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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Gehenna - Seen Through the Veils of Darkness (The Second Spe [Cacophonous Records - 2016]

This review is for the reissue of Gehenna’s “Seen Through the Veils of Darkness (The Second Spell)”. Their first full length release, and the follow up to debut EP “First Spell”. Thematically the album delves into the darkness and comes up with certain recurring lyrical tropes, of a satanic and mythological nature. Dark, visceral images of cold, apocalyptic landscapes, war and the occult dominate the album from beginning to end, however it also features the only song the band ever wrote in their native Norwegian language, Vinterriket, which features a guest performance from Ulver’s Garm. The album has been remastered by Danny B in order to highlight the dynamic range of the tracks, and eke out every last detail within.

Opening track Lord of Flies is fairly typical early 90s Black Metal, fast and aggressive, but with perhaps a little more melody than many of their contemporaries at the time. The track slows at various points, leading to some of the most melodious early 90s exchanges in Norwegian Black Metal. A heavy keyboard presence adds a more commercial feel to the track during these breakdowns, however the fast sections are just as brutal as any of their peers.

Shairak Kinnummh, follows in a very similar vein to Lord of Flies, the heavy keyboard presence remains during the song’s slower moments, whilst the faster sections remain comparable to their peers. Vinterriket is up next, reminiscent of mid 80s Bathory, the riff recalls, “Under the Sign of the Black Mark’s”, Call from The Grave.  A Witch Is Born, is a slower track, again, highlighting the band’s sense of melody, without diluting their sense of darkness.

Through the Veils of Darkness is up next, and those keyboards are back, and more prevalent than ever. This is great progressive Black Metal in my eyes, clearly defined time changes and some Wakeman-esque keyboard flourishes show a band truly ahead of their time. The Mystical Play of Shadows, takes us back into more traditional Black Metal territory. A short, sharp, blast to remind us that they can still mix it up with the best of them. The Eyes of The Sun, again brings about comparison with Bathory, there is a definite Viking/folk influence.

A Myth... is more of the same, good solid melodic Black Metal, however, around the midpoint it flips and turns into something quite unique in the Black Metal scene at the time. A tender, acoustic section forces its way into the mix, before a full on Black Metal assault reminds us of just what we’re listening to. Final track Dark Poems Author is more of the same melodic Black Metal as we’ve heard elsewhere on the album.

It’s been a fascinating experience listening to this album for the first time in many a year. Whilst Gehenna were obviously ahead of their time in creating Black Metal loaded with melody, and folk influences, the tracks whilst pleasant enough haven’t aged as well as one would hope. The album is obviously important in the development of melodic Black Metal, the playing is of a high standard and the songwriting is fine, it just seems to lack that special little something to make the album stand out. Nevertheless, the albums is still good, it’s just not what I would call one of the greats.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Darren Charles
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