Gehenna

Picture of Gehenna

First Spell

Gehenna - First Spell ©1994 Head Not Found
1. The Shivering Voice Of The Ghost
2. Unearthly Loose Palace
3. Angelwings And Ravenclaws
4. The Conquering Of Hirsir
5. Morningstar

The original EP by Norway's Gehenna is definitely an ear-catching, interesting piece of work that showcased the band's black metal leanings mixed with a very somber symphonic atmosphere. Each of these songs are relatively slow, embellished with fairly subtle keyboards that belong well in the mix. On a production note - since I seem to be heading there - the guitars are a bit weaker than what the music might prefer. Vocally, Gehenna travels the tried and true route of a raspy man growling out the fires/gods/conquer-something lyrics. Overall, First Spell is nothing unexpected but rather fairly well delivered and enjoyable.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 10/1999

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Seen Through The Veils Of Darkness

Gehenna - Seen Through The Veils Of Darkness ©1995 Cacophonous
1. Lord Of Flies
2. Shairak Rinnummh
3. Vinterriket
4. A Witch Is Born
5. Through The Veils Of Darkness
6. The Mystical Play Of Shadows
7. The Eyes Of The Sun
8. A Myth...
9. Dark Poems Author

Sometimes you just have to give these black metal bands a little bit of time to warm up. Gehenna, upon initial listen, is quite akin to hearing any sympho-syntho epic black metal band with that tough evil guy growling and screaming ever so echoing in the background. Those fuzzed out guitars and grandscale keyboards don't really add a whole lot of massive distinctiveness to things. Note I said "upon initial listen". Each time I've played this album since it has grown considerably in appeal. Within the mayhem of their chaos exists a multi-layered musical composition that does truly give you the chance to hear something new nearly every time. Gehenna also realizes that a good old fashioned metal riff should not be ignored, as the very smart guitar line at the beginning of "A Myth..." demonstrates. There indeed is a lot of common ground with other Cacophonous artists, including of course Dimmu Borgir. Gehenna however doesn't allow a huge amount of the overzealous need to let keyboards dominate into the songwriting process. Instead, the intelligent production, memorable yet harsh songs and old fashioned talent make this an above average record that anyone into the epic or symphonic side of black metal should check out.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 04/1999

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Black Seared Heart

Gehenna - Black Seared Heart ©1996 Holycaust Records
1. Intro
2. Two Demons Eight Spirits
3. Black Seared Heart
4. Angelwings And Ravenclaws
5. The Chariots That Carried Her To The Grave
6. Outro - Part I
7. Outro - Part II
8. A Witch Is Born
9. Night Of The Serpent's Judgement
10. Midwinter Forest

Black Seared Heart is a hardcore Gehenna fan (is there such thing?) only CD that compiles several early recordings onto one handy shiny slab of plastic. The first seven tracks are from Gehenna's first demo, which apparently only saw fit to issue one hundred copies. The recording is appropriately demo-esque, with a very mild guitar tone and unassuming sound overall. While better than most early black metal recordings, the sound isn't quite as fleshed out as it would be on proper Gehenna releases. The band had already firmly encroached the world of keyboards to add a smoother edge to their sound. "Angelwings and Ravenclaws", which reappeared on the band's EP First Spell, is easily one of the best tracks on the demo. Tracks eight and nine are two songs resurrected from an abandoned studio session where the vocals and keyboards were added later on. Neither track is anything particularly special and suffers from a fairly weak sound. The very last song is from a rehearsal tape that pre-dates the demo. Obviously the sound here is the worst of anything else on this CD. Black Seared Heart suffers from not really having any relevance to a hardcore music collector's needs. While the original demo tapes are somewhat interesting, Black Seared Heart is nothing that requires one to dole out the dollars for the disc.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/1999

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Murder

Gehenna - Murder ©2000 Moonfog
1. Intro
2. Murder
3. Worthy Exit
4. Devout Dementia
5. The Crucified One
6. Perfect Hate
7. To the Grave
8. Trail of Blood
9. Master Satan
10. The Dead

One of the most tiresome trends in extreme metal around 2000 was the movement of many black metal bands towards a brutal death metal sound. More often than not, this move would do nothing more than push a band further into obscurity. Case in point: Gehenna. Now while Gehenna didn't exactly storm the gates with their symphonic black metal sound and revolutionize Norway's extreme metal movement as we know it, they at least were moderately enjoyable. Somewhere along the line, they decided the best way to musically express themselves was to lose all their dynamics and bully their way through songs with nothing more than interchangeable, generic blast beats and forgettable riffs. Worst of all, the vocals were reduced to a monotonous tough guy growl. Murder is an entirely vapid, faceless record that does absolutely nothing to set itself apart. The songwriting is essentially nonexistent. These "songs" are nothing more than a collection of heavy riffs, blast beats mixed with tempo changeups, and some guy hurting his throat. Perhaps the album's only saving grace is that it's barely a half hour long, but that's still an affront to thirty minute segments everywhere. It's hard to say what Gehenna thought they might accomplish by descending into this particular idiom of extreme metal, but it's quite evident they lacked the inventiveness and songwriting talent to pull it off. An entirely terrible effort.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 03/2009

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WW

Gehenna - WW ©2005 Moonfog
1. Grenade Prayer
2. Death To Them All
3. New Blood
4. Flames of the Pit
5. Silence the Earth
6. Werewolf
7. Abattoir
8. Pallbearer

Throughout Gehenna's entire existence, they were constantly a band playing second fiddle to the more illustrious and frankly better bands of whatever style they tried to play. Early on it was a symphonic black metal approach which, to be fair, wasn't too bad, but as the band aged, their dalliance with a blackened death metal style further relegated them to the cutout bins of extreme metal. WW was their most recent studio release (six years have elapsed since this particular release as of this writing) and although it was an improvement over their utterly mediocre previous release, it still demonstrated precisely why this band was generally overlooked, despite having notable members in their lineup over the years.

For WW, Gehenna tried a style that sounded like a mixture of Enslaved and Immortal, complete with croaked Abbath styled vocals. Unfortunately, WW lacks the riffology of Immortal and thoroughly lacks the abounding creativity of Enslaved. In this attempt at extreme metal, they mostly come across as a second rate clone and fail to deliver any songs of signficance. Possibly the most telling trait of the album is that it didn't entirely annoy the heck out of me like Murder did. So I suppose that rates as an improvement, but not exactly something guitarist Sanrabb might want to claim as a victory of any sort.

Like many bands in the 2000s, Gehenna attempted to make their sound clinically heavier, but ultimately fell into the vortex of banal, mediocre acts who should generally be forgotten.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2011

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