this is supposed to be a black metal project, it is only so in name and appearance, while the aesthetics of this music do not seem to reveal even vestiges of what could be considered black metal. While Pentagram showed the world a nascent evil being born through taking rock methodology to its extremes to create a dexterous ambient music, and Antichrist further differentiated and expanded that approach into new forms of outwardly simple yet nuanced meaning in context, Instinctus Bestialis sees the complete collapse of that pubescent genius in an uneventful implosion as a center which has become empty cannot withstand the careless addition of more surface pre-tension. It would also appear that the first choice in purely aesthetic inspiration (rather than an ideological or spiritual one) was in that neoclassic interplay of guitars, but having no vision, only a handful of disconnected riffs in this style were spread throughout the album at random.

It seems appropriate to mention here that there was an actual black metal album that took the promise of this neoclassical melodic idea for the development of the character of the work. This was the theatric and densely populated Supreme Immortal Art by Abigor. The main difference lies not at the surface only, with how the melodies are presented, but the underlying construction and overarching concept in realization of the oeuvre. On the surface level, Abigor manages to makes turn the style of the neoclassical melodies into its own, instead of simply appropriating scale runs, which is the case with Gorgoroth in this album. Furthermore, the central methodology in pacing, texture and narrative air in Abigor’s work retains a very original expression. In the other band, it is nonexistent and we fail to see a soul as the music moves from one genre appropriation to the next.

For a veteran project such as Gorgoroth to thus vacillate in its choice of an aesthetic avenue of development to the point of becoming inwardly estranged from the genre they are supposed to exist in reveals deep perturbations of the principles upon which the spirit of that genre was founded. And in not being able to find clarity and value elsewhere, that a rich communication through aesthetics may take place, a defeated entity devoid of purpose is brought forth from the shadows of humiliated despair and blind frustration.

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19 thoughts on “Gorgoroth – Instinctus Bestialis (2015)”

  1. penisfingers says:

    Even more than Emperor, Burzum, etc, the quality of their early material feels like an accident. No matter what Immortal churns out now, I can commit to saying “Immortal used to be good.” With Gorgoroth I think a more accurate statement is “Gorgoroth somehow made 3 good albums.”

    They’re like the first boring Norwegian black metal band. As far as I can tell they were always attitude-merchants who got by on the best stylistic inventions of more daring groups. What’s their claim to fame again? Embodying “pure” black metal? In other words, doing what every other band in the region at the time did, but with less personality, and diluting any leftover punk/death metal/Bathory influence into homeopathic state. Zzzz. Even the “we’re kinda pagan, we’re kinda satanic” conceptual bent shows what a watered down amalgam they are.

    Half the so-called “Darkthrone clones” out there were probably actually Gorgoroth clones. This this band never existed I reckon northern European BM would have been a lot less boring after the mid 90s.

    1. penisfingers says:

      I’m drunk, excuse typos

      1. Gorgoroth copied Dismember’s pig blood and Mayhem’s animal corpses schtick too. Their riffing style was a pure simplification of the Norwegian d-minor tremolo stereotype that the bigger bands (Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal, Emperor) didn’t actually use that often.

    2. Syphilis says:

      Don’t give Gorgoroth too much credit. Even if the ’Roth never existed there’s always Marduk and Dark Funeral to keep the banner of norse borecore high.

  2. I do not think early Gorgoroth was an accident. They were simply on the right track, and then lost it.
    Black metal can only come from a spiritual connection to darkness, and if you have that for a second, you will have that for a second and then lose it. I guess this may be what happened to Gorgoroth.

    1. More likely Gorgoroth stumbled upon a basic, very limited riffing formula and exhausted it quickly as humans are apt to do with a limited resource. Gorgoroth are no Tony Iommi.

    2. Rainer Weikusat says:

      From the first demo onwards, Gorgoroth sounded like black metal turned heavy metal fans making music. They’re somewhat less annoying (to people who don’t like heavy metal) than worse examples of this genre hybrid (Satyricon, Watain) but that’s about it. And they’re still very annoying.

      1. I wouldn’t even call Gorgoroth heavy metal; they’re just less skilled and creative musicians. Black metal turned back into heavy metal pretty much sounds like Dissection or post-Demonaz Immortal. If you go back a little bit to the Czech scene, you can hear Root and Master’s Hammer making heavy and speed metal into something new rather than the other way around.

  3. Can you survive the blitzkrieg says:

    They’re fucking garbage, I am damn well good on the black metal genre. Even if a band made good music I can’t stomach the imagery and cliches anymore, the over copying has taken its power. With only a few releases of note and few worthwhile bands stil in existence I usually ignore anything labeled black metal ( though I am glad I got the latest Graveland as its great and makes all this shit look pathetic).

    1. Try Godless Arrogance by Sammath

    2. C.M. says:

      >I usually ignore anything labeled black metal

      Yes friend, I feel you on that. But check out Sammath like Ludwig said, if you haven’t already, it’s as much death as black metal. The new Infamous sounds good as well and is pretty uncompromisingly black. Don’t let the rule squash your exceptions bro.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        But check out Sammath […] it’s as much death as black metal.

        Why this? I think I’m tolerably familiar with this by now and I can’t find any death metal in there. Death metal is usually oriented towards low/ bass sounds for both guitar and vocals. Melodies, insofar there are any, are used for colouring, not as something to structure tracks around. In riff tempo changes are common and also single-string (I read the term somewhere) guitar ‘solos’ (ideally as extemporation of a riff and folding back into another riff).

        Godless Arrogance has nothing of any of this: The general sound is distinctively oriented towards ‘high’ sounds, there are no ‘growled’ vocals but rasping ones, the tracks are built around ebb and flow melodic lines often arising as sort-of side effect of the sounds made by the two guitars intefering with each other. There are no discernible guitar solos and the speed is almost uniformly high. A compact description could be “Immortal but without the »Gene Simmonds In Front Of The Glorious Nature«-antics and ironically-sounding vocals”.

        1. C.M. says:

          >Death metal is usually oriented towards low/ bass sounds for both guitar and vocals.

          Low vocals weren’t a death metal “thing” til Cannibal Corpse commercially retarded the genre. Downtuned guitars are standard for all metal and death metal guitarists actually tend to use more of the fretboard than black metal players.

          >Melodies, insofar there are any, are used for colouring, not as something to structure tracks around.

          I dunno where you’re hearing death metal that puts texture before melody but whoever is doing that, is doing it wrong. Melody (in the form of a riff) is the cellular component of death metal. This throws a lot of people off but that’s just because death metal riff melodies have more abstract relationships with one another as opposed to the chain of riffs you’d hear in Black Sabbath or Iron Maiden songs which all circle some Platonic-form-like rhythm or scale to tie them together. Death metal melodies change in the way that a carcass changes; through decay, new life forms emerging from the very process of decomposition and aiding in the destruction/transformation of the material that gives them life.

          Maybe with this in mind you’ll notice the sort of blocky structural nature of the riff chains in Sammath, that is similar to the mindset with which death metal composers approached their music.

          1. Rainer Weikusat says:

            Low vocals weren’t a death metal “thing” til Cannibal Corpse commercially retarded the genre.

            About the only thing I know about Cannibal Corpse is that I saw a review of their debut and thought that this (Cannibal Corpse/ Eaten Back to Life) was getting seriously too silly. The vocals on the Sammath album have something in common with the vocals on, say, the Enslaved debut they haven’t in common with the vocals on any random Possessed track. And death metal vs (originally Norwegian) black metal guitar playing shows the same tendency.

            dunno where you’re hearing death metal that puts texture before melody but whoever is doing that, is doing it wrong. Melody (in the form of a riff) is the cellular component of death metal.

            When defining melody as ‘any sequence of sounds’, the term becomes obviously useless for describing the differences between



            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-crgQGdpZR0 [*** THIS IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH ***]

            I was more thinking of »a rhythmic succession of single tones organized as an aesthetic whole«, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/melody. Or, with less pseudo-formalism, “something which could [generally] be sung [with a clean voice]”. That’s something Fear Upon Them has, most of the time as eerie manifestation between the two guitars, sometimes played by the first one directly, while death metal, at least of the “not middle-school heavy metal” aka Among Amarth’s Inflamed Carcass At The Gothendeath’s Gates variety, mostly hasn’t.

            Specifically with what you call “death metal riff melodies” in mind, I don’t see them in Sammath. But I was really just curious and not looking for a discussion/ quarrel.

            1. C.M. says:


              I think you’ll find, if you listen long enough, that it really does come down to how the melodies relate (or interrelate, as it is) to one another rather than what historic style Sammath’s aesthetics bring to mind. If you’ve only listened to Godless Arrogance, I strongly recommend Triumph Of Hatred for the really great synthesis of black/death/heavy metal, and if you want to hear Sammath do almost-straight-up death metal, check out Verwoesting/Devestation.

          2. Johan P says:

            Death metal melodies change like a rotten corpse – you nailed it, Cory!

  4. Morbideathscream says:

    Pentagram and Antichrist were good black metal releases, but don’t quite match the quality of the early releases of Burzum, Darkthrone or Mayhem. I heard some of Gorgoroth’s later shit and pretty much sounded like generic norsecore garbage.

    1. C.M. says:

      I impulsively bought Ad Majoram Sathanas (or whatever) off a used CD rack because it was only like three bucks and I regret every cent.

  5. Johan P says:

    Accidentally produced Pentagram and Antichrist? That would be even more impressive than the opposite if it was true.

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