It’s been said that in order to truly change as a human being or other living organism, one must undergo a transformation of truly horrific proportions. Sure, we all know that butterflies derive from caterpillars, but we don’t actually see the caterpillar going through a grotesque shape-shift in order to become an object of beauty, nor do we see a lowly seed split apart and become a mighty oak tree. From those painful, oftentimes disturbing metamorphoses, one finds enlightenment. Serbian one-man doom/death group Temple of Gnosis uses this idea, and many other beliefs originating from Western Esoteric practices (including alchemy), to craft the band’s debut, De Secretis Naturae Alchymica, channeling the project’s “unique” death/doom amalgamation.
Normally, I don’t bother talking about long-winded intros, as I like to cut right to the chase with the music. In this particular instance, it needs to be addressed as opener “Unto the Earth” exemplifies just how successful lone member HMT is with setting up the album. You have ambient sound effects, whooshing keyboards, and HMT talking for almost five minutes about witches, being from the earth, and who knows what else in the goofiest of pitch-shifted voices. If it were cut down to, oh, a minute in length, this wouldn’t be too much of a problem. Five minutes of this is more than enough to test the patience of even the most ardent of funeral doom aficionados. And it just goes on and on and on…
So when you finally get to “Serpentivm,” and hear that guitar strum a power chord over a pipe organ, you’re excited to finally hear some doomy deathy alchemical goodness, right? It starts off ominously enough, until HMT decides to take a page from Nachtmystium‘s playbook and incorporates the “BOOTS-AND-PANTS-AND-BOOTS-AND-PANTS-AND…” drum pattern, in which I start giggling. Folks, when you are conjuring up darkness and eerie vibes, making me giggle is never a good thing. I will say, though, that I’m thankful HMT resorts to a death growl instead of those pitch-shifted diatribes, as there’s plenty of that joy to be spread around, with “Tree of Life” being the biggest offender, being half boring song and half boring spoken-word piece about eating from the Tree of Life and dying. In fact, other than those two instances, I had a hell of a time trying to find anything to grasp onto that would qualify as either an incredible moment. It’s also of god-awful length, and I spent a good part of the past week with this thing.
Soundwise, it’s pretty quiet and muffled. The guitars take a back seat to the keyboards, which have very little variation in terms of sound patches, and the vocals take too much of a front-and-center focus. The drums sound way too passive and never reach the level of anything interesting in terms of sound or playing. But the biggest issue I have is the aforementioned length and quality of music. This is essentially one forty-six minute song that feels like a two-hour marathon of patience with absolutely zero tension or build-up, and with the exception of the giggle-inducing “BOOTS-AND-PANTS-AND…”-athon, it happened to make Acheron interesting in comparison.
You can question my kvltness or tr00hood, or ask me why I didn’t take nearly enough drugs to fully appreciate De Secretis. Such claims would be rendered moot, as De Secretis is a long-winded, patience-destroying slog of epic, pretentious proportions. If you’re going to discover your new Inner You, there’s better soundtracks to listen to while metamorphosing.
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: kbps mp3
Label: Aeternitas Tenebrarum Musicae Fundamentum
Websites: templeofgnosis.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/templeofgnosis
Release Dates: EU: 2016.03.04 | NA: 03.18.2016