Having been involved in making underground music for nigh on thirty years, vocalist Gaahl has amassed a body of work ranging from high voltage Black Metal with Gorgoroth and the less polished Trelldom, to the traditional folk stylings of Wardruna, ramping up his progressive blackened leanings with God Seed, before releasing GastiR – Ghosts Invited (Indie Recordings), the debut offering of current vehicle Gaahls Wyrd, in 2019.
Once quoted as saying Black Metal should be “the depiction of honesty without compromise”, the second release under the Wyrd banner mini-album The Humming Mountain (Season of Mist) adheres to that mantra; leaning on the approach Gaahl has taken to live setlists of being true to his legacy and visiting different touchpoints and styles of his former charges while still looking to explore the new.
Taking ideas originating in the Ghosts Invited sessions and wrapping them into a contained concept, of the five tracks, no two are the same in style. Despite the diversity between songs, matters unveil as a cohesive whole presented through a clever dynamic that builds from a whisper to an explosion, before leaving us with a quiet aside.
Opener ‘The Seed’ is reflective with languid, hushed vocals adding to the atmosphere, reminiscent of quieter Tiamat in those moments on Wildhoney and Deeper Kind of Slumber (Century Media) when they absolutely got it right, a cool motif that sounds like it belongs in mystical TV show theme dancing in and out and binding together the nine-minute ushering.
‘The Humming Mountain’ sees slow, glassy guitars underpin a soft croon while eerie keys flitter; not a million miles from the more understated elements of more recent Enslaved offerings. ‘The Dwell’ jars us out of our thoughts as taut, blackened riffs scythe in unexpectedly under Gaahl’s languid drawl before opening out into a dramatic swirl with Eld’s urgent bass driving through the void. ‘Awakening Remains – Before Leaving’ brings serrating guitars that cut and scratch while over them Gaahl’s intonations evoke images of In The Woods… and the early creative explosion that emerged from second-wave Black Metal, giving a ritual feel as a blackened epic coda is built towards. The mini-album closes out with ‘The Sleep’, an atmospheric, if featherweight, last instrumental question as the dynamic circle is completed.
Somewhat of an enigma, Gaahl continues to be creatively interesting, true to both his roots and his progressive yearnings.
Buy the album here: https://season-of-mist.com/bands/gaahls-wyrd/
7 / 10