GORGOROTH frontman Gaahl was sentenced to 14 months in prison for beating a 41-year-old man and threatening to drink his blood.
The 29-year-old, whose real name has not been revealed by the Norwegian media, was charged with a crime that carries a maximum penalty of nine years in prison.
The black metal vocalist was sentenced to one year and two months in jail by the Gulating court of appeals on Tuesday (Feb. 22), according to TV2. The original 18-month sentence, which was handed down last May, was reduced by four months while the amount in damages Gaahl is required to pay to the victim was increased from 100,000 NOK (approximately $16,000) to 190,000 NOK (approximately $30,400).
Last year, the district court concluded that Gaahl's use of violence was severe enough for him to be charged with aggravated assault. The court of appeals agreed with the disctrict court's findings, but still chose to reduce the 29-year-old's sentence.
The victim, whose identity has not been revealed by the Norwegian media, explained that he went to an after-hours party in February 2002 at the invitation of Gaahl's brother and ended up engaging in a verbal disagreement with Gaahl. However, he denied that he physically attacked Gaahl, as has been claimed by the defendant.
"I wanted to leave," the alleged victim told the court last year. "What I did was react verbally to a situation which I perceived as threatening."
When the 41-year-old man tried to leave the party, the defendant allegedly blocked the exit by standing in the doorway. Immediately after that, the alleged victim felt a hard hit on the back of his head.
"From the moment I got hit, I thought to myself that this was the end. It was as if I could view the whole situation from the outside: Now I'm dying," the man explained.
The 41-year-old told the court of increased use of violence as the night progressed. He claimed to have no recollection of how long it took for the entire episode to transpire, but he indicated that it "seemed to last for a very long time." He also described a situation where he was given a cup in which he was supposed to bleed. He said he was first hit once, then another time because he did not bleed enough. According to the alleged victim, the defendant said, "I'm going to sacrifice you, I'm going to drink your blood."
Taking the stand in her son's defense, Gaahl's mother testified that she found the accusation of blood drinking particularly hard to believe.
"My son is a vegetarian and very fussy about food. He eats absolutely no innards. That is why I do not believe this at all," Gaahl's mother told the court.
The court believed the victim's claim that Gaahl threatened to drink his blood but didn't believe Gaahl actually meant to do it.
"The court believes that the accused said that he would drink the blood of the victim," the court wrote in today's sentence. "The court has no reason to believe that the defendant had intended to go through with it. The statement was rather made to incite fear in the victim by its brutality."
After he was hit in the back of the head, the 41-year-old man made two attempts to get away. The first time, he thought the living room was empty. But when he tried to get up from his chair, he was pulled back down by someone behind him. The second time he managed to exit the house and find his way into his car and drive away. The alleged victim believes that there were two more persons were in the house in addition to the defendant.
Taking the stand in his own defense, Gaahl explained that it was the 41-year-old who started the trouble which led to the physical confrontation.
"He jumped on me and threw me down in a chair. I also remember getting my head banged against the wall," Gaahl testified in court. "He kept hitting at me without stopping. The last thing I remember is that I fell down on the couch and that I lifted my arms to protect myself. After that I must have lost consciousness. The next thing I remember is standing on the floor and [the 41-year-old] sitting in a chair. At that time he was bleeding pretty heavily," the 29-year-old black metal singer explained.
When asked to explain the severe physical injuries suffered by the 41-year-old, Gaahl said, "Anything I would say would be just pure speculation on my part. I don't know what happened."
The defendant's version of what transpired on the night in question directly contradicted the alleged victim's claim that he suffered a brutal assault at the hands of the defendant, causing him to continue to experience medical problems more than two years after the alleged incident took place.
During his testimony, Gaahl explained that he met the 41-year-old for the first time earlier that night at a restaurant. According to Gaahl, the alleged victim made the initial contact.
The defendant, who appeared in court wearing a black GORGOROTH t-shirt, a leather jacket and an upside-down cross necklace, claimed that he took a cab home after closing time and that the 41-year-old was not invited to the after-hours party, but that he invited himself and turned up a bit later. Gaahl explained that the 41-year-old had been drinking at the restaurant but still ended up driving his own car for 30 minutes from the restaurant to the house.
"Everything was calm until we were supposed to leave the house to go to my brother's place nearby," Gaahl said. "It was my brother that was originally going to have the party, but we went to my place first as my brother hadn't arrived yet. When I made the suggestion that we leave, he attacked me," the 29-year-old said.
The court was also shown a cup that is normally used for games of throwing dice. When the defendant saw that the alleged victim was bleeding heavily, he gave him the cup. Asked if he had told the 41-year-old to collect his blood in the cup, Gaahl explained, "I gave him the cup so that he would not to make such a mess in my house with all the blood."
During the questioning, the defendant claimed he did not remember anything that happened after he lost consciousness until he found himself standing on the floor with the 41-year-old sitting in a chair badly injured in front of him.
In 2001, Gaahl was sentenced to one year in prison without the possibility of parole after an episode of violence where he assaulted his victim for hours. In addition, he was ordered to pay 158,000 kronor (approximately $25,300) in punitive damages.
In the 2001 sentence, the court wrote that Gaahl's use of violence was "extremely raw and brutal," adding that there was no "clear motive" for the assault.
Under normal circumstances, Gaahl's previous conviction would have carried a sentence of 90 days in prison, but due to the severity of the crime, the singer was sentenced to 12 months behind bars in addition to being forced to pay the monetary damages. During his court appearance, Gaahl was reportedly dressed in black and wore a plethora of Satanic symbols.
Formed in 1992, GORGOROTH took their name from J.R.R. Tolkien's book "The Lord Of The Rings". Gaahl, who joined the band in 1998, is believed to be involved with at least three other projects (GAAHLSKAGG, SIGFADER, TRELLDOM), all of which feature a musical direction described as "raw, unsophisticated black metal."
GORGOROTH drew international attention in February 2004 after they were accused of "offending religious feelings" during a concert in Poland. The band were also suspected of breaching the Polish law on protection of animals by displaying the severed and impaled heads of sheep as part of their stage act.