After unceremoniously ousting founder member and guitarist Infernus from Gorgoroth, bassist King ov Hell and vocalist Gaahl (who had become the main writing force within the band in recent years) set about continuing with the same monicker. However, two years of legal wrangling resulted in Infernus retaining the band name and releasing the perfectly decent but somewhat lacklustre ‘Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt‘ with Pest back on vocals. Having then re-recorded their “Under The Sign Of Hell” album last year one wondered if they had come to a creative trough and now Pest has departed the band it seems yet further instability dogs God Seed.
Since the split, King has busied himself with other projects including the stunning Sahg and the rather bland shouty black metal that is Ov Hell (featuring Dimmu Borgir‘s Shagrath on vocals). Gaahl on the other hand has made forays into musical theatre, film and art whilst becoming the focus of media attention having revealed that he was in a relationship with a well known fashion designer, who just happened to be a bloke.
Having wondered if he would ever return to metal at all, let alone the black metal scene that brought him to notoriety, it was with a sense of anticipation and trepidation that I listened to “I Begin”, the debut offering from God Seed. This appears to be the band that, to all intents and purposes, is what Gaahl and King would have continued as Gorgoroth if the courts had allowed it.
Recent interviews with King show him to be enthused and fired up for this new release whereas Gaahl himself openly stated he found it very difficult to find inspiration at all – surely not a good sign for an artist who has previously been ferocious and focused onstage and in the studio.
With a lot to live up to, God Seed hit the mark from the off with opener “Awake” launching at you like an avalanche of terror. Cold, bitter and harsh – this is dripping with malevolence and has that eerie Bergen stamp all over it.
“This From The Past” has some wonderful keyboard flourishes that have a whiff of seventies loonpant luncacy and at one point Gaahl unleashes a wail reminiscent of the original God of Hellfire himself, Arthur Brown. Geir Bratland who is currently the touring keyboard player for Dimmu features rather prominently and is used to great effect on many of the cuts on offer here.
The whole affair is tightly produced with a firm punch although the familiar expansive echoey black metal sound is maintained. Thankfully it is not the deliberately underproduced tinny shit that so many bands of this ilk feel is necessary in order to be “trve” these days. By Satan’s yellow teeth – Mayhem and Darkthrone‘s early records sounded like that because they had no money and no technology. It’s 2012 and bands need to stop making stuff that sounds like it was recorded in a garage on an 8-track with the singer in a different room and cardboard shoe boxes for drums.
“Alt Liv” is a slower and more majestic attack – still full of bombast and fury, but with a simmering, more controlled feel that calls to mind “Sign Of An Open Eye” from ‘Ad Majorem Sathanas Gloriam‘.
“Hinstu Daga” has more groove to it and a slightly proggy feel that calls to mind Sahg at times and even Enslaved‘s classic “Vertebrae”. Whether working with Enslaved‘s Ice Dale on the road in the touring line-up of God Seed has rubbed off at all in terms of veering away from the pure BM blueprint is mere speculation, but Gaahl‘s vocal range is explored way more here than on previous outings.
With Sir (Trelldom) and Lust (Grimfist) giving life to King‘s devilish riffs and Gaahl sounding as unholy as ever this is the finest thing these Norse scoundrels have put their names to in a long time. Here’s hoping there’s much more where this came from.