Gaahl is synonymous with black metal and is a true uber behemoth of the world, a demi god, if you will, of the genre and any new work by the master is welcomed with open arms. Gaahls Wyrd has been built from the ashes of another of Gaahls previous works, God Seed, in the winter of 2015. This majestic phoenix has also been conceived in the memory and honour of the legacy of Gaahls first band, Trelldom.
Gaahl is known for his vocals with the Norwegian black metal giants Gorgoroth, and then God Seed, when he and King Ov Hell departed ways with Infernus from Gorgoroth following a unceremonious court battle where it was deemed that Infernus owned the Gorgoroth name and Gaahl and King had excluded themselves from the band by trying to oust Infernus. Gaahl is also known as vocalist with Wardruna for 12 years up until 2015, a career path which is not as obvious or well known, as some of his other projects.
Gaahls Wyrd are now ready to unleash their debut album into the abyss and carve open the underworld to their black arts with passion and venom a plenty.
‘GastiR – Ghosts Invited’ opens with ‘Ek Erilar’ and starts off with an eerie intro before growling vocals take control amidst a back drop of ferocious guitars and drums intertwining to create a demonical passage. Towards the end of the track the guitars from Kilman and the drums of Spektre seem to freelance and go off on differing tangents yet keeping an air of unity together on top of mesmerising vocals and enchanting
‘From The Spear’ opens with a rawer drum sound and more tinny guitar acoustics than previously expected from the release. The vocals are more visceral and help to create an air of pain and suffering. The track dissects itself with a certain punk sound whilst keeping the black metal undercurrent. The guitars create a catchy riff, while solos are exhibited intermittently and these work tirelessly throughout the track to create a build-up of ferocity and lead to a crescendo, which reaches the pinnacle and then slows mid track to create a more rounded and full bodied element to the track.
‘Ghosts Invited’ opens up with a slow and pounding soul with a groove and jazz undertone. The vocals are doomier and depressive and are clearer than you would expect from the former God Seed and Gorgoroth icon. Mid way through, the pace quickens yet the vocals remain on the depressive tangent, almost reminiscent of some of Nick Holmes finer work. The bass of Eld needs a highlight in this particular track as it provides the muscle and attitude to the proceedings which help to create the monster, the behemoth that has been awoken.
The album then continues in much the same vain, ‘Carving The Voices’, ‘Veiztu Hve’ and ‘The Speech And The Self’ are all quicker numbers and seem to allow Gaahl to flaunt his vocal talents amidst the backdrop of technical and intricate fretwork, of both the four and six string variety, and a pummelling and pulverising effort from the drum kit.
‘Through And Past And Past’ is a return to a more classic black metal sound and has raw vitriolic vocals spread across a fast and maniacal musical soul. This is a return to more classic Norwegian black metal and almost seems as though, for the tracks leading to this point, Gaahl was trying to rein it in and keep it under control before he could control it no more with this explosion of rawness and intent.
‘Within The Voice Of Existence’ starts with a slow and eerie introduction before beauty and splendour carve delicately into the fold. Vocals can be heard in the distance, lying faintly across a repetitive guitar riff and slow plodding gentle drum beats. Mid track, it turns the volume up whilst keeping much the same restraint and control, mirroring the previous body within the track.
The album as a whole is technical and accomplished while injecting its own brand of black metal into the proceedings. There are also glimmers of the more traditional Norwegian black metal we have known from Gaahls previous outlets, but this package opens you up to a new breed of the black arts and is very measured and methodical in its deliverance. If you are after vicious and hatred filled raw black metal then you may well be disappointed with this, if you however have an eclectic love of the blackened beast, then this may be for you, this delivers atmosphere and brutality in an elegant and beautiful angelic cadaver.
(8/10 Phil Pountney)