(Wil Cifer reviews GastiR – Ghosts Invited, the new album by Gaahls Wyrd, which is out now via Season of Mist.)
Gaahl is an iconoclast. For him black metal is not something he simply paints onto his face. Black metal is something he expresses himself through with an honest anger. While you might not feel that hate coming at you through the speakers like his work with Gorgoroth, you can feel the darkness. He does not settle for the mediocrity of sounding like everyone else.
His first song is spoken in a Gollum-like voice. They are not just hitting you with blast beats, but with dissonance, creepiness, and haunting melodies. There are blast beats on “Ghosts Invited” but they take you on an immersive journey with more thrashing sections and some groove. In places Gaahl uses sung baritone vocals to off-set the din. They slow down into a more elegant and melodic pulse with “Carving the Voices”. If this is hurting your feelings because it doesn’t sound just like Gorgoroth, well go listen to Gorgoroth. Yes, he is singing more, but I imagine if he was just rehashing what he did in Gorgoroth, he would bore himself to death.
Sonically, this has more in common with Emperor than Gorgoroth. The drumming is very tasteful and solid. Spektre (Kevin Kvåle) has pretty solid double-bass work. One of this album’s key selling points is the well-balanced pacing. It would be taking the easy way out for them to rage through this album at racing speeds. The varied time signatures make when they do go into blast beats more effective, as they have not numbed you to them.
“Veiztu Hive’ falls into a more typical black metal pace, before they use restraint and pull back, creating more powerful riffs in doing so. This also allows for the breathing room; folk-metal-like melodies creep in as the song crescendos.
More blast beats explode out of “The Speech and the Self”. There is still melody in this aggressive buzz. Gaahl doesn’t come in screaming. When the song goes into more of a sweeping gallop, his vocals remind me more of My Dying Bride.
One of the album’s more overtly aggressive moments comes by way of “Through and Past and Past” . If you are a Gorgoroth fan, who has been champing at the bit for the glory days, go ahead and fast-forward to this song. I know I do not like the need for speed just for the sake of it. But this is a good example of how that can be well done. It does not seem like the easy way out, and doesn’t sacrifice song-writing to achieve the rush. The song has both groove and hooky riffs.
The album ends with “Within the Voice of Existence”, a dark and droning piece of atmospherics that is more like an interlude from a Type O Negative song.
This is one of the few albums this year that I have been able to just leave on a let-play all day, on endless repeat, and not get bored with it. If you do not need your black metal to live on blast alone and prefer the feel of darkness, then this is more than worth your time.