Way down at the bottom of this extensive feature you’ll find the premiere stream of Towards the Nameless Darkness, a remarkable split by Grave Gnosis and Hvile I Kaos that’s set for a June 21 release by the Red Nebula label. We’d never blame anyone for just going there right now and beginning to listen, but either before or after indulging yourselves with the music you might appreciate the insights and additional information we’ve assembled.
Both of these bands have already made names for themselves among discriminating and demanding listeners, and for those devoted fans anything new from them will be welcome. But we hope the split will also bring new fans into the fold, especially because this split release functions as a teaser for new albums that are in progress from each band — Pestilence Crowned by Grave Gnosis, and Lower Order Manifestations by Hvile I Kaos.
Yet the split is much more than a teaser for something else. It also represents a singular conceptual collaboration, “expressing the nature of parallel spiritual forces, focusing on aspects of the Sun and its Shadow, as seen through the lens of Vedantic Nihilism”.
Within that organizing framework, “Each track represents and invokes a facet of the forces of Moloch as they may be interpreted in both the microcosmic front of the personal psychospiritual, and the macrocosmic sociopolitical and religious egregores. The magickal formulas draw from the alternating modes of invocation and evocation, typified by incitement to fervor and call to action, respectively”.
Emerging from Florida in 2015, Grave Gnosis have used their music as an expression of Theistic Satanism and spiritual philosophy based on the afore-mentioned system of magic called Vedantic Nihilism, which was devised by founding member and Occult author Caine Del Sol, and later explained in the book Codex Aversum.
Last year, through their sophomore album Lux Nigredo, the band presented the first stage of a narrative journey through the formulas of the Codex Aversum, and their focus now has shifted toward the next stage of the journey. Their two songs on this new split begin bringing it into view.
The first of those, “Carnivorous Darkness“, is true to its name. The music hits like a typhoon of pitch-black savagery, a whipping and whirling vortex of dense, violent riffage, spectral synths, horrifying vocal proclamations, and thunderous percussion. Searing and spearing tones erupt from the storm like otherworldly fires, or like sirens from another plane. There’s a feeling of frightening magnificence in these combined sensations, and against all expectations those strange but fire-bright melodic expressions in the midst of tumult become mesmerizing.
But the journey of this one song is a changing one, and as stunningly ferocious as the track is, it’s also elaborate, and the intricacy of its twists and turns is evident despite the dense and wholly engulfing power of the sound. The music brutally stomps and it also convulses in seizures of battering drums, blazing chords, and screaming and growling vocals that seem authentic proof of possession. Thanks to the cello contributions of Kakophonix and the keyboard magic of S. (whose Melotron pedals help fuel the music’s psychedelic strangeness), it also spirals away into nightmarish ethereality, as the bridge to the next song.
That next song, “Vultures“, charges like a feral beast, guitars slashing and writhing, drums hammering, and the vocals again exploding in unchained intensity. It’s an unnerving experience, one whose psychoactive properties are dismal and laden with dread, but also an expression of riotous, terrorizing ecstasy. This beast gallops and gnashes but also weaves hallucinatory spells that spawn visions of hideous splendor, again aided by the cello contributions of Kakophonix and those paranormal keyboard performances of S.
Like the preceding song, “Vultures” is also dense and complex, constantly changing as it blisters and dazzles, bludgeons and intoxicates. It’s enough to leave us breathless.
HVILE I KAOS
If you’re familiar with the previous works of this project (whose name is Norwegian for “To Rest in Chaos”), you’ll know to expect a very different experience from the psychedelic violence of Grave Gnosis, but one that also treats its music as forms of ritual, which becomes even more abundantly evident through the live performances of Hvile I Kaos.
Variously described as “Cellistic Black Metal” or “Black Ritual Chamber Musick”, the music of Hvile I Kaos doesn’t conform to the usual conventions of black metal — and that’s one of the reasons it’s so arresting.
Its sole creator, the cellist Kakophonix (now based in California), has contributed his talents as a guest performer to many other bands (including the likes of Abigail Williams, Osi and the Jupiter, Chrome Waves, Imperialist, and Henry Derek Elis), but has kept Hvile I Kaos alive over the last decade as a vehicle for his most personal conceptions, while bringing guest performers of his own into the recordings.
The two songs on this new split, for example, include guest vocal contributions performed by Elizabeth Gore, Ø and S. from Grave Gnosis, Joseph Spiller, Resurrectionist, and Lindsey Jones, as well as frame drum editing by Joseph Spiller. As in the Grave Gnosis tracks, both songs also drew inspiration from the Codex Aversum.
In the first of the two tracks, “My Hatred Is Just“, the layered music of the cello dances but sounds sinister as it does. It spirals upward and screams, burns and yet betrays anguish. Harsh chants pierce the music, and a strummed guitar and ritual drum-beats give it a rhythmic pulse, around which the cello performance beguiles and disturbs the senses. There comes a time when the rhythm vanishes, and the music grows to a heated fever, and bursts in sudden explosions, manifesting as the throes of possession. At the end, this fascinating piece ends in a way that is both sublime and haunting.
The following piece, “Locusts“, does indeed sound like an insectile plague, and in the midst of those mindless violations the wail of the cello seems to channel misery and despair on an increasingly expansive scale. The guitar and drum again emerge to provide a vivid pulse as the cello skitters and swarms, and voices may shriek from a distance.
Yet the strings also ring like clarions when the rhythms become more slashing, and they simmer and languidly flow in a dark hypnosis, allowing the strummed melody to enliven the mood. Echoing voices return near the end, and the cello exhales….
And so the contributions of each band on this split are indeed very different from each other, even though grounded in similar spiritual conceptions, but both are transportive, both of them captivating and cathartic.
Red Nebula will release the split in cassette tape and digital formats, and you’ll find a pre-order link below, along with social media and Bandcamp links for the two bands.
P.S. Previously we mentioned the atmosphere of ritual that pervades the live performances of Hvile I Kaos, and on that note, the band has just released “Decennial Black Ceremony”, the film of a live performance at a secret location in Los Angeles to celebrate the project’s ten years of creative output. We’ll leave that film (directed by Lone Wolf Productions) after the links. It’s well worth the hour of your time that the full experience requires.