There’s something in the water over at Season at Mist. This label has, in a very short period, released some of metal’s very best records in recent months. These include records from Horrendous, Misery Index and VLTIMAS. And here they are, yet again, with another guaranteed-to-be classic, GastiR – Ghosts Invited by Gaahl’s Wyrd.
I was lucky enough to see one of Gaahl’s Wyrd’s premier performance in their home base of Bergen, Norway back in November of 2015 at the legendary Blekkmetal festival. Not having written their original material yet, Gaahl gave us inspiring and original renditions of classics from his vast Gorgoroth, God Seed and Trelldom catalog. You can catch a glimpse of this once-in-a-lifetime performance captured by Uneasy Sleeper and Grimposium here:
While Gaahl has changed some personnel from their earlier live incarnations, GastiR features some of Norway’s most gifted metal musicians including Ole Walaunet also formerly of God Seed and currently in Grimfist and Sahg; as well as Kevin Kvale of Horizon Ablaze fame. Mesmerizing bass wizard, Frode Kilvik also performs on this record and if he looks familiar it’s because he also plays in Norway’s Krakow and Aeternus as well as touring with Taake from time to time.
As a huge follower of Gaahl’s work for as a long as I can remember (full disclosure, one of his artworks hangs in my bedroom), I had high expectations for this record. Everything Gaahl has ever done creatively has been quite brilliant, whether it be his music or on canvas (you can visit Galleri Fjalar his gallery in Bergen, Norway and see his admirable works), so I wondered how he was going to top what he already has produced. Quickly I learned that Gaahl wasn’t looking to recreate his work in any of his past bands, rather he would take his music as well as his voice in a new, yet still familiar, direction.
While Gaahl is famous for his crucial demonstration of True Norwegian Black Metal vocals on Gorgoroth tracks like “Carving a Giant” and “Teeth Grinding,” we hear a different, much more diverse offering of Gaahl’s vocal sounds. Yes, there are definitely songs with aggressive vocal delivery as with “From the Spear,” but there are other tracks like “Carving the Voices” where Gaahl gives us a baritone-like performance that is more reticent of heavier goth or bands like Moonspell. And in other songs like “The Speech and the Self” we get a beautifully clean vocal delivery. The final cut, “Within the Voice of Existence” features a slow, atmospheric whisper with other layered voices. Even the most ardent Gaahl listeners will be impressed by the range demonstrated on this record.
The record itself is 8 tracks. Each can easily stand on its own and each are very unique. At the same time, it’s obvious the amount of care put into the song order as the band takes the listener on this sometimes wild, sometimes solemn, often dark, journey. Listening to this record with headphones is a must as there is just so much to catch each listen. I’ve listened to “Within the Voice of Existence” nearly 50 times thus far and I’m still hearing new sounds and new notes. This record is a process of discovery for the listener, just as it is also a process of discovery for the band.
Enslaved drummer Iver Sandoy recorded the album in Solslottet Studios in Bergen and he did a brilliant job capturing the sounds and vibes.
Leave no doubt, Gaahl’s Wyrd breaks new ground here and black metal will never be the same.
GastiR – Ghosts Invited releases digitally tomorrow (24th). Physical copies will be available on May 31 via Season of Mist and can be ordered here.
You can also listen to it in full below: