First envisaged by vocalist Gaahl and bassist King ov Hell in early 2009, immediately following the court decision that awarded ownership of Gorgoroth's brand name to founding guitarist Infernus, the band known as God Seed was surprisingly just as quickly put on ice -- no Scandinavian winter pun intended. Turns out those lengthy court battles not surprisingly drained and disheartened its protagonists, leading Gaahl to briefly "retire" from the black metal scene while King recruited Dimmu Borgir frontman Shagrath to finish and release music originally intended for Gorgoroth (and then God Seed) under the Ov Hell moniker via 2010's The Underworld Regime. No amount of controversy or despondency could keep one of Norway's most prolific (errr, controversial and despondent) black metal duos apart for long, however, and so Gaahl and King duly resurrected God Seed within two years, calling on able-bodied henchmen to help them deliver 2012's aptly named I Begin through Norway's own Indie Recordings. Moreover, as befits an album straddling such life- and career-changing circumstances, I Begin simultaneously nods to the pair's past exploits and then breaks free of the restrictive B.M. aesthetic virtually demanded of Gorgoroth material. Among the former, one finds relatively safe (probably the first time "safe" has been used in any association with these corpse-painted fiends) but always contagious black metal offerings ranging from the blast-beaten "Aldrande Tre" to the more deliberately dread-inducing "From the Running of Blood" -- all of them tastefully arranged, no matter their inherent violence. And among the latter, one sees those extreme sonic familiarities enhanced by grander symphonic ambitions ("Lit"), eerie abstract noise soundtracks ("Bloodline"), and, most common of all, warm ‘70s prog rock organs that evolve into space age synthesizers ("Awake," "This From the Past," "Hinstu Daga," also boasting clean gang vocals). In fact, one is almost tempted to attribute God Seed's experiments with these sounds to the psychedelic black metal exploits of Nachtmystium's Black Meddle albums -- if the concept of Norwegians learning anything from American B.M. bands weren't so utterly preposterous, of course. All kidding aside, though, I Begin dispenses a worthy new chapter to Gaahl and King's formidable body of work, as well as the promise of new endeavors, free of the legal distractions that have clouded recent years.
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AllMusic Review by Eduardo Rivadavia