Gnosis
The Offering of Seven

Floridian lunatics Gnosis impressed me quite a bit with their debut album of fetid, meat n’ taters, doom-tinged blackened death The Third-Eye Gate in 2015…as the three year mark came n’ went between records I wasn’t sure we’d be getting a new one or not.  Thank Ol’ Scratch because these scum rippers are back with a sophomore outing The Offering of Seven that eclipses their debut in every way, shape and form.  I love dirty, dingy S & M dungeon born death metal like this any day of the week.  These guys kind of remind me if Incantation took their arcane and rustic doom/death and transposed some extra black metal flavor and more pronounced melodies into their material.

This album in particular also calls to mind the sadly long gone Garden of Shadows as well but Gnosis are truly on their own program here, citing a lot of the Greek DM scene as influences and the shoe does fit.  Haggard, blown-out speed bursts are often trailed by lurching midpaced riffs delivered through bleak n’ deliriously heavy instrumental tones (though never overproduced); occasional but 100% album enhancing keyboards add mystical melody in all of the right places but a whole fuckton of pounding drums, scathing vocal sneers, powerhouse doom-y plods and total sonic abrasion walks an equal path alongside melodicism.  They know what they’re doing and they’ve got their sound down pat.

“Intro” sets the stage almost hinting at an entirely different direction.  The influence/atmosphere of Nile and Karl Sanders’ solo work and even On Thorns I Lay styled entrancement is felt strongly and phases into an out of body experience for the listener thanks to the use of Egyptian sitar séances, sinking oceanic percussion and groaning background chants.  This piece makes it all the more powerful when the menacing, poison pumped, black widow bite of a trebly lead riff and its chugging rhythm guitar companion set flame to the skies during “Devils and Spirits’” doom-laden opening.  The bass is fuckin’ warm, belligerent and present like an unruly party guest that came over and drank the entire beer supply, only to give the host no compensation and a middle finger on the way out the door.  It fattens up the music tenfold, allowing for the drumming to bounce off of the low-end with snapping snare/cymbal interplay, shifty rolls across the toms and forceful, choppy double-bass patterns.  Influences of Celtic Frost, Incantation and Winter seem to powerfully compliment the overflow of dirty death, black metal and thrash, effortlessly.  The vocals stick mainly to one register but I wouldn’t change them; a dirty, Christ be damned weighty growl with a sneering blackened touch to ‘em.  At 2:10 a fuckin’ inhumanly sludged-out bass solo crumples into a sleazy crawl that drives the song to a bullying finish of crippled mid-tempo blasts and an overall key change in scenery that showcases right off the bat just how much this band has grown between releases.

An ascending/descending, machine gun guitar spread turns the wholly faster “Hand of the Fates” into a primal flare up that might have been the last thing the dinosaurs ever saw.  Again the bass is a major player in the mix, even when the music mutates in the face of nuclear reactor blast beat meltdowns, fallout afflicted vocals and rapid fire riffs so unrelenting that you’ll think the track will stay in this tempo beyond life after death.  They pull a complete 180 by bringing in baroque, gothic keyboards and urgent doom riffs that kind of reckon and bring me back to Thorns of the Carrion’s meanest, most accomplished work circa the raw beauty heard on The Scarlet Tapestry.  1:48 unleashes a regal, jeweled crown lead lick; gloriously buttressed by slimy doom rhythm textures.  It should be noted that this is the first Gnosis release to feature dual guitarists and the difference really comes alive in moments like this.  When the hulking, heave-ho sludgefucking dissipates, “Hand of the Fates” again goes speed bonkers until reaching a climactic, brain boiling and fuckin’ SHREDDING guitar solo that added another flavor to the record that I had yet to hear.

“Dark King of the Mount” is a real stunner; an album standout where the doom-drunk combination of lead guitar, rhythm riffing, hog fattening bass and percussive strikes from way back congeal into a flawless mass of molten, swampy death/doom magic.  You can feel the pain in every note and the impact lasts long after the disc stops playing.  Abandoned bombed city doom festers across the gutsy blackened death churns; the faster runs peppered by taut beats highlight by dexterous fills as the vocals exhibit last leg of life growling.  Further usage of synths lends a towering, mountainous feel akin to Morgion’s Solinari or On Thorns I Lay’s Orama or even forgotten harsh/melodic doom masters Whispering Gallery though music and muscle wise the tune is more like Warcrab or Incantation.  Regardless of what influences we all pick up on, this song is my favorite Gnosis track to date.  It’ll simultaneously break your body and haunt your mind.

Standing its ground and holding fast against an almighty predecessor, “Golden Wings” uses a minimalist keyboard melody much more frequently than most of the album’s other cuts.  I love it’s placement in the mix, by no means is it prominent but it’s audible consistently throughout the warping, morphing music’s wormy, walking bass lines that even step out on their own from the guitars, spatial double-bass/tom-tom fill combos, melody riffs, murderous blasts, sickened sneer/growl swoops and cerebral heft.  I’m feeling a bit of Garden of Shadows’ heady and progressive yet positively brutal punishment on this split personality goliath.  Tambourine, tabla sounding percussion, uplifting synths and ambient n’ clean guitar/bass renders “Transcendence Part I” into much more than a ho-hum intermission jam…it’s a spectral arrangement reminiscent of Pink Floyd or even Jethro Tull’s pastoral meditations.

Far from a throwaway pisstake of the Running Wild classic, Gnosis’ cover of “Evil Spirit” turns the song on its ear while blending the original’s Dio-era Sabbathisms and Priest nods with some vile Frost/Autopsy heft while sacrificing NONE of the melodic components.  “The Great Storm” is a ruthless, eternity destroying beast that caps off the album’s basic tracklist with some of the most pissed off playing I’ve heard from the guys to date, leaving “Outro” as another weird-out experiment focusing on gothic synth drones, tolling bells, samples of babies being born, demented monk chants and a fire burning…  It’s a disturbing instrumental and furthers Gnosis’ overall prowess to me because even the segue tracks are essential to the album’s progression.

The Offering of Seven sets the bar high for whatever monstrosity that Gnosis decides to conjure next.  This is a moody death metal album if there ever was one and it’s pretty damn nasty, filthy and brutal too.  It’s rawer, more texturally shifting and unusual than a lot of the modern pack but I think that there’s a wide appeal here.  They never deviate from the ferocity of the genre but they know how to make melody and songwriting arrangements work memorably without coming off as cheesy or silly.  This has already gotten a lot of playtime in my neck of the woods and it’ll be getting much more as time passes; recommended stuff for sure.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jay S
October 23rd, 2018

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