Lux Nigredo, the second full length from Floridians Grave Gnosis, loosely means illumination of putrefaction or decomposition. And being that this album is based on the steps to Transcendent Death, I’d say this loose translation is somewhat accurate whether intended or not. Its foundations are in black metal—and death metal to a lesser extent—and its beauty is in its atmospheric and trancelike presentation. Even through the, at times, muddled production and astoundingly dizzying passages it is an album that beckons repeat listens to fully grasp the material and even then the feeling is one of barely scratching the surface of music versus meaning.
Whether anyone gets the meaning behind the album and its passages, the music itself stands on its own extremely well. The balance of straight up raw black metal (“Saturnian Majesty”), ritualistic energy of “Sokushinbutsu,” lifeforce vapor of old school death metal in “Subverting the Life Force Current,” and the wickedly evil chants in “Noctifer” all make this album work as well as it does. It asks for undivided attention to grasp the relentless battering of blast beats and vicious trem-play and while it does slightly suffer from clarity in the production department, it’s all part of the plan. Trust me on this, it will all open up and make perfect sense after a few spins and after the album casts its spell. And that’s one of my biggest takeaways here, I just can’t put it down.
Grave Gnosis have never been a band that makes ‘skip track’ albums. Their work is intended to be experienced as a whole and while, on the surface, any track is bliss to extreme metal fans simply out for a joyride, it’s on long plays that this kind of brutal oozes into your brain like the swamps of their locale ooze on hot summer days. And, as a bonus, get into their credo and dive headfirst into The Codex Adversum while playing Birthing, the demos on Saturnian Majesty, or this album and you’ll be a little closer to what makes them tick. As a testament to where they are in their career; Birthing favored haunting atmospherics and Saturnian favored ripping black metal, and now with Lux Nigredo they have the best ‘all in’ and most cohesive approach they’ve ever done. In other words, if asked what album to start with I’d say this one and then work backwards. However, there’s no wrong answer to that question.
Whether you’re on the path to Theistic Satanism enlightenment or just on the prowl for an excellent black metal album with bits and pieces of all sorts of extreme metal, Lux Nigredo delivers on all fronts. Here, the band holds nothing back and offers the best and fullest version of themselves since their inception. Literally, this is all killer and no filler.