I’ll definitely be filing this chat with Florida black metal outfit Grave Gnosis under the category “Ya Learn Something New Every Day.” Vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist/composer Ø filled me in on the esoteric background behind the band’s upcoming album Lux Nigredo.
Coming out January 23rd on Vargheist Records, this nine-track homage to darkness is a surprisingly pleasant ride if you like your black metal on the psychedelic end. Ø and crew lead the listener through rituals of their Satanic Coven, with guest musicians adding cello, saxophone, and natural noises that make for a colorful sonic journey.
Read on to find out where Lux Nigredo will be taking you….
Alternative Control: Tell me a little about the background of Grave Gnosis. How did you guys get together? How do you approach the collaborative process of music making?
Ø: Grave Gnosis started when I began collaborating with Nova, our synth player, and Vikzaru, our bassist. As all three are practitioners of dark spiritual arts as well as musicians, the goal was to express our collective spiritual practice and philosophy through music in unique and potent ways.
Most often, the process begins with a singular concept. We decide what we want the song to do, or what role it should play in a ritual setting, and then we compose and write around that intent. Sometimes this requires specific calculations of interval and frequency, and sometimes this simply means meditating and composing while in trance. In either case, we round out the experience considering the listener, and what we might want people to feel or experience when the music is played. Generally this whole process begins and ends with myself, with certain compositional sections and directional alterations implemented by the others.
AC: Can you tell me about the Codex Aversum text that you wrote and how it relates to this album?
Ø: The Codex Aversum is a grimoire detailing the spiritual practice and theory of our coven. This practice revolves around communion with 9 archetypal spirits; the order and manner in which they are contacted can change the experience of this practice quite significantly.
Within the Codex, there is outlined two specific ordered paths that may be followed in regards to the procession of these 9 spirits – The Path of Pestilence Crowned, and The Path of Lux Nigredo. The album Lux Nigredo follows the Path of the same name, both in conceptual and ritual musical associations, and lyrics description. The follow-up album, which has already been composed and is slated for recording soon, will follow and describe The Path of Pestilence Crowned.
AC: What was the recording process like for Lux Nigredo? Has the pandemic affected your writing/recording process one way or another?
Ø: Lux Nigredo was the first full length album that we have used a live drummer, and was also our first collaboration with the cellist Kakophonix, who has since also become a member of our Coven. Much of this has actually been recorded long before the pandemic, except the guitar, which had to be re-recorded in the winter of 2019-2020. We delayed the release of Lux Nigredo so that we could ensure that the follow-up was ready for recording, and that the Codex would be available for all those curious enough to dig deeper.
Beyond this, all core members were already reclusive and recording from home, so no change was necessary. Session members also conducted their collaboration remotely, so the pandemic really did not change our plans or methods.
AC: I’m not too familiar with black metal subculture or the term “Orthodox Satanism” that is mentioned in some of your promotional materials. Can you explain what Orthodox Satanism means as opposed to beliefs of The Satanic Temple or alternately, the Church or Satan?
Ø: Orthodox Satanism is one of many terms used to describe a Theistic form of Satanism. As opposed to more mainstream or well-known forms as seen with The Satanic Temple and the Church of Satan, an Orthodox or Theistic Satanist does believe in Satan as an entity or spiritual force in the world and from beyond. We reject the mundane, and all forms self-enslavement to which so many willingly fall. We worship the dark gods and goddesses of the Other Side, and pledge ourselves to the cause of Satan, Entropy, and Death as manifest in this world.
AC: According to Facebook, your songs contain alphanumeric codes to different spirits. So if I play these songs….. Am I invoking some kind of spirit?
Ø: In a sense, yes. Each song is an invocation to the spirit to which it is dedicated, from the use of specific sonic frequencies and subliminal audio cues, to emotional expression and actual invocations in the lyrics. Much of the music was recorded during the throws of ritual and trance. Those who do not see will remain blinded to this aspect, and may not experience anything. To the open-minded, however, the presence of the spirits may be felt, and their voices heard. It is recommended that those curious use the materials as ritual or meditative guides, in conjunction with the text of Codex Aversum if possible.
AC: 2021 is still a crapshoot in terms of how long the pandemic will stick around and how much longer live music will be affected. That being said, what is Grave Gnosis hoping to do or achieve in 2021?
Ø: Live performance is certainly hoped for, though we are at the mercy of many other regulative forces in this regard. Online and livestream shows are certainly a possibility, as they have proven to be able to provide a comprehensive and intense artistic platform. However, it is likely that live performance will occur in a more private setting, where we may conduct ourselves as we please, and with who we please. We shall continue work on our third opus, and go as our gods direct us.
The album will be released on January 23rd via South Carolina’s Vargheist Records. Preorder your digital or CD copy of Lux Nigredo here.
Get a copy of Codex Aversum here.