Gehenna - _Malice_
(Cacophonous Records, 1996)
by: Steve Hoeltzel (
This one is a tough call. On the one hand, Gehenna are a band who possess tons of talent in composing and performing black metal music that stretches the boundaries of the genre, incorporating gothic, thrash, and classical influences while staying (more or less) true to the atmospheric black metal style most often associated with Emperor. On the other hand, though, I find it kind of hard to really get into their stuff. In fairness to the band, there are some undeniably great songs on this release. Opener "She Who Loves the Flames" is so full of twists and hooks that it's impossible not to enjoy; "The Pentagram" rages compellingly from beginning to end; "Ad Arma Ad Arma" displays a cool flair for experimentation. But all in all, I think _Malice_ is a bit lacking in the stark viciousness of the very best black metal. The overall sound is quite reminiscent of Emperor, but with much greater variety in tempos - and with keyboards that tend to dominate the mix in a way that gives the music an overly flowery, sometimes carnivalesque sound. (And I'm not one of these stupid "All keyboards suck!" people - I just think Gehenna goes a bit overboard in their use.) I want a frosty sonic wind coming out of my speakers when I listen to black metal - with this band the result is often more like syrup. Still, they're unquestionably great at what they do, so fans of the Emperor style who want to hear something energetic and interesting should definitely check 'em out.
(article published 10/11/1996)
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