Black Star Gnosis

Dark Descent
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Across The Setian Planes
02. Ipsissimus Of Shadows
03. Black Star Gnosis
04. Cosmic Curse Invocation
05. Syzygy Of Unholy Trinity
06. De Mysterium Noctis
07. Performing The Ceremonies Of Tragedy
08. Cosmic Curse Expulsion
09. Occultation Of Typhon

There is a lot to be said for bands that can establish their own sound within tight parameters. Stalwarts and pioneers of the US black metal scene, DEMONCY have never strayed too far from a diet of seething discord and blast-driven fury, but their myopically monochrome attack is more than distinctive enough to stand out. Active since 1989, they have already secured legendary status, but "Black Star Gnosis" suggests that they are far from done spreading the word of Satan. Eight years on from their last full-length, the epically hateful "Empire Of The Fallen Angel (Eternal Black Dominion)", DEMONCY have summoned some new demons and put them to work on an album that condenses the American's sound down to its faith-flaying essence.

There is no doubt that "Black Star Gnosis" is a much stronger sounding record than DEMONCY's cult 1999 debut "Within The Sylvan Realms Of Frost", but in atmospheric terms, this is simply the same primitive barbarism, more roundly expressed. "Across The Setian Plains" is an atypically ambient and ominous intro that merely hints at hidden horrors, creating a profound sense of unease. Prologue passed, "Ipsissimus Of Shadows" delivers the anticipated uproar. Fast and frenzied but harboring dark melodic secrets, it exerts brutal weight, while still honoring the USBM heads-down scree ethos that this band helped to create. Black metal has blossomed into a broad and eclectic genre over the years, but its fundamental principles are scrawled all over these dirty riffs and asphyxiated shrieks. The title track reinforces a sense that DEMONCY are on a more militant mission than ever, as cascading, sinewy blasts and a detour into necrotic doom add weight and momentum to frontman and founder Ixithra's virile, old-school riffs.

Elsewhere, "Syzygy Of Unholy Trinity" unleashes a glacial fog of dark, formless, post-industrial pomp, which provides the perfect counterpoint to "De Mysterium Noctis" and its rancid, three-minute assault on the senses. The immersive, fractured static and chattering machines of "Occultation Of Typhon" makes for an unsettling, guitar-free final gasp. But overall, "Black Star Gnosis" is an unflinching stare at the abyss, powered by aggression and a purity of vision that continues to set DEMONCY apart from many of their underground peers.

Interestingly, DEMONCY will serve up more new music in two weeks' time, when new EP "Diabolica Blasphemiae" is released via Hell's Headbangers. Five tracks deep and very much an equal counterpart to "Black Star Gnosis", it adds several more shades of black to the band's monochrome palette. The full-length is the main event, however, and another great addition to a commanding legacy.

Author: Dom Lawson
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