Novae Militiae – Gash’khalah (2018) REVIEW

From their inception in 2009 this elusive and shrouded Parisian black metal band have delivered incorruptible occult black metal true to their deeply expressed Satanic beliefs. One step beyond nihilism Novae Militiae seek the Sitra Ahra the ultimate darkness described in the  קְלִיפּוֹת as forces in opposition to holiness. Gash’khalah, when interpreted through Aleister Crowley, itself speaks to the quaking annihilation of all things and those who would break the world into many pieces. With no greater details or lyrics at hand, I am still satisfied in appreciating the pairing of general occult themes with relentlessly delivered French black metal.

Falling from a high place between the brutally hammered attack of Antaeus and the shuddering dissonance of VI, Novae Militiae carved their name in stone with ‘Affliction of the Divine’ EP in 2011 and took roughly six years to wrestle this full-length out in mid 2017. Through location and Satanic themes the comparisons to other French black metal are inevitable but I would suggest ‘Gash’khalah’ does not obsess over dissonance as much as they create a downward-flowing chasm with relentless blasts and descending guitar runs. Within the center of that chasm echo the raw-shouted diatribes and rituals of the vocalist who creates a suffocating tension in the midst of the album’s rapaciously driven wall of sound.

Novae Militiae offer a challenge in that their performances are rhythmically unique compared to many other dissonant occult black metal bands yet, like Antaeus the variation in the drums is entirely minimal. The rasp from the centrally-purged chasmic sound of  ‘Gash’khalah’ is sermon and cruel mockery at once and I find myself forced to focus on the guitar work beyond a few casual listens. I don’t hear the Deathspell Omega influences really begin to chime in outside of the impressive structures driving “Annunciation” and some parts of “Seven Cups of Divine Outrage” but, as the album ends, I felt I was hearing the improved aspects of the band’s sound as well as greater experimentation with unexpected elements.

It is a harsh descent and Novae Militiae‘s violent drumming and shouted mannerisms would force collapse without rest. Within it’s storm of noise several distinct moments do appear in the guitar work but, much of their importance is blurred by the cursing serpent that lords over the listening experience. I found myself satisfied around 40 minutes though the album continues for another 16+ and this is the only ‘fault’ I can find with the overall experiential worth of ‘Gash’khalah’. It could have been more succinct and the vocals were too insistent throughout. If you are a fan of French black metal, and in particular the bands that strive for tensile orthodoxy and dissonant brutality, this record will be a grand discovery.


Artist Novae Militiae
Type Album
Released July 1, 2017 [Digital]May 4, 2018 [Vinyl/CS]
BUY/LISTEN on Sentient Ruin Laboratories’ Bandcamp! Follow Novae Militiae on Facebook
Black Metal

Cradled corpse upon awakening. 3.5/5.0

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