Grigorien – Magtens Evangelium Review

I am a naturally conflict-averse person. I see trouble, my first instinct is to do whatever is in my power to circumvent or deescalate before butting heads. Life has a funny way of forcing me to butt heads with myriad quandaries, though, and thusly life presented me with Grigorien. The Danish black metal trio, formed in 2006, operated quietly for sixteen years—releasing a demo here and a split there—before finally concocting and unleashing their debut record, Magtens Evangelium. Ever since picking up this tome, I’ve succumbed to a whirlwind of waffling and fence-straddling, emerging on the other side a mentally thrashed reviewer with a brutal take on this vexing debut.

Mercifully, extracting Grigorien‘s primal core was as simple as opening the pantry to retrieve a can of bread. They play black metal, olde and colde and so very full of molde. There’s not a synth or twinkly chime to be found, nor are there any solos, clean vocals, or leads. This is wall-to-wall riffs filled to the brim with a trademark disdain for organized Christianity and humans in general. As you would extrapolate from that information, you may or may not also find a macro-boner or two for Satan. Not that you would be able to guess that based on the lyrics, as the vocals are as unintelligible as black metal vocals have ever been, just as they should be. Blast beats are the name of the percussion game on Magtens Evangelium, all suitably unhinged and barely hanging on to time. In short, there are precisely zero surprises, and that suits Grigorien just fine.

Sadly, Magtens Evangelium didn’t suit me just fine at all. For the first three tracks (excluding the worthless intro instrumental, those are “Skammens Æt,” “Boedsgang og Blodig Hoste,” and “Østens Hviide Slange”), I believed I had a winning black metal record, albeit with deceivingly bad production, in my hands. The illusion quickly faded, however, as “Et Taarn til de Høyeste Himle” unveiled an unsettling pattern that pervades the entirety. Every song—every single fucking song—enters the world via a cheesy ecclesiastical sample, routinely featuring rather demonic voice manipulation and some form of bell or gong. From there, these numbers predictably snap into a riff that sounds like an incestuous cousin of one or two of a grand total of four unique riffs album-wide. To make matters worse, the vocals can’t find a place to sit in the mix. They constantly shift in and out of the foreground, oscillating between barely audible and overpowering. While Magtens Evangelium is hardly the first black metal album to commit this atrocity in the name of rawness, in this particular case it mars damn near every salvageable chunk of songwriting to be found.

It’s a shame, because there are clear and obvious signs of potential in Grigorien‘s work. Even though its unfortunate placement outs “Østens Hviide Slange”‘s main theme as material cloned from its predecessor, it is far and away the superior implementation, enlivening the composition to a much greater extent. “Et Taarn til de Høyeste Himle” introduces one of the aforementioned four unique riffs, and it’s one helluva thing, bumping uglies with grind and spawning a rather refreshing take on the style. “Af Kviksølv og Galdes Chor” brings MENA spice to the record’s palette, pairing it with a theme that tastes fresher than much of Grigorien‘s material elsewhere. “De Blinders Hyrde” not only once again recycles an earlier riff, but also once again wears it better, before stripping to reveal a surprisingly unexpected and muscular death metal physique. All of these snippets offer something fun and compelling to appreciate, and make the album’s numerous flaws seem less significant, if for just a brief moment.

The more pressing issue is that those curtailed flashes of brilliance only make up a scant few minutes out of thirty-five comprised of repetitive, excessively unimaginative black metal with remarkably unbalanced vocal presence. In other words, Magtens Evangelium is a bad record with merit buried deeply within. Mine for that merit at your own peril.

Rating: 1.5/5.0
DR: 13 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Signal Rex
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: August 5th, 2022

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