Gaahls Wyrd – GastiR – Ghosts Invited
1. Ek Erilar
Label: Season Of Mist
Kristian “Gaahl” Espedal is one of the most instantly recognized faces in black metal today. Even people who don’t listen to black metal know about Gaahl, which shows how much of a cult icon Gaahl has become. It all started in 1992, when Gaahl co-founded his first black metal band Trelldom. As Trelldom’s reputation in the black metal scene was growing, Gaahl also joined Sigfader and later formed Gaahlskagg with Sigfader’s founding member Skagg. While in Sigfader, Gaahl also had a chance to work with Einar “Kvitrafn” Selvik, who will prove to be crucial for his career in the future. It was also at that time that Gaahl joined Gorgoroth and recorded vocals for the title track of the band’s fourth album “Destroyer”, a decision that will mark his entire career. In 1999, Tom Cato Visnes, better known as King ov Hell, joined Gorgoroth as a bassist, another person who will prove to be crucial for Gaahl’s career in the future. A year later Kvitrafn also joined Gorgoroth as a drummer. In 2003, Kvitrafn and Gaahl founded a Nordic folk project Wardruna, which became Kvitrafn’s main priority after leaving Gorgoroth a year later. In 2007, Gaahl and King ov Hell have been involved in the legal dispute against Infernus regarding the usage of Gorgoroth name, which resulted in them being fired from the band. As a result, Gaahl and King ov Hell decided to continue under God Seed moniker in 2009. The band didn’t take off properly until 2012, when they gathered a full band and recorded God Seed’s first and only album “I, Begin”. 2015 was the year that marked big changes for Gaahl. At that time, Gaahl declared his departure from Wardruna and God Seed ended, which marked the start of Gaahls Wyrd.
Gaahls Wyrd was founded by Gaahl on vocals and his former God Seed bandmates: Ole “Lust Kilman” Walaunet and Stian “Sir” Kårstad on guitars and Baard Kolstad on drums. There is also an inclusion of non-God Seed member Frode “Eld” Kilvik on bass. Later on, Baard Kolstad and Sir left the band and Kevin “Spektre” Kvåle joined the band as a drummer. This new line-up seems to be perfect for this band, since they completely share Gaahl’s vision. This is especially true for Lust Kilman, who helped a lot with composing and arranging music for this album.
From all of this, it can be easily concluded that Gaahl had a very versatile career up to this point, so it left many to wonder how will the first Gaahls Wyrd album sound like. Judging by the lyrics and the artwork, it can clearly be seen that Gaahl draws a lot of inspiration from Nordic paganism, mythology and spiritualism and the music also has a strong Nordic pagan vibe to it.
For the most part this album relies heavily on the atmosphere. There are many gothic and progressive elements that enhance the dark atmosphere for which this album aims for, making this band similar to Tribulation to some extent. Regarding the vocals, the album is very diverse. At times we have deeper clean vocals, at times we have some higher pitched clean vocals and at times we have screams characteristic for black metal. Some polyphony characteristic for Wardruna can also be found on this album. All these things indicate that this is not going to be a traditional black metal album.
There are many genres and influences that could be attributed to this album, but I think that the album’s genre could be best described as atmospheric black metal. The tracks vary a lot from one another, which is one of the album’s strengths. On one hand you have “From the Spear” that sounds a little like a blackish version of Mastodon, while on the other hand you have a blackened thrasher “Through and Past and Past”, which is the fastest and the most aggressive song on the album. “Veiztu Hve” contains some fast tremolo riffing and choir like clean vocals and it resonates with an overall pagan atmosphere. This would easily be a track where polyphony reaches its peak. The most atmospheric track on the album would definitely be “Within the Voice of Existence”, which starts off with a slow guitar melody and whispered vocals, later to develop into a full-blown pagan ritual with choir like vocals. With all this in mind, this is a perfect track to close an album such as this.
The overall feeling about this album is that Gaahls Wyrd is a great new start for Gaahl and a chance for him to expand his musical horizons furthermore. There are some influences from his previous bands, but there are also many novelties that make this album all the more genuine. The band has combined various influences into one perfect mix, which shows that there is much more to expect from Gaahls Wyrd in the future.