Spiritual Grind and The Queen of Hearts
If there's any record this year that has demanded full attention, this is it.
With a lineup stacked as far as the eye can see, it's hard to ignore the band itself, let alone the music they produce. Jonny Davy (Job for a Cowboy), Alex Glassman (Job for a Cowboy), Tony Sannicandro (Job for a Cowboy), Daren Cesca (Deeds of Flesh), and Max Lavelle (The Black Dahlia Murder) left little to the imagination as to whether this record would be done well; Serpent of Gnosis' first offer, "As I Drink from the Infinite Well of Inebriation," surpasses all expectations.
From the onset, the listener is greeted with a growing white noise from guitar feedback and distortion not unlike the sound of ears ringing having experienced trauma in moments previous. This noise serves as warning, however, instead of consequence. The trauma has yet to start. The ripping guitar and pin-point drums break out like a jackhammer and then rest only to give way to monstrous vocals in a capella, a motif that persists from start to finish.
As I'm violently emptying my guts into a pristine bowl, I've become fully aware that I live in a bottomless state of decoherence
The first lyric is pure existential dread as the narrator muses on the idea that they are nothing more than a system of particles failing on every level to maintain stability. And it never relents, never provides the breather for which the listener begs. "Decoherence" sets the tone of the record with thoughts looking inward reasoning that the disarray is self-inflicted and cannot be stopped, an analogy for the songwriting throughout. On each track, Davy spews forth with the roar of a thousand tongues about how grim things perceptibly are. It's the anxious howl announcing the breakdown of a mind consigned to be left in the dark, a woeful and bitter indictment of the systems that put it there in the first place. All of these feelings are enveloped in an instrumentation that feels equally claustrophobic and punishing.
This body is maturing to be nothing more than a floating vessel of fester and malfunction
An exhausting barrage of over-driven strings comes as assault for the first five minutes of the record until the end of "Fragile Vessel of Serenity," which relents only to overcome the listener with ambient sounds of distant cries, screaming, and thunder. "The Colorless Capsules", the album's first single, interrupts that feeling with the catchiest song on the album.
Aberrant rhythms punctuated with quarter rests comprise the entirety of the record and the first half comes at breakneck speeds until "Cognitivity." The low hum and feedback swell until the bass takes over with a groove that feels distinctly different but not out of place. While this song slows down, it provides no respite from the hammering yet to come.
For the entire duration of the album, twenty-one taxing minutes, the listener is locked into a unique brand of punishment. This is, unequivocally, not background music. If the listener is Sgt. Raymond Shaw, this album is the Queen of Hearts. Serpent of Gnosis have proven that they have the capacity to seize attention and keep a white-knuckle grip onto it, and while their truth may not be universal, it certainly is personal.
For more, head over to 1126 Records.