Gorgoroth are without doubt one of the most important and influential bands outside the traditional big four of black metal (Darkthrone, Immortal, Mayhem and Emperor) but were very much part of this emerging scene in the early 90's due to their location and affiliations with many of these pioneering acts. Destroyer (or About How to Philosophize with the Hammer, 1998 ) is their fourth album and builds significantly on the promise and musicianship of their previous efforts. Importantly it was their first album for the Nuclear Blast label and this was crucial for both the increased exposure and distribution of the album and perhaps also the standard of the recording. Gorgoroth's unique sound, from their groundbreaking debut Pentagram (1994) through to their current release, has always remained uncompromising and true to the black metal ideal unlike the symphonic and theatrical excesses of some of the other major acts in the genre. For real fans this is both refreshing and welcome.
This album was vocalist Gaahl's first effort with Gorgoroth, although his distinctive tones are only heard on the opening title track. In fact, it is partly the vocals that make this album so unique and varied. The vocal duties were shared between 4 of the band members namely; Gaahl, Pest, T.Reaper and indeed Infernus himself. What makes this a classic black metal release is this sense of variation, resulting in the fact that both vocally and musically every song is unique and quite different. Every musician here is competent in their playing and most importantly they display creativity and inimitable ability in the composing and arrangement of the songs. Unlike many black metal albums the bass is quite high in the mix on some tracks. But like many albums in the `treble' obsessed world of black metal the drums are often low in the mix. With eight tracks in all, the album contains both slow and fast compositions and some include spoken word passages and indeed some clean vocals on occasion.
Gorgoroth began to experiment with dark ambient and noise influences on this release but thankfully they remain a marginal element in most of the songs. In fact the industrial sounds that are evident actually add to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the album without detracting from the ensuing sonic chaos. This results in an album that is both cold and wonderfully dark. They would take this experimentation further on their next album Incipit Satan (2000) but unfortunately on that album it would mostly be to the detriment of their unique black metal sound. That they struck this progressive balance right here is what makes Destroyer such a special album.
Overall, if you consider yourself a true black metal fan this album should most certainly take pride of place in your collection. It was definitely their finest accomplishment up to this point in their career. Subjectively speaking, their masterpiece would emerge eight years later in the form of their seventh release Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam (2006), which remains a titanic, crushing album of black metal power. My advice is that if you are a true black metal fan and recognise quality music you must own this fine effort from one of Norway's finest metal bands. Enjoy!