Some of the most grating and often least interesting people in the world are the ones who think they know everything and that another’s unique worldview could not possibly have any merit. I know a few people like this, and they never disappoint in the frustration department. Some of these folks can’t comprehend opposing opinions in their tiny little speck of the world, and their branching beyond that likely would make their blood vessels burst.
That very idea must make Greek musician Ayloss want to ball up in a corner and shake. Not only did he dip into his own musical influences around him as of late, but he branched out beyond his comfort zone to a place many people in his shoes might not find relatable. For his latest Spectral Lore release “Gnosis,” Ayloss immersed himself with Far Eastern music and styles and used those to influence what he did from his standpoint as a metal musician. It’s not a regurgitation of things he heard; rather it’s his way of reflecting what got into his bloodstream and drove his creativity. All the while, the balance between the Eastern and Western worlds came into play, how each half acts, and how there are incredible opposites at work. I often shudder when I hear people talk of those in other parts of the world and question their behaviors or their rituals (especially when it comes to religion or spirituality). Well, right back at you. What you do and think probably seems really strange to someone a world away from you. Who is right? No one. It just is what it is, and it does not need justification. It definitely could use a heavy dose of understanding.
“Gnosis,” which means knowledge but goes past that basic idea into themes of enlightenment, is a pretty fitting choice for the title to this EP. Oh, it’s deemed an EP even though the thing runs 49:30. See, not everyone’s concept of a single thing like an EP computes everywhere. On this record (the second part of an EP project Ayloss released this year, the first being all-instrumental “Voyager” in May), there is doom, black metal, ambience, and plenty of atmosphere. If you go into this with no knowledge of what’s going on here, you’d think this, too, was an instrumental release. Instead, the vocals blend into the background almost like a ghost’s whisper. The words are there, and if you open yourself up enough to absorb what’s going on, you will be able to hear them.
The record opens with 8:53 “Dualism” that emerges slowly like a quiet rain shower, with guitars charging and sounds swirling. Doomy riffs arrive and darken the scene, while cosmic keys bleed out, the pace sprawls, and the vocals mix right into the background colors. The song continues to progress until it fades into space hiss, and then it’s on to 9:15 “Gnosis’ Journey Through the Ages” and its abrasive, chilling start. The melodies cascade and even churn, with a definite Far Eastern feel to the music and the voices feeling tornadic and strange tearing in and out of the piece. Later on, the guitars create a thrashy crunch while the emotions bleed over and eventually fade out. “Averroes’ Search” follows, opening with clean playing and then heading into what feels like a dusty desert. The guitars are plucked with great passion, while shakers give off a peaceful vibe, and the melodies seem to explore the world. The back end takes a dirty trail, with hand drums pulsating and darkness swallowing everything whole.
“A God Made of Flesh and Consciousness” is the longest cut at 14:06, and it begins with foreboding, sinister-sounding riffs that bubble to the surface. The vocals hiss underneath, while the melodies chug and stymie as layer upon layer is applied to the foundation. The pace later calms for a bit, letting the guitars trickle, while the intensity builds back up over time. Black riffs spills woe, the path hits the thick tar pits, and the playing stomps away through a black metal-stoked blaze. Closer “For Aleppo” (I assume this is inspired by the Syrian city) floats on a bed of synth and atmosphere, with light surges stinging and a trance-inducing haze enveloping. Acoustics trickle their way into the picture before they become more aggressive and punchy. The melodies snake their way through the murk, as the mind-altering passages continue, flutes flutter, and the senses are numbed slowly. The bulk of this track feels like one that’s setting you into a dream state, allowing you to reach out, understand, and find some final rays of enlightenment before the trip comes to an end.
Spectral Lore certainly has been one of the more interesting bands in metal and extreme music over the past decade. With four full-lengths and a slew of smaller releases such as “Gnosis,” Ayloss has become a go-to musician when you seek an unpredictable journey packed with meaning and substance. Each time out, he takes you somewhere completely different both creatively and spiritually, and “Gnosis” once again pushes the listener to take a trip that could reinvent how you think of music and the world.
For more on the band, go here: http://spectrallore.bandcamp.com
To buy the album, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/shop/
For more on the label, go here: http://i-voidhanger.com/