The Underworld Regime
posted on 4/2010 By:
A confession: When the acrimonious Gorgoroth split occurred, I was solidly cheerleading the King / Gaahl camp. Blasphemy, you say? Well, my reasoning was pretty simple. Ad Majoram Sathanas Gloriam was an absolute beast of an album--and it was composed entirely by King. As someone that desperately craved a followup, it was only logical that I throw my allegiance in that direction. Moreover, it seemed that Infernus had lost his drive, and that King and Gaahl were steering the ship for quite some time. Regardless of legal wrangling over the Gorgoroth name, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that King's future material was going to be the most triumphant.
Yeah, I was way off the mark.
Infernus regrouped and put out a riffy, badass black-and-roller in 2009, Quantos Possunt ad Satanitatem Trahunt. Meanwhile, the planned (and much-anticipated) King / Gaahl unit, God Seed, disintegrated soon after it was conceived. While one could certainly speculate that Gaahl's newfound contentedness contributed to his withdrawal, the material crafted under the Ov Hell banner tells a different story: King's creative well has run dry. Gaahl is a lot of things. Deaf, he is not.
On the surface, The Underworld Regime presents itself as half-assed and uninspired. All the elements are resoundingly dull: the unit's fuck-obvious moniker, the album's generic title, and that cover...yep, that's nobody's favorite cartoon character, Shagrath, at King's right hand. Replacing one of the genre's biggest lightning rods with an absolute cred-killer like Shagrath was a piss-poor decision, and his nondescript frog-metal croaks on lightly-dusted duds like "Post Modern Sadist" won't do much to counter the skeptics.
Digging deeper, the first impression reveals itself to be quite accurate. Essentially, the album is a watered-down sequel to Ad Majorem. Attack-mode drumming (courtesy of Frost) certainly helps straddle the divide that has grown since that album's release, and the riffs that King has penned (deployed by Ice Dale and Teloch) are strikingly similar. Instead of breeding familiarity, however, The Underworld Regime comes across like a cheap knockoff of King's own work. Opener "Devil's Harlot" is an unsuccessful bid at recapturing some of the electricity found on "Carving a Giant," and most of the album's songs follow a similar pattern. Strong, bass-y riffage and impressive blasting quickly give way to dull verses and nonexistant choruses, and attempts at chaos ("Acts of Sin," the final minute of "Krigsatte Faner") fall far short of threatening.
The lack of progession and aggression on The Underworld Regime leaves Shagrath and King with little ammunition. As they stand on the front cover--full of nail-clad bravado--they seem enamored with black metal as an idea. Unfortunately, despite their high-profile associates, they lack the inspiration for proper manifestation. They've built these songs to accessorize a costume; the vapid, trodden nature of these compositions makes this abundantly clear. The Underworld Regime is utterly superficial, totally lacking in riffs and hooks, and profoundly uninteresting.
A textbook case: Too much black, not enough metal.
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