Gehenna were formed in 1993 and were part of the second wave of Norwegian Black Metal, gaining a lot of attention in the Black Metal underground before veering off with a bit of a Death Metal edge to their sound on a couple of their releases, 'Murder' and 'Adimiron Black', before slipping into the shadows for many years, resurfacing in 2005 and returning to their Black Metal roots with 'WW'.
After lurking in the shadows again for another eight years they return with the follow-up to 'WW', in the shape of 'Unravel'.
Their very early releases had a symphonic and almost entrancing quality, but as time progressed their sound became bleaker and darker. With this release, aside from the piano intro on the opening track 'The Decision', that initially hinted there may be a return to more keyboard elements, that aspect is all but gone.
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With this release the sound is doom laden and at times, very bleak, with a harsh blackened edge and the vocals from Skinndød are an even more tortuous gut wrenching gargle than before; I like them a lot.
I am glad that, to a greater extent, they have chosen to progress forward rather than attempt to recreate past glories and produce something that sounds outdated, that doesn't mean the past has been forgotten as title track 'Unravel' gives that hint of a Burzum influence, as does 'Nine Circles Of Torture', the shortest track at under three minutes but one of my favourites; superb drumming, intense guitar riffs, with an early Black Metal feel but with quite an up to date approach.
'Nothing Deserves Worship' has an ominous opening, expanding out into dark and sinister rhythms while 'A Grave Of Thoughts' is bleak, doom laden and tortured with its construct almost monochromatic in tone, also the longest at seven minutes, possibly a touch too long, but a very powerful track that I rather liked.
Intense from the offset, 'Lead To The Pyre' is one of the faster tempo tracks on the album, dense, distorted and unrelenting from end to end with a catchy repeat riff midway.
My favourite track 'End Ritual' has probably the best drumming of the album. Slaktaren's drums could easily have taken a higher profile on some of the other tracks, in some places they are just a little too low profile, their application here helps to make this an engaging track that is fascinating, intense and powerful with the added bonus of a rare and great keyboard segment midway adding even more atmosphere and interest.
Final track, 'Death Enters', opens with a hypnotic but rather long keyboard based intro before the doom sets in. I liked the use of cymbals across the track, they add a bit of depth to the sound, otherwise this track would be a bit of a dirge and towards the latter part the drum work really picks up again to pull it all together.
Overall not a bad album but I think they have more, as yet undiscovered, potential to uncover.
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