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Saille - "Gnosis" (CD)

Saille - "Gnosis" CD cover image

"Gnosis" track listing:

1. Benei ha'Elohim
2. Pandaemonium Gathers
3. Blôt
4. Genesis 11:1-9
5. Before the Crawling Chaos
6. Prometheus
7. Thou, My Maker
8. Magnum Opus
9. 1904 Era Vulgari

Reviewed by on February 27, 2017

"In short, if you love symphonic black metal, Saille is the band you want to be following."

Yours truly has been an unabashed Saille fanatic since “Ritu” came out back in 2013, and follow-up “Eldritch” the next year raised the bar even higher, presenting various horror tales in a symphonic black metal form. It goes without saying expectations were exceedingly high for “Gnosis,” with the band again taking a fragmented concept approach based on literature throughout human history. In one of those incredibly rare cases where a band manages to deliver repeatedly and moves from strength to strength, Saille continues the winning streak with this fourth full-length album.

Another solid release under the Code666 Records banner, from those opening creepy keys and deep chants in the background of opening track “Benei ha'Elohim” it's immediately apparent Saille is about to take you on the symphonic black metal ride of your life. In the tradition of the best releases from that particular sub-genre, “Gnosis” doesn't let the keys and string instruments overpower the metal, but instead uses them for emphasis around the vocals, guitars, and drums for a complete package with an overwhelmingly dark atmosphere.

While songs like “Pandemonium Gathers” will strongly bring to mind earlier Dimmu Borgir (particularly in the keyboard department), what's striking about the album is how well Saille is straddling the line between archetypal black metal – rooted in blast beats and tremolo picking – with something more unique and interesting on the sonic front. “Thou My Maker” has a clear Deathspell Omega feel, while ending track “1904 Era Vulgaris” continuously switches tempo from mid-paced to blisteringly fast. These different styles are worked smoothly into the music, and those throaty, raspy vocals keep the album firmly on the more extreme side of metal.

Previous album “Eldritch” had more than a little mythos taint to it, covering entities like Dagon and the King In Yellow,” while the focus this time around is on myths of acquiring knowledge, from the Biblical Tower of Babel to the apocryphal tale of Prometheus. The Cthulhu fanatics don't need to fret though, as the Lovecraft mythos connection hasn't been dropped from songs like “Before The Crawling Chaos.”

You know how Tool will never release another album, so Soen went ahead and recorded three for them? As far as I'm concerned, “Gnosis” might as well be the new Dimmu Borgir album that's seven years overdue, and it arrives with a better stylistic flair and more underground cred than Dimmu would have delivered anyway. In short, if you love symphonic black metal, Saille is the band you want to be following.

Highs: Simply put, this is symphonic black metal presented in one its best forms

Lows: The froggy chants on "Before The Crawling Chaos" didn't work for me, and that's about it

Bottom line: Saille just keeps upping the ante on the symphonic black metal front!

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)