It's pouring with rain. Somewhere in the distance, the ominous rumble of thunder makes it's presence known. I finish eating a Kit-kat, and I already know what subgenre I shall be reviewing today. Indeed, it's black-metal weather, and I know just the album I've been meaning to check-out.
Gehenna are a band I've been meaning to examine for quite some time, and, like many of my reviews, the idea to review an album simply popped into my head, and I wrote this review later the same day. Gehenna, like many of the bands in the golden-age of Norwegian black metal, came into being in the early-to-mid nineties. This album, their second full-length, is definitely held in high regard. The first track bursts forth, scathingly cold and low-fi, but still quite crisp and full of flavour, certainly produced well in the sense that it sounds the way black-metal should. Quintessential and effective black-metal riffing seems to lay down an indisputable dark, and maliciously evil backbone to the music, the sound of ritual-blood and dark incantation. The frequent, but not dominating, waves of synth add a depth and austere beauty to many sections, especially tracks like "Shirak Kinnummh" really making the album a bouquet of variety - Perhaps not quite with the Viking-feel of Enslaved's early work, or the virtuosity of Emperor, but with it's own greatly enjoyable charm, which keeps it's intensity and raw guitars well. The album is an icy-cold collection of music, and the guitar tone, as well as being diaboliocal, is also suggestive of a ripping, unavoidable icy-wind, and the music certainly causes a shiver or two, as the best black-metal does.
One thing I very much noticed when listening to the album was the balance which the sound manages to achieve; Raw and enraged black-metal, often heftily dosed with synth, and a great variety of influences, including folk, but also excellent variety within the black-metal element itself - Some parts as intricate as anything on De Mysteriis, but also sections as crude, blunt and nonetheless effective as Hellhammer. It's an album which very observably covers all bases - There is a little of every aspect of black-metal interwoven into the music, and I can safely say that the song-writing on the album is a league about many of the band's peers. These aspects manage to be cohesive, too, and not spontaneous, which is also admirable. It sounds not so much that the band was so varied through experimentation, but instead saw a place for the many aspects among each other, and the album is solidly interlocked, like a well-crafted occult piece of Velcro. Although I go on about many elements, I must also mention that the elements are combined to make something unique. The album is definitely not simply a chimaera of varying styles, but is very much unique entity in and of itself, which is most pleasing of all, and certainly is a great reason behind it being what I'd consider "A gem of Norwegian black-metal".
Today was my first time listening to Gehenna, but I doubt that it shall be my last; This album is a textbook example of a black-metal album done-right. Varied, but also coherent and deeply evil-sounding. A truly underrated album of the Norwegian black-metal scene.
This is a 9/10.
Gehenna Official Site
Gehenna on Metal Archives