There are records that are not meant to be digested and understood first time around. To be challenged is a good thing, and having to spend time to have music relate to you can be a satisfying experience. For example, I had a really hard time getting into Faith No More’s “Angel Dust” when it first landed. But weeks later after much exploration, it transformed my tastes.
I’m not suggesting this record is on the same par as “Angel Dust,” but “De Secretis Naturae Alchymica,” the debut from one-man project Temple of Gnosis, certainly falls into the category of records that need some time. To put it bluntly, it is really bizarre. I can see people having no patience for this thing and rejecting it mere minutes into its run. I have a pretty open mind when it comes to metal, and I had to take some time to figure out exactly what I just heard. I’m still trying to figure out a way to convey just what it is you get on this seven-track, 46-minute collection. I guess we’ll work our way through that. So, even as strange as this record is, I could tell from the first time through that there was something here for sure. The more I listened, and the further I delved into this record, the more I enjoyed what I was hearing and was intrigued by the chaos.
As noted, this band is a single-artist effort courtesy of H.M.T., who hails from Belgrade and got this project off the ground last year. Debut EP “Mysterivm Magnvm” was delivered in limited number not long afterward, and it was merely a precursor to what would meet us on “De Secretis Naturae Alchymica.” The music here is dark and foreboding, and the vocals are some of the strangest parts. Sometimes they are spoken, but in a way that sounds like it’s setting the stage for a videogame or a movie. They are creaky and dramatic, always pushing the plot forward. At other times, there are savage growls that work their way into the mix of smeary doom, death, and black metal that he swirls to his command and uses to mystify. And confuse.
“Unto the Earth” is one that feels like the stage-setter for an apocalyptic game, with dark synth wafting in, and the alien-like dialog beginning to plan the seeds. Talk of philosophers and witches are afoot, while spacey weirdness settles in and sends you on your way to “Serpetnivm.” There, the doom drapes drop, while organs swell and the drums begin to decimate. The vocals turn to cavernous growls, feeling chilling and inhuman, while later they warble while the music sends cosmic charges. Dialog returns, while we head back into doom horror, chants and oddness swell, and a long synth passage takes us out. “Sol Katharsis” again feels like something that originates in deep space, with haunting organs pouring down, and a thick doom fire begins to burn and generate thick black smoke. Blistering power and noisy ambiance mix together, and a beastly, yet liturgical, final few minutes let the song settle into dust.
“Tree of Life” opens amid a storm, with birds chirping and an elegantly doomy passage unfurling. There’s a strange groove to the melody here, as well as a ghostly chilliness before the guitars warm up and begin bustling. The growls bubble underneath with abrasive guitars creating wounds and monstrous howls caving in your chest. Then the pace turns, the storming re-emerges, and the creaky dialog tells the story of Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge. The tale never has sounded so scary. “Discipvli H.Trismegistvs” is another slab of dark doom, with warped speaking, searing growls, and bells chiming, seeming to hint at bad things ahead. The track plods along, as dialog that sounds delivered by a death god spreads, and the track grinds to an end. “The Twelve Keys” has bells sounding, with a cloud of murky sound hovering over, and buzzing dialog cutting paths. The song has a rather glacial pace, scraping across the earth while guitars burn, voices swirl, and the track fades into the dark. Closing instrumental “Absolvtio” is almost like a launching off to push the record and Temple of Gnosis back into the clouds, with a haze your head can swim in and the final moments trickling off into the ether.
I’m curious to hear the reaction to “De Secretis Naturae Alchymica,” as it should vary wildly. I can see people running for cover and reacting with baffled confusion. But I really like this thing, and as strange and off-putting as it may seem on the surface, it contains a lot of mystery and substance underneath. Curiosities such as Temple of Gnosis are a great thing, and I’m super curious to hear what H.M.T. dreams up next.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/templeofgnosis
To buy the album, go here: http://eshop.atmf.net/
For more on the label, go here: http://www.atmf.net/