If there has been another album this year as startlingly diverse and adventurous within its confines, providing a truly coherent passage from start to finish than Gnosis, it has so far been hiding away. The new creative incitement from Chicago metallers Kastasyde, the release is a fascination on first listen, a captivation after more eager plays, and an eventual obsession over time. Some offerings hit you straight between the eyes and others make a smouldering proposal leading to the same success. Gnosis is both persuasions at the same time and a release destined for best of year nominations.
Formed in 2001, Kastasyde has released a couple of demos, a pair of well-received albums, and a similarly successful EP. Their ever evolving sound has also lured in comparisons to the diverse likes of Mastodon, Acid Bath, Napalm Death, and Machine Head, suggestions sure to expand as Gnosis continually unveils its inventive persuasion and colossal depths. Inviting a guest guitar solo from Black Dahlia Murder guitarist Ryan Knight as well as lap steel guitar contributions by Justin Spring within the album, the quintet of vocalist Jarrett Roberts, guitarists Eric Kornfeind and Jerome Marshall, bassist Dustin Roberts, and drummer Garry Naples (Novembers Doom) take little time to rile up and bewitch the imagination with their highly anticipated album, quickly giving progressive extreme metal and metal in general, a new protagonist to get excited over.
Gnosis opens with Natural State and instantly has attention enthused as a thumping of beats match the roaming exploits of guitar and bass. It is a tenacious and fiercely inviting start luring the listener into a subsequent inferno of vocal hostility, ferocious rhythms, and hungry intensity. Death metal, hardcore, and groove metal unite in the maelstrom of ideation already badgering ears and lighting thoughts, the gripping onslaught providing an increasingly more expansive landscape of sound with each passing twist and moment. As the track spins through essences of noise and progressive rock as well as a blackened malevolence, things continue to enthral and excite. It is an impressive and seriously busy opening to the album but one which never piles on the invention and thickness of its creative tapestry so that things are smothered or missed, or indeed under appreciative. In saying that though, as song and album prove over time, each listen only reveals new and fresh nuances which only increase the pull of its presence.
The following Buried in the Sky continues in the same vein but with a distinctly individual character. Jarrett Roberts’ vocals once more squall with expression and magnetic persuasion as the guitars of Kornfeind and Marshall simultaneously scorch and dance over the senses. Their union alone ensures a hungry appetite but with the throbbing bass adventure offered by Dustin Roberts a prowling enticing alongside the rapier swings of Naples, greed becomes involves, especially once the song slips into a flowing passage of melodic rock deeded imagination. It is calm in the storm and more, a Stone Sour-esque crooning laying out an evocative tempting to get fully involved with before the drums raise their energies and enterprise to lead song and ears into a ruggedly tempestuous roar.
The album’s epic title track is next, ten minutes which alone provides an intensive exploration of sound and emotion as extremes and contrasts again collaborate in a mouth-watering landscape of craft and ingenuity. A gamut of provocative atmospheres and flavours are woven into the turbulent flight, the suggestion that there is something for everyone in a song never a truer claim.
The melodic beauty of In the Spiral with its sultry ambience and crooning vocal incitement comes next, the song a seductive ballad as powerful in its creative voice and feeling as the blazing fury of Blackheart which follows. As its predecessor, the song is outstanding, a hellacious rage of rock ‘n’ roll sculpted with the richest armoury of fierce metal textures. It too, and as now expected is equally a web of uniquely different and seamlessly aligned flavours and ideation; ears and imagination once more being constantly challenged and rewarded.
Never At Peace is the next gloriously inventive brawl on Gnosis, a fusion of hardcore and metal which twists and rampages like a dervish but equally creates a melodic and contagious roar which is as predatory as it is warmly bracing. With its brilliance and adversarial invention just outshining the peaks already making up the album, the track takes best of honours before being almost matched by the mesmeric radiance of Empyrean. Opening guitar enterprise and its subsequent endeavour has a Steely Dan feel to it whilst the sultry and mystique lined melodies and imagination which veins another powerful song, seduce like a mix of Motherjane, In Flames, and KingBathmat.
Both tracks are breath-taking in their unique ways leaving the closing Tiamat a formidable task to ensure the album ends on a similar high. Bedlam is not quite the right word for the might and tempest of the thrilling finale, but best describes the whirlpool of adventure, ingenuity, and sounds colliding and colluding fluidly in the inimical emprise. In many ways the song sums up everything about the album and indeed the creative intent of Kastasyde, and yes it leaves Gnosis in as impressive a state and stature as it started and indeed further climbed to.
Kastasyde was a new introduction to us with Gnosis but leave with the words best of year challenger and major breakthrough release on the lips.
The self-released Gnosis is available now @ http://kastasyde.bandcamp.com/album/gnosis
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