Gnostic Engineering the Rule

As if the recent Atheist reunion wasn't enough, Gnostic rise to math/tech power with three Atheist members: founding drummer Steve Flynn, with new Atheist guitarist Chris Baker and bassist Jonathan Thompson. Flynn's name recognition is enough to sell this album, and his manic, nonpareil style clicks like a spastic metronome on opening cuts "Visceral" and "Isolate Gravity." Most tracks are workouts even for vocalist Kevin Freeman, whose hardcore gurgling sadly doesn't vary much from song to song. "Wall of Lies" and "Mindlock" break the monotony with some jazz acoustics before leaping back into the fray, as does "Life Suffering," with Flynn's Peart-like tom soloing. "Sleeping Ground" and "Corrosive" are noodling showcases for Baker and Thompson's rubbery fingers, and they succeed in propagating death metal's brutality alongside its regrettable and inherent repetitiveness. Though they may be dismissed as Atheist minus Kelly Schaefer, Gnostic are plying their trade here, and Engineering the Rule shows potential as torchbearers of the new prog. (Season of Mist)