There’s something debauched and carefree about Gnosis new slab The Offering of Seven. This is tightly-delivered, doom-laden death metal with a charred, blackened edge but Gnosis is also undeniably, well, fun. Is it the Hellenic hues of the blackened sound, despite this enigmatic band hailing from the other side of the world in Florida? The gratuitously rhythmic battering done with hypnotically, tribal style? Or the Running Wild cover Evil Spirit that is done as all good covers should be – so many shades from the original but while keeping the bombastic spirit of Hamburg’s most famous Jolly Roger obsessed pirate crew (and more than enough to have me unpacking my old Running Wild discs from the back of the cupboard)?
From the worm-like opening chords wriggling up from the depths on Devils and Spirits, Gnosis has more than ably perfected their chosen style which is unfussy and uncluttered in its approach. A stripped-down sound that harks back to simpler times and basement-dark atmospherics. The effectiveness is clear in the in the laser-like precision of tracks like Dark King On The Mount that kicks off with doom chords that wouldn’t be out of place on a Candlemass album (although the vocals are more the breathless, hoarse death metal variety than Messiah-like) before transforming into twisted, grinding black metal riffs and haunted-house bass-lines that provide a nice contrast to the almost jaunty opener. The almost obligatory use of a faintly heard keyboard sounds completes the picture and adds a nice touch to tracks like Golden Wings – a highlight of the album where the band allows its otherwise stifled emotions to soar. The salute to the old school, early 1990s pre-black metal sounds of bands like Rotting Christ is crystal clear with the band name-checking the likes of Varathron and Thou Art Lord and Mystifier.
If I’ve any complaints about this entertaining foray – because there is plenty to like here and the band does its job of emulating its idols with dutiful application – it feels like there’s something missing. By the final track it feels a bit like The Offering of Seven is running out of steam despite the power with which it’s all undoubtedly delivered and the approach does at times feel more clinical than raggedly emotional like, say, Varathron and Mystifier and lacking the ethereal magic of Thou Art Lord. Perhaps the fact that there are only six real tracks (including the cover) – and tracks that by their very nature are simply structured – doesn’t help so just as you feel like you’re getting to figure out what’s going on, it’s all over. Particularly as the final proper track was probably the least impressive leaving you with the feeling that things have fizzled out rather than gone with a bang. All good fun but the album’s brevity left me with an overall feeling of a workman-like approach that a few extra tracks could perhaps have solved.
(7/10 Reverend Darkstanley)