Nuclear War Now! Promo Reviews: Gnosis and Ill Omen
What’s that? You want more music from the esteemed Nuclear War Now! record label? You got it, amigo. Today I’ve got two tasty treats hand-selected to satiate your appetite for putrescent filth. Feast upon the bountiful offerings of our benevolent label overlords and enjoy Gnosis and Ill Omen.
Gnosis – The Third-Eye Gate (2/28/2015)
Do the names Varathron and Mystifier ring a bell for you? No? Well fear not, faithful listener, because you’re about to receive an education. Varathron are a mainstay of the Greek black metal scene, scouring the land and plunging the scene into the “extremely deep gorge” for which the band is named with a score of vile, blasphemous releases. This band’s killer first full-length, His Majesty at the Swamp, sounds like an angry demon drowning in toxic effluent. Similarly, Mystifier brought an unholy assault from the blackened heart of the rain forest primeval in Brasil. Their sound is reminiscent of a death-influenced swarm of demon hornets driving you to the edge of sanity. Both bands tend to play with more straight-forward song structures clearly influenced by the rebellious second wave of black metal and the murky malaise of the Florida death metal scene.
So why am I yammering on about these two older bands? Well, NWN! is pitching Gnosis as what the bastard hellspawn of these two earlier acts might sound like if that squalling goatling had been born in a Florida mire. Erupting onto the scene in a spray of mud and bile, Gnosis brings a hefty blend of raw black metal and thunderous OSDM on The Third-Eye Gate. The band’s moniker and album title may lead you to believe at first glance that they fare in cosmos-altering dissonance akin to Dodecahedron, but this is not the case. Gnosis’ attack is much more visceral than mental; the band goes straight for your internal organs with the rusty knife of killer, buzzing riffs and plodding, thunderous drums. The vocals back up that dual attack with a throaty warble somewhere between a growl and a scream. The overall effect is menacing and perfectly suited to the sort of rust-contaminated approach contained within. The band’s sound is rounded out perfectly by a warm, bobbing bass that gives some girth to this monster exhumed from metal’s grave.
All in all, the approach is effective. Songs plod along with minor synth flourishes here and there, but the band never loses sight of that pummeling, Obituary-reading approach. Perhaps the true wisdom at play in this cult is a knack for recognizing their own strengths and playing to them to produce a cadre of killer tracks. Each song hits the sweet, headbanging spot without causing the album to ever feel as though it’s bogged down. Eight tracks of old-school fury sandwiched between two spectral sonic rituals. This is a solid attack, so drop your guard and let that rusty gator-knife plunge into your pineal gland.
Ill Omen – Remnant Spheres of Spiritual Equilibrium (1/23/2013)
Originally released on cassette back in 2012, the newly reborn cosmic horror of Remnant Sphere of Spiritual Equilibrium has risen from the lichen-encrusted confines of the dead, dripping city R’lyeh for a nice vinyl makeover. But don’t worry, all the eldritch terror and arcane mysticism that seeped out of the original cassette pressings like the tortuous music of Erich Zann are still present and accounted for. If you’ve never taken Ill Omen for a spin, well, you’re in for a treat.
Blending weird, psychedelic tones with treacherous, menacing doom metal, Ill Omen invite you on a trip through the very worst parts of the multiverse. Guitar lines coil and snake about each track like impossibly large leviathans squeezing the life out of an otherwise bafflingly spacious atmosphere while the drums bounce from the low-rumbling of distant thunder to the cacophonous salvo of the fallen furies to the dying pulse of a drowning soul and everywhere in between. Each song is full of mind-boggling turns and suffocating textures all somehow caged in the trappings of doom metal. This is weird stuff, and you’re never going to know quite where you’ll end up.
NWN! describes this release as a four-part epic telling of the complete and utter end of life. All things, time, space, feeling, thought, life, and even death itself are all condensed into a hellish singularity by the cessation of this apocalyptic journey, and through it all, vocalist IV looms somewhere above you, shrouded by darkness, guiding you with impossible congeries of iridescent spheres not unlike mighty and hideous Yog-Sothoth. The whole affair feels very off-putting and, dare I say, verboten, as though you’ve somehow stumbled through a gateway between worlds and are now witnessing the embodiment of a slow and excruciatingly painful annihilation.
As far as the comparisons go, it’s hard to link any other bands to anything this strange, especially when each track seemingly shifts in mood and tone so drastically. At points the weirder, more cathartic segment of “Natasha” seem to appear, but those visions of frenzied slaughter give way as quickly as they come and deposit you on a Catacombs-esque ossuary of cyclopean proportions. This is definitely doom, but this is doom as rarely presented and filtered through the frozen abominations of The Great Old Ones. Needless to say, I love it.
You can actually hear the digital version of this album on Bandcamp as we speak, so you make sure you purchase it in your preferred format.