Gevurah – Gehinnom [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

I was unaware of Gevurah prior to this year, and I’ve really been missing out. The mysterious Quebecois duo utilizes an eerie, dissonant flavor of black metal to explore Jewish mysticism and the esoteric left-hand path. Their name, Gevurah, refers to one of the emanations of the infinite—to be reductive, God—specifically the ‘left hand’, denoting judgment. Previous LP Hallelujah! traded in the dark obscurantism and enigmatic melodies of the esoteric, and looked upward in awe. But Gehinnom—whilst retaining notes of dark atmosphere—has the force, bleakness, and inevitability of the unfathomable eschatology that follows with the divine. For Gehinnom connotes the place of torment that awaits the wicked after death—an iteration of Hell. You can expect ferocious neo-second-wave assaults, spliced with creeping Deathspell Omega-esque dissonance and atmosphere and cut with manic howls. Gevurah imbue everything with a heavy immediacy and franticness that make the straightforward sound fresh and urgent and add weight to the scattered passages of echoing melancholy melody.

Gehinnom is at once punishing and portentous. With fanatical energy X.T whips up firestorms of blastbeats and relentless, crashing beatdowns. All the while yowling and baying in a hoarse, throat-rending register that evokes the tortured soul undergoing a final transformation. The riffing—performed by X.T. and A.L.—is equally fierce, consisting of walls of whirlwind sound and rising up to urgent, sinister refrains. These storms settle from time to time, making way for smokey, or solemn spaciousness. Whether that’s void-like blackened doom (“At the Orient of Eden,” “Gloria in Excelsis Deo et Ira ad Homines in Terra”), or mystic, string-accompanied plucking (“Gehinnom,” “LV 16:22”). Those latter two tracks are instrumentals, but their presence is justified by their ominous scene-setting calm, “LV 16:22” additionally serving as a welcome midway respite. Full songs move through that pure blackened ire, burning melodies and echoing atmosphere so assertively that they feel half the length they actually are.

The whole is suffused with a feeling of ritualism. Vocals carry a boding not only in their mania—such as the joint howls in “At the Orient…,” and “Blood-Soaked Katabasis”—but also in their recurring turn to snarling whispers (“At the Orient…”), grave, drawling speech (“Towards the Shifting Sands”), and chanting singing (“Memento Homo…,” “Gloria…”). Meanwhile, the lamenting minor melodies that break out, accentuated by irresistible, pounding beats (“At the Orient…” “Blood-Soaked Katabasis,” “Gloria…”) carry a religious ecstasy recalling the apex of a ceremonial dance. Equally, the slower, more musing melodic passages (“Towards…”) are sacramentally introspective, approaching even the hypnotic realms of Schammasch. It really helps that the riffs flirt frequently with an expressive fluttering that makes them even more thrilling. And it helps that the mix allows the inexorably beating percussion, demented howls, and twisting guitars an equal presence. As these respectively crash, wail, and dance around your ears, and slide from merciless ardor to eerie sincerity, you’ll hardly notice the three-quarters of an hour slip past.

Gehinnom may be one step more accessible—simple, even—than Hallelujah!, but it’s two steps more gripping. Gevurah’s uncompromisingly intense approach translates to a thoroughly compelling piece of black metal. Spiritually, this album might dwell in the shadows, but it deserves to see the light.

Tracks to Check Out: ”Blood-Soaked Katabasis,” “Towards the Shifting Sands,” “Gloria In Excelsis Deo, Et Ira Ad Homines In Terra”

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