Review Summary: Even the most unique flavours get boring eventually.
What is the difference between an EP and an LP? It’s about the length of the release by definition, but Nihilus Ayloss has never really allowed guidelines to shackle his music. After releasing the monolithic III
, he decided 2015 would see the release of 4 experiments in different genres. In this case, he decided to use the EP format to separate these experiments from his fully-realized albums. With the ambient electronic Voyager
clocking in at 43min and Gnosis
almost reaching 50min, it clearly isn’t about length. The goal here is simply to take as long as he needs to push each experiment as far as he can.
For better or worse, Gnosis
is merely a record of his creative process, with slapped-on lyrics to give it a more coherent story and purpose. For all we know, this entire 50 minute EP could only result in a 2 minute Greek folk section in his next full-length album, depending on how the final product is structured and what is needed to fill in the gaps. Each track here was composed in a very deliberate and unique way, without any real thought going into the overarching structure of the EP and how they connect to one another. The two opening tracks are straightforward, mid-tempo atmospheric metal pieces, with eastern-tinged melodies and scales being utilized through that lens. There are no full-fledged folky escapades, and sadly, there’s no real track variation. Both of these tracks are extremely inoffensive, and while certainly not weak, Ayloss flicks on the cruise control and meanders through the first 18 minutes. Most frustratingly, these melodies would be fascinating if they were tossed into one of Spectral Lore’s melting pot LPs in bite-sized chunks, but they simply overstay their welcome here.
The experiment is far more interesting beyond this point however. “Averroes’ Search” features delicate folk instrumentation, one part formless melodies and one part driven by traditional percussion. Though somewhat derivative of the folky centrepiece from III
, albeit less engaging, it’s a welcome respite from the single speed the EP had been travelling at up to this point. “A God Made of Flesh and Consciousness” brings the diversity of old to the forefront, combining both styles presented previously and introducing fierce tremolo riffs (the first and last hint of black metal on the entire release). It all builds to a magnificent climax at the end of the track that, for the first time on Gnosis
, really reminds listeners of how brilliantly Ayloss can craft a song. Sure, this momentum is killed very quickly by the unbearably slow-paced acoustic finale, but the track serves as a powerful focal point for the release, and more-or-less justifies its existence.
Amongst all the repetition and simplistic song structures lie some memorable little gems. Sure, they may be few and far between, but that’s to be expected of something so experimental in nature. Despite all the shortcomings, there’s something positive to take away from it all - if these sorts of highlights exist on all 4 EPs, and they’re put together with the careful hand we know Ayloss possesses, we could be in for a real treat. For the time being however, Gnosis
can only be considered a taster, and a bit of a mixed bag at that.