|Title:||I Will Not Serve|
|Label:||Immortal Frost Productions|
Judging by their discography, you might think Gurthang could have been around since forever: demos, splits, collections, EPs, LPs, singles, and even a memorial box-set (limited to thirty copies); this Polish act really has everything. Nevertheless, if you take a closer look, you will find out that up to three years ago they weren't even an actual band, but a solo project by Azathoth (who started it in 2010, even before turning 17). In 2012, with the official additions of Stormalv (bass) and G.H. (rhythm guitar) — plus a series of drummers that have changed over these few years — Gurthang entered a new dimension and became a proper band. Today, they are a five-piece that also includes the keyboard player Vojfrost, and they are ready for the next step.
Having left behind the many smaller and mostly unknown labels they had worked with and having reached the more stable Immortal Frost, the band from Lublin steadily proceeded with their journey: we are far from their first amateurish efforts, the funereal and depressive metal that Azathoth and his fellow band members represent —although not devoid of imperfections — has finally found its own complete dimension. Surely the work by Nortt and Elysian Blaze in the background is of primary importance, but here the black metal part of their music is much more prevalent, and actually the least effective moments on here are the forcefully slowed down ones ("Visions"). For this reason, every once in a while the album might feel dragged for a bit too long; this becomes clearer when the band ventures through atmospheric sections mostly left to acoustic arpeggioes, which might be alright, but sometimes they seem a bit abandoned to themselves in the overall scheme of the album.
The result is much different in the more black-metal oriented tracks: the band rushes on, the blast beats keep the listener on their feet, and the riffing is devastating, while the symphonic vein brought by the keyboard — at times close to early Dimmu Borgir ("The Unconquered Sun") — is an enjoyable added value. Azathoth's voice — quite likely skillfully edited — is perfectly at ease in its role of infernal announcer, channel of esoteric communications, or deliverer of starkly antireligious messages ("The Sons Of Sion").
"I Will Not Serve" is ultimately a solid black metal album, with strong contaminations that can be improved. However, although the funeral doom elements still show room for improvement, we can certainly say that Gurthang can compose and play really good black metal.