I discovered Gnoss last year; their EP Brother Wind was impressive, not just because of the truly stunning bodhran work of Craig Baxter. The songs were solid and full of spirit and I marked them as a band to follow closely.
And the new album certainly does not disappoint. It’s full of their quicksilver playing and – thankfully – good writing. Musicians this talented can often fall into what I call prog metal trap: songs becoming mostly a framework for displaying the musicians’ technical abilities. That danger is lurking in some spots even here but is almost always contained in favor of sensible and heartfelt tunes.
The one thing I particularly appreciate is the way they have developed their own sound massively since the debut album a few years ago. I guess I could easily tell it’s Gnoss even if it was a song I hadn’t heard before. No mean feat, considering they have not wandered too far from Scottish Trad and keep electronics away from their arrangements. Respect!
Aidan Moore‘s natural and warm delivery of the vocals makes the Gnoss sound easily accessible to even newcomers to this music and Ross Ainslie‘s crystal clear production gets everything out of the ensemble sound.
As a drummer I’m always interested in the beats and in this case it’s interesting to note that instead of the instantly danceable “ceilidh” feel, Gnoss favor a more of a “gliding” feel to the rhythm. The tracks propel forward as if on air and sometimes the nearly double bass drum like rapid fire from the bodhran (check out Voodoo as prime example) adds an extra level of almost rock energy, moderated by the lightness of touch by the whole band. It’s unique and fascinating and works like magic.
My favorite tracks: the dazzling instrumentals Hasse A’s and An Orkney Christmas, the organically grooving midtempo The Five Of Spades and, most of all, the exquisite and moving The Sea Widow – that one shows they have the capacity for lyrical, more deeply emotional material as well.
When they add some more of the maturity displayed in that track to their joyful fireworks, they will be not just excellent but mindblowingly great. And that greatness is already very close.
Just go for it.
Drawn From Deep Water is available on the band’s Bandcamp site and other music shops and streaming services.