Where so many artists have succeeded in recreating the rotten, swamp-cursed occult majesty of ancient Hellenic black metal just as many have failed. The trouble with the obscure practice of recreating the ambitious naivete of artists not yet capable of realizing their ideas isn’t the fact that more capable artists are relinquishing their own instincts in order to resemble olden ritual; The true issue comes with communicating the value of the resuscitated old coffin spirits to naive fellows who are too impatient to know or admire the historical value of black metals most influential underground sects and movements. Marketing does a fine job of giving examples of the old gods as Varathron, Samael, Mystifier, Mortuary Drape et al., are known quantities to many through forceful association. Yet few flippant digital streamers will truly connect with those old crusted tomes enough to find sublime value in their intentioned generations of worshipers. The appeal could be (but isn’t always) quite obvious with some experience; Anyone following a serious investigation of ‘underground’ music ends up valuing texture and nuance above broadly and obvious strokes eventually. The value of this divergent culture within south-by-southeasterly European black metal comes at a different pace, a waft of jank, and heavily relies on atmospheric depth.
This almost perfectly describes Floridian black/death metal tyrants Gnosis who lay their sound upon the altar of Varathron and Thou Art Lord as much as they incant the South American demonolatry of groups like Hadez and Mystifier. Their debut full-length ‘The Third-Eye Gate’ (2015) surely didn’t get enough attention outside of folks such as myself who hunt down this sort of staggered black metal with purpose. It was a reasonable start for the band and, despite a handful of truly memorable riffs, it found little interest beyond moderate praise. Unflinching in their vision, Gnosis return three years later with a cleaner, infinitely darker experience that is worthy far beyond their first strike. ‘The Offering of Seven’ appears as meditation upon revenge, a creeping curse in spite of the listener, and above all a doom-tinged heavy metal record drowned the in blistering tar of black metal’s deepest swamp.
If the only reasonable description of Gnosis involves reference to other bands it isn’t because they aren’t unique, it is because their sound is specifically referential for a certain smaller fandom. In fact ‘The Offering of Seven’ has the odd keyboards and staggered rhythms of classic Varathron and Rotting Christ-adjacency but their use is as informed by death metal as Christ Agony‘s debut and the drum work is almost fundamentally different throughout. The greater strength of Gnosis lies in how they make sense of those ancient formative structures with their own work reflecting influence without emulating for the sake of association; The doom is heavier, the riffs are more accomplished, the keyboards/synth are more fittingly arranged, and all of this sums to Gnosis‘ own take on the increasingly visible influence of mid-paced ancient black metal mysticism.
If nothing else ‘The Offering of Seven’ finds Gnosis making good on the promise of their debut with a marked improvement in most every aspect while never losing that rough-shod edge that indicates their makers. There are numerous tracks here that I’d recommend and the trouble comes in choosing representative songs rather than just my own personal favorites; The full listen is completely viable but if you weren’t hot for the previous record “Hand of Fates” should show every improved aspect of their sound as well as showcase the more accomplished keyboard arrangements. The duo of “Dark King on the Mount” and “Golden Wings” is the true apex of my interest as the doomed hammer of the first gives way to the blasting furor of the second but I would just as well point directly to the cover of Running Wild‘s “Evil Spirit” which Gnosis have so successfully made their own that it is barely noticeable next to their original tracks. Likewise notable is the closer “The Great Storm” which feels a bit more like the early days of fellow Florida black/death heroes Equinox. Highly recommended.
Spirits escape in mourning. 3.85/5.0
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