Spectral Lore – Gnosis (I, Voidhanger Records)Sunday, 6th December 2015
I, Voidhanger Records is always a label to look forward to. Delivering some of the most captivating, forward thinking black metal on the planet, the label is set to release the second EP of the year for one of its flagship acts, Spectral Lore. While Gnosis may be an EP in name, it certainly doesn’t play like one. Coming in at nearly fifty minutes in length, this release is an album for all intents and purposes.
The critically lauded Spectral Lore is, of course, the work of one man, Ayloss – the mega talented Greek musician who creates some truly engrossing, ethereal and towering black metal for the Spectral Lore brand. With four full-lengths and as many split albums under his belt since 2006 (impressive!), he has basically recorded two new albums this year, with the forty-three minute instrumental Voyager EP, released in May of 2015, and now with Gnosis.
Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge (generally toward the spiritual and mysterious), and on this offering Ayloss delivers a work of meditative, introspective, at times jammy, and ethnic drenched progressive black metal. Where opener “Dualism” feels like a dirge, with the slow and steady groove allowing thick atmosphere to brood and breathe, “Gnosis’ Journey Through the Ages” has guitar riffs a plenty, feeling like a jam session stretching out over the course of the nine minute epic, including Bathory-esque chunks and Eastern sounding scale play. Things get really interesting with track three’s “Averroes’ Search”, which abandons notions of black metal and goes right to traditional sounding Greek folk music (with that ever-present sense of the mysterious, of course).
“A God Made of Flesh and Consciousness” brings spiraling, meaty black metal back to the table, and closer “For Aleppo” is a meditative piece that closes things out nicely. There are lots of stringed instruments on this album, guitar of course is center, as well as more traditional axes (mandolin, etc). Vocals only exist as a whispered, spacey element across the record, so it has the feel of an instrumental release, with washes of whispers. Fusing the Oriental flavors with Spectral Lore’s signature sound is a win, and this experimental release, while perhaps not seminal Spectral Lore, is certainly an interesting and emotive release. Let Gnosis take you away to where East meets West.