Spectral Lore - Gnosis review

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Band: Spectral Lore
Album: Gnosis
Release date: December 2015

01. Dualism
02. Gnosis' Journey Through The Ages
03. Averroes' Search
04. A God Made Of Flesh And Consciousness
05. For Aleppo

Spectral Lore's III, the band's last full album, released in 2014, was an avant-garde, progressive black metal gem, floating in an ocean of mesmerising, cosmic, dark ambience and aiming to provoke the dreamiest of journeys. Following this, Ayloss's one-man band crafted a trilogy of EPs (Voyager, Gnosis and Fossils) with an even more experimental approach and released them in less than a year's time. Spectral Lore's music encountered in full-length releases is multifaceted and multilayered; however, each one of these EPs explores and experiments with mainly one specific style. Gnosis is a musical synthesis of the east and the west, with extensive use of folk and oriental elements and it is probably the best of the three.

This is a release that clocks in at just under 50 minutes, which is enough to qualify for LP status; however, it is considered an EP because of its experimental nature (as well as the other two parts of the trilogy). The word "gnosis" means "knowledge" in Greek and in this case it is used in the sense of mystical enlightment, something which can be easily deduced when reading the lyrics. These tend to revolve around philosophical and spiritual issues, synthesising seemingly opposing cultures, as it is clearly outlined by Ayloss's words: "let me become a bridge between east and west."

The lyrical concept is very well accompanied by the music, which is essentially oriental with metal instrumentation, a fusion of folk music from Greece and its surrounding areas, mixed in a more European and western way. Unlike Voyager, Gnosis has vocals, but they are used as part of the instrumentation and never play a protagonistic role. What is heard are whispers and distant screams, tucked between the distorted guitars to enhance the atmosphere. The electric guitars are brought forward in the first two songs, while traditional stringed instruments are more prominent in the largely acoustic interludes "Averroes' Search" and "For Aleppo". Black metal is almost exclusively represented in the magnificent "A God Made Of Flesh And Consciousness", which is my favourite and is a 15-minute-long opus with powerful tremolo riffs that build up to a spectacular climax in the end. The structure of this song is the only thing missing from the other tracks; even though the music in this EP is beautiful and captivating, there seems to be a lot of content and improvisation, a labyrinthine collection of ideas that wander in different directions with no beginning or end. But having said this, let's just remember again the purpose of all three EPs, which is boundless experimentation.

The cover of Gnosis is "Lycinna", a painting by John William Godward. It depicts a woman looking melancholic, nostalgic and maybe even trippy. Mastered by Colin Marston (Krallice, Gorguts), the long and mid-tempo songs of this release reflect this mood exactly. The musical journey becomes more interesting and intriguing upon repeated listens, since each time a new element is discovered that was evading before. With the right mood, it can really take your imagination to otherworldly territory, on a trip somewhere between the conscious and the unconscious, to a place not entirely oriental and not distinctively western, either; a place similar to where Spectral Lore comes from. Give it time and you will be rewarded.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 9
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Production: 8

Written by nikarg | 06.05.2017


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

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