I was going to joke about the new band name of Black Metal’s first openly gay man containing the word “seed,” but I think Gaahl’s been through enough. Truth is, I don’t give two shits about the dude’s sexual preference. Contrary to popular belief, I am 100% not homophobic. I realize it’s what a Gaahl wants, it’s what a Gaahl needs, and ultimately Gaahls just wanna have fun. All I’m concerned with is the quality of the material, Gaahl. However, Gorgoroth’s material has never done much for me, and since this is basically Gorgoroth (Gaahl and main songwriter King ov Hell) with a legally-forced name change, expectations weren’t particularly high for this debut LP. As it turns out, this is very different from Gorgoroth, but not always in the good way. Opener “Awake” signals the arrival of psychedelic and electronic elements interwoven into the duo’s icy Second Wave grimness. One could say Gaahl’s gone wild. Yet his Blackened rasp is as solid as they come. That’s never been the problem. You go, Gaahl. What it boils down to is a severe lack of memorability. Not much of I Begin begs for repeated spins. There are a few engaging moments —the symphonically epic Doomy arrangement on “This from the Past,” the headbangable fury bookended by blast on “The Wound”— but nothing that draws in and hooks the listener. “From the Running of Blood” and “Lit” both ride majestic melodies throughout, but are gutchecked by some truly awkward clean-vocal decisions. Big Gaahls don’t cry. “Alt Liv” is an outer space dweller that refuses to go anywhere, and I’m not even sure what “Aldrande Tre” is. That Gaahl is Poison. It’s safe to say what works for Blake Judd doesn’t always work for King. In the end, this is just another decent-but-forgettable record added to his legacy of mediocrity.
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