Gnosis of the Witch are without doubt one of my favorite bands right now. As mysterious as their name, and EP titles, suggest, they play an incredibly beautiful strain of raw atmospheric black metal. The two members are equally mysterious in identity, but we did manage to track down one of them, Niðafjöll, for an interview, which was conducted by the intrepid Trevor Proctor. Read on my filthy friends, read on.
LoF - Thank you very much for agreeing to an interview, there’s a lot going on in the world of Gnosis of the Witch and your time is very much appreciated. Gnosis of the Witch is a name many may only have heard of recently – could you tell us a little about the band, its formation, background and the music you play?
GotW - Greetings, thank you for your interest in our music. Yes it is true our name has not been around for very long and we are relatively unknown, but we aim to change that.
Gnosis of The Witch came to be around May of 2013 and since its formation, we have completely devoted ourselves to its well-being. This is much more than a band to us, a holy spiritual praxis if you will. Every simple detail, from the lyrics, the artwork, the to overall concept of the band is based on our devotion to the nightside of Nordic spirituality. The music to be simply put is a mix of ambient atmosphere and vicious black metal.
LoF - It must be an extremely exciting time for the band with your debut recording Rún Af inn Auðr coming out on cassette via Darker then Dark along with the high profile 12” MLP release of Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar via Iron Bonehead Productions – how happy are you with the releases in terms of how they sound and also the associated publicity? Also, is Rún Af inn Auðr due for release via the Mordgrimm label?
GotW - We are very proud of the exposure we have recieved in the past year. Darker Than Black created an excellent cassette we are very happy with, and in a matter of a few days, Iron Bonehead released the new 12" version of "Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar" and Wohrt Records has released the cassette version as well. We are very happy with the publicity and attention we have been given. While we write this music for our own personal gain, we would be lying if we said it did not make us feel proud that others enjoy what we spend so much time to create.
Yes, Mordgrimm was due to release the debut EP "Rún Af Inn Auðr" last October but has run into many pressing delays. When the release is finished and available, they will make an announcement.
LoF - It’s quite a meteoric rise to prominence for the band with many underground rumblings and compliments already about Gnosis of the Witch – have you been surprised in any way by this?
GotW - When we formed the band, we did not expect such a dramatic rise into the open eye of the underground. We still are quite "underground" but it is indeed a good feeling when people say they know your music and enjoy what you create. We intend on forging onward and creating a path of burning fire so all will see our wake of smoldering ash and be forced to pay attention.
LoF - Opener “Ek Bjóða Inn” is quite an entrancing, mesmerising track – it grips you from its beginning and captures the attention to its conclusion, what’s the meaning behind it and was it intended to be so hypnotic for the listener?
GotW - “Ek Bjóða Inn”, or "I summon thee" is an incantation. It is a spell to open the portal between our subconsious and the darkness beyond. "Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar" means "Death Born Thrice" and is an ode to the kin of Loke. Each song represents his spawn, "Ormar Eitr" belongs to Jörmungandr, "Svartr Úlfar Blóð" belongs to Fenrisúlfr, and "Dauðiþurs Seiðr" belongs to Hel. This opening spell is to awaken the fire within and prepare the mind for the ritual to come.
LoF - What led to the decision for track titles and vocals being in the Old Norse language?
GotW - Considering the band's concept, imagery and spiritual devotion it seemed "ordinary" to write the music and title the songs in English. We want our music to feel ancient and withered from an age many moons have passed. To spend the time learning the Old Norse language and get an adequate grasp on the way this language was written, pronounced and ultimately spoken was a necessary task in order to achieve our goal of giving our music an old atmosphere.
LoF - The music is fantastic and an incredible achievement for the band – could you tell us a little about the writing and recording processes and how happy the band is with them?
GotW - Thank you! Considering we have had previous black metal bands, writing this style of music is no foreign concept to us. But, to create the style of black metal we do is no simple task. We have a very specific idea of how our music is to sound and we are very strict on ourselves and refuse to allow anything that does not grab you by the throat. If the energy and power we seek is not felt within the music written, we will not use it. So far, we are very happy and very satisfied with the releases we have offered.
LoF - The use of occasional background keyboards contrasts and complements the heaviness and aggression very well, what led to their inclusion and will they be featured in future recordings?
GotW - We always want to put heavy emphasis on atmosphere. Atmosphere and ambiance are very important and key factors in our sound. The reason there are only occasional sounds instead of being a prominent instrument is that we are, and never will be, a "symphonic" band. The mood of a particular passage or section may need to be highlighted and will be to further heightened the energy of that moment in the song.
LoF - Are there any plans, in the near or distant future, for Gnosis of the Witch to tour? Also, having just two members will it be possible for you to play live, or will you be enlisting other musicians to assist with live performances?
GotW - Considering we are a duo, and we live in seperate countries the thought of playing live is very hard, but was never once thought to be impossible. One day, we will bring our rituals to the stage with the help of our close brothers. Gnosis of The Witch will not simply dwell within the shadows, we choose to burn in the flames!
LoF - The cover of the MLP is very eye-catching, whose artwork is it and what’s the relevance behind it to the music of Gnosis?
GotW - The cover was done by an exceptional graphic artist based out of the Netherlands by the name of Brianvdp. Our original artist who did the first EP was unfortunately strained for time so Iron Bonehead recommended Brianvdp to us and what resulted was an excellent cover.
The concept of the cover was to basically summarize the record. The swirling void gives birth to the holy trinity of Fenrisúlfr/Jörmungandr/Hel in the center. The cover has a very entrancing or even psychedelic feel we have been told before and this is exceptional to us as we want our music to be entrancing and meditative.
LoF - What are the band’s plans for the rest of 2014 and when can we expect a full length release?
GotW - With the release of "Dauðr Burðr Þrysvar", we will be spending the rest of 2014 writing for our first full length album. When it will be finished and released, we do not know. We will let the runes reveal it to us.
LoF - Underground metal is experiencing its most creative period since the early 1990’s, growing at a very fast rate – do you think this is a benefit or a disadvantage for the genre?
GotW - An absolute advantage. You will never find the excellent quality of music in the mainstream eye that you will find dwelling within the underground. The more serious and devoted metal bands, the better.
LoF - If you were given the choice of releasing your music in the present or back in the early 1990’s which period would you choose and why?
GotW - The present. Nothing will ever surpass the awe-inspiring collection of music we were given from the early days of black metal. Our music is an ode to the past, and we choose to release it now as a reminder of where black metal came from.
LoF - Musically what bands have influenced Gnosis of the Witch the most and which band would you most to share a stage with? (past or present)
GotW - While we do not wish to give the impression that Gnosis of The Witch is merely another black metal band created from musical inspiration, there are a few black metal bands who have provided musical inspiration that I am proud to credit as influences, such as Enslaved, Bathory, Helheim and Burzum. The flames of the past have and never will burn out.
You’re signed to an excellent and very influential label in Iron Bonehead; how did you come to be signed with them and will future releases come via the same label? (you can leave the future release bit out if it’s dodgy in any way)
Our contact with Iron Bonehead came to be after our wolf-brothers FŌR released their debut EP on IBP. We spoke with them about the release of "Dauðr..." and they agreed and we have been welcomed within the label as a permanent home. All future releases will be with Iron Bonehead.
LoF - Iron Bonehead has a very impressive roster, how familiar are you with your label mates and do you keep up with the rest of the label’s releases?
GotW - Oh yes, there is an incredible roster on Iron Bonehead! A few bands I particularly enjoy are of course our wolf-brothers FŌR, Cult of Fire, Bölzer, She'ol, Heresiarch and Swarþ to name a few. The amount of incredible bands that IBP has released is immense, but these are a few I personally found above the others.
LoF - Thank you very, very much for taking the time to answer the questions, it’s greatly appreciated and myself and The Lair of Filth wish you nothing but success in the future.
GotW - We thank you for the interest and appreciate the opportunity!
Blóta Heilagr Dauði!
//Niðafjöll on behalf of Gnosis of The Witch
You can check out our reviews of both Gnosis of the Witch releases to date, here and here. You can also buy them here.