Stirring from a creeping lilt into a frictional sprawl, Symphonic Black Metal artisans Saille usher in their fourth album, Gnosis. Its predecessor, Eldritch (both Aural/code666) made great strides to establish this cerebral aggressor as an act of pedigree and violence; a burgeoning reputation that this darker, more ferocious offspring will serve only to further.
For this is a focused extremity with technical astuteness prevalent. While it’s fair to say the Belgians dip their toes in the same metallic lake as a Dimmu Borgir, Saille’s is a significantly more vehement and less bombastic take. ‘Prometheus’ alternates discordant rage with tightly picked mid-tempo menace before icy refrains jar, ‘Genesis 11:1-9’ is malevolent and brooding, ‘Pandemoniam Gathers’ shows a Dissection shaped core and ‘Thou, My Maker’ is relentless in its minor scale tremolo battery, all the while Saille weld aggression with craft.
With a conscious decision taken to increase the savagery without sacrificing control or songwriting, evidenced by the faceted ‘Blôt’ and the synth-laden ‘1904 Era Vulgaris’, Saille have added to a respected and notable canon with a fierce album. Unnecessary fripperies have been stripped away, and while embellishments flitter in and out of the hostilities, focus is clearly on extreme metal with credit to sticksman Kevin de Leener for maintaining energy and a pulse most insistent that keeps the quintet sounding spirited, forceful and, above all meaningful. It is a vitality that infiltrates every pore, with Dennie Grondelaars’ screams in particular piercing, desperate and impassioned while the two axes blister.
Amongst flourishes of Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (Candlelight), Fleshgod Apocalypse and post-Grand Declarations (Season of Mist/Necropolis) Mayhem, Gnosis is, at blackened heart, a spiteful album that, while it may be exploring such grandeurs as Luciferian ideals and self-discovery, is aware that it is in dissonance, aggression, and spiked Blackened Metal that it excels. There may be flourishes and melodic dalliances – album highlight the mid-point epic ‘Before The Crawling Chaos’ opens out to bloom and show an expansive centre – yet it is amongst the raging fires of cacophony and metal extremity that Saille revel.