Luciferian Gnosis: a world of dark secret ritual, unseen beings and limitless evil

Ignis Haereticum, Luciferian Gnosis, Colombia, Goathorned Productions, CD digipak Goat 017 (2014)

From start to finish, Ignis Haereticum’s debut album “Luciferian Gnosis” is a dense raw black metal work that conjures up a self-contained and self-sufficient world of dark secret ritual and unspeakable ceremonial rites. The album reminds me of French BM bands like Antaeus and especially Deathspell Omega who perform their own investigations on ritual, self-abasement and the nature of sin, and who find conventional Christian religion inadequate and unable to mount a defence of its philosophy concerning the meaning of life and sin.

By turns darkly sparkling with sometimes shrill lead guitar, mixed percussion beats and rhythms, and featuring harsh gravelly vocals, this band owes a big debt to Deathspell Omega in sound and inspiration. Listeners should hear this album all the way through, even though it’s nearly 50 minutes long, a few times before trying to pick out individual songs, to get a feel for its style: in spite of the DSO influence, the record is very laid-back in parts, especially in its early half. The Colombians have a way to go before they can match DSO in technical complexity and originality in song composition but they are not doing badly in creating an intense delirious and deranged style of Satanic BM. The songs are not very distinct from one another and could be considered chapters in an over-arching concept. Most songs have a minimal structure with repeating riff loops – “Ad Serpentem Tortuosum” comes to mind – and the pace is usually easy-going as well. As the album continues, the minimalist approach to song construction turns out to be something of a hindrance for tracks in the middle of the album; there are occasions where the band appears to struggle in finding the moment to release the pent-up energy that has escalated as a result of repetition and increasing emotional intensity.

The middle of the album is a bit slow and the pace only starts to pick up with “De Sphinge Revelationem Mysterii”. From here on in, the album gathers more speed and anticipation, as though a stupendous apocalyptic showdown is imminent and everyone must prepare for final judgement when it comes. The final track with its Hollywood movie voice-over soundtrack turns out to be a disappointment after a long build-up of strongly atmospheric BM that boasts consistent musicianship.

What stands out is the band’s raw and brooding sound and a feeling I have of being completely immersed in a dark universe of limitless evil, suppressed anger and uneasy tension. The album’s ambience is clear and seems quite vast. Unseen entities roam in the background and make themselves known only through deep-voiced incantations or whispered messages. Ignis Haereticum might not hope to match DSO’s sometimes tricky jazz-influenced technical complexities but if they can emphasise atmosphere and emotion more in their music, they may well become serious competition in their own way. South American metal still remains a much under-appreciated music scene in spite of Sepultura’s global popularity in the 1990s, and it remains to be seen if bands like Ignis Haereticum can reignite worldwide interest.

Contact: Goathorned Productions