Gehenna

According to some gospels, when Jesus Christ referred to Hell, he often used the word Gehenna, which was actually the name of Jerusalem's garbage dump -- where fires were constantly kept burning to cope with the city's refuse. Fast forward roughly 2,000 years and the name was adopted by one of Norway's most influential black metal bands, which formed in the town of Stavanger, in January 1993, in the wake of local forefathers Mayhem's ascendance, and integrated a now heralded generation also including such contemporaries as Emperor, Enslaved, Darkthrone, and Ulver. Initially comprising vocalist/guitarist Sanrabb, guitarist/bassist Dolgar (real name Steffen Simenstad), and drummer Sir Vereda, the initially nameless project that would become Gehenna recorded a pair of demos, Black Seared Heart and Ancestors of the Darkly Sky, in their first year, before earning their Scandinavian black metal stripes in dubious fashion when the drummer joined several other more prominent scene members behind bars. Even so, by the following year, Sanrabb and Dolgar had drafted bassist Svartalv, keyboardist Sarcana, and drummer Dirge Rep (aka Per Husebø), played their first local shows, and recorded a debut mini-album entitled First Spell for Head Not Found Records. Still widely regarded to be their definitive work, First Spell showcased a unique style of black metal, both somber and melodic in nature, and earned the group a new recording contract with Cacophonous Records, which also released subsequent efforts Seen Through the Veils of Darkness (1995) and Malice (1996) to serious acclaim in the underground metal world. But Gehenna almost came to a grinding halt in 1997, when internal tensions led to Svartalv's departure to found thrash band Nocturnal Breed, Dirge Rep's defection to Enslaved, and Sarcana's retirement from the scene. Sanrabb and Dolgar would re-emerge the following year with a new album entitled Adimiron Black for Moonfog Productions, and new members E.N. Death (bass), Blod (drums), and Damien (keyboards), but the latter would soon be dismissed due to Gehenna's distinctly more aggressive sound. In fact, by the release of 2000's Murder, Gehenna had reinvented themselves as a death metal band, leaving many observers puzzled. Come 2005's WW, they'd once again returned to their haunting black metal roots, but time has yet to tell whether their fans returned to it with them. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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