via The Quietus
Dayal Patterson speaks to the enigmatic and iconoclastic Gaahl about the Runes, the difficulties of creativity and why he actually likes open-mindedness
With the majority of its key protagonists operating under pseudonyms and layers of monochromatic face paint – not to mention working within a genre that is inherently esoteric, fiercely independent and often vehemently opposed to mainstream exposure – it’s not surprising that black metal produces very few household names. Indeed, even within the parameters of the wider metal community only a handful of participants have really become anything close to recognisable – Varg Vikernes of Burzum for example, those larger-than-life characters from Immortal and, if we’re pushing the definition of ‘black metal’, perhaps the ever-provocative Dani from Cradle Of Filth.
Vocalist, clothes designer and occasional actor Kristian ‘Gaahl’ Espedal may not be likely to grace the covers of Q, NME, or even Metal Hammer any time soon, but there’s no doubt that his profile has been steadily on the ascent during the last decade. Though undoubtedly best known initially thanks to his turbulent personal life, in recent years the controversies that once surrounded him have been slowly dropping away to reveal one of the more fascinating artists – and eccentric individuals – within the extreme metal scene.
Born in the mid-seventies, and growing up within the isolated Western Norwegian valley that still bears his family’s name, Gaahl first made a name for himself in the mid-nineties within a black metal scene that was still rapidly expanding following a highly influential period of criminal action and landmark album releases. Debuting as the main creative force behind Trelldom (meaning “Slavery”) – a band whose solid but traditional early efforts would be overshadowed by the idiosyncratic excellence of second album Til Et Annet… and third effort Til Minne… – he was later inducted into Gorgoroth, a successful group led by former schoolmate Roger ‘Infernus’ Tiegs, a guitarist who had grown up in the same region as the singer.
Gaahl would find himself increasingly thrust into the spotlight, in part due to the band’s inherently controversial nature (a point highlighted by a now-infamous 2004 show in Poland that shocked the nation’s press and led to lawsuits against the participants) and in part thanks to his own extra-curricular activities, which led to him being jailed on more than one occasion for the use of “extreme violence”, with accusations even being made of ritual torture and blood drinking. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2008 Gaahl announced that he was gay – no small decision for a leading figure within a sub-genre where homophobia is not only relatively common among fans, but where more than one high profile musician has actually been jailed in connection with the deaths of gay men.
Wardruna – Solringen