Greece’s Spectral Lore only just released their fourth full-length album last year, titled III, but 2015 has already seen additional material in two lengthy EPs titled Voyager, and the one we’ll be focusing on now, Gnosis. A title that translates roughly to ‘knowledge of spiritual mysteries’, Gnosis is an appropriately named 50 minute listen that explores a wide range of ambient black metal, calling on a number of specific influence. The end of 2015 may be approaching, and the focus for many is certainly on albums reemerging for year-end lists, but it would be criminal to outright ignore this particularly compelling work of art.Spectral Lore is a project conceived from the mind of Ayloss, as the sole visionary and musician of this work. His abilities as a musician are unquestioned, and Spectral Lore has proven to be an outlet for which the full range of his creativity can be communicated. To that effect, Gnosis takes time to analyze, to let the wide range of instrumentation to evolve, thereby allowing the full form of the album to emerge.
At first glance, or listen I suppose, the experimental ambiance of the Gnosis is incredibly soothing. The journeying strings wonderfully carry a listener across vast dreamscapes in a similar way that Obsequiae had earlier in the year with Aria Of Vernal Tombs. Perhaps a bit darker, and a bit thicker in sound, Gnosis has a similar impact on its audience. It is an album that is driven early on by repetitive pacing and rhythmic passages layered over wandering leads, specifically in the foundations of “Dualism” and “Gnosis’ Journey Through The Ages”. The sound is completely carried by the strings, with the muffled quality of the percussion simply implemented to keep the structure in place. Sliding through the latter tracks, like “A God Made Of Flesh And Consciousness” and the closing “For Aleppo”, the leads become more intricate. Acoustic elements are commonly brought into play, showcasing how Gnosis evolves and meanders from its origin to its terminus. It is a creatively designed structure that doesn’t take long to appreciate.
But it’s when you begin to repeat the experience and fully allow yourself to become immersed in the music that the purpose of this album really begins to emerge. The vocals, which are all but hidden from those unwilling to truly focus on these soundscapes, whisper cries from the cosmos — philosophically more advanced than any of us. And once you hear the vocals beneath the more prominent elements of this album, the entire experience transforms completely. The message becomes more defined, and the journey more complex. Furthermore, as you continue to uncover the many layers of Gnosis, the intricate composition of tracks becomes more relevant. While still primarily driven by the strings, the value of the percussion and bass grow with repeated listens. These elements may be well layered because the lead work, but they’re critical to the overall atmosphere regardless. It’s what gives Gnosis a deep, encompassing feeling to it. Gnosis is architecturally unique, but in a way that allows the album to have a targeted impact on an audience — One of soothing, yet complex contemplation.
While perhaps becoming a bit too intricate at times, to the point where it takes away from the meditative nature of the album, Gnosis is otherwise a masterpiece. An album that has tremendous impact on an audience and has the ability to evolve in a very natural, personal way, Spectral Lore continues to showcase an ability to impress with sound musicianship and creativity, but without ever over-complicating things. Fantastic from sound to structure, Gnosis is a notable album in Spectral Lore’s discography and a memorable album emerging in the late stages of 2015.
“Ein Bier… bitte.”