The singer of the Norwegian black metal band accused of "offending religious feelings" during a concert in Poland last weekend has rejected accusations that the group had breached the Polish law on protection of animals by displaying the severed and impaled heads of sheep as part of their stage act.
The concert, which took place at the studio of a local TV station, "was never meant to reach the media," GORGOROTH vocalist Gaahl [photo#1, photo#2] told the NRK newspaper. "Producers Metal Mind [who were filming the concert for a future live DVD] bought the sheep heads at a butcher shop. We weren't involved in animal torture of any kind."
In addition to facing possible animal-cruelty charges, the members of GORGOROTH are suspected of having breached article 196 of the Polish penal code concerning offense to religious feelings, according to Miroslawa Kalinowska-Zajdak, a spokesperson for the public prosecutor in Krakow. The maximum penalty for breaching the article is five years in prison.
A TV station in Krakow, which complained about the performance, had acquired broadcasting rights for the show, Kalinowska-Zajdak said, adding that the prosecutor might ask for Norwegian help in questioning group members.
The singer of GORGOROTH is no stranger to the Norwegian penal system, having previously been convicted three times for various acts of violence, according to the newspaper Bergens Tidende.
In April, the 28-year-old Sunnfjord resident has to face charges for what the police have characterized as "extremely brutal use of force."
On the night of February 22, 2002, the GORGOROTH vocalist is said to have beaten and kicked a man in his 40s repeatedly in his head and face so severely that he had to get stitches in his head, nose and mouth. In addition, the man had sustained injuries to his teeth and nose bone.
The victim was admitted into a hospital and is reported to have suffered long-term injuries. As a result of the incident, the victim's lawyer, Robert Fonn, is asking the GORGOROTH singer to pay 100,000 Norwegian kronor (approximately $14,400) in punitive damages. If convicted, Gaahl faces nine years behind bars.
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 $23,000) 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."