Released: 2014, Iron Bonehead Productions
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Dark knowledge and blackened magic are an obvious pairing when it comes to black metal, and here again we see the rise of a band trenched firmly in the occult. Formed in the darkness of the metal underground, Gnosis of the witch is a duo out of the US. While America may not be the most obvious location when considering black metal heritage, the band have some serious precedent with the likes of Wolves in the Throne Room, Inquisition and Nachtmystium all hailing from the country. Forming in 2013 they have already proved themselves to be extremely prolific, their debut EP was released in April 2014 Rún Af Inn Auðr solely on cassette, and now just 4 months later they return with their 2nd release Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar, this time digitally and on vinyl.
Low rumblings and ominous tones enter us into the album as opening track Ek Bjóða Inn wraps us in a haunting soundscape. The 3 and a half minute track provides little in the way of progression but instead serves to create an atmosphere that would not feel out of place in many horror games such as Silent Hill or Amnesia. From there the album descends into an assault of noise and mayhem. Tracks Ormar Eitr and Svartr Úlfar Blóð relentless roll onwards in an unrelenting barrage of noise from beginning to end. Guitar riffs rise above the perpetual dirge while Niðafjöll’s vocals fill in with a desperate, distant screeching. It is however closing song Dauðiþursar Seiðr is that is the strongest by far. Repetitive but mesmerising the guitars claw slowly over drums that switch between blasts and slower, steady beats. Synth sounds add a high and interesting layer of melody glittering over the top before returning to desolate, dissonant sections. Unlike the rest of the album, the song provides much more progression, a sonic passage through the darkness and despair rather than a simple sharp slap in the face.
The record is through and through grim misanthropia and while it is hard to criticise anything about it, there is a sense that it could have been so much more given more time and greater experimentation. There are sections that show real promise, however Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar often becomes bogged down in old school ideals and values that prevent it from realising its full potential. Despite this, Gnosis of the Witch’s skill as a band is obvious, and I look forward to future releases darkening my sound system.