GAAHLS WYRD “The Humming Mountain”
By Lord Randall
Black metal thrives on controversy, being intentionally created by the artists/bands themselves or a by-product of media hype. In that realm, few have lived the life to the degree of Gaahl. I don’t need to rehash, and won’t, as a cursory web search can do that for those interested. GAAHLS WYRD’s debut album in 2019 was a chance for Gaahl (the man) to move away from Gaahl (the media/meme fodder) and simply record as an artist with like-minded comrades – and it succeeded.
2021 brings “The Humming Mountain”, a self-described “mini-album” that swims in the pre-history first explored on “GastiR – Ghosts Invited”. Too long for an EP, too short for a full-length, ‘The Seed’ begins our journey, somber, contemplative acoustics evoking the slow but steady melting of ice, already Nordic in aesthetic, Gaahl’s voice ideal for the ushering into the world of the next half-hour, ragged, worn – weathered, wise. Subdued percussion evokes plates shifting, glaciers the size of mountains colliding with one another in the freezing, fathomless ocean. A solitary piano casts shadows on the white expanses, grey against the glimmering.
The title track flips the moon to the dark side of its predecessor, still as cold, still as contemplative, but austere, elements of an infinitely more distortion-friendly early KATATONIA or GREEN CARNATION appear, gazing expressionless, timeless, evoking the mountain itself. ‘The Dwell’ is an interesting take on First Wave black metal, speed and ferocity, bursting from what’s come before, the band clearly having put the focus on the sound foremost this time around – how it should be perceived, the layering, the section [2:57-4:12] when you feel the band teetering on the edge of hysteria, scathing leads and jittery rhythms, but holding it together admirably.
With ‘The Sleep’, we’re taken once more back into minimalist art, wind effects and solo guitar/voice drawing us forward towards the end, which arrives in an abrupt, but fitting style.
Ideal listening for the Winter months, or when in a time of reflection.