I hold an eternal grudge against bands whose names are Latin. It's a cheap trick to market an image of sophistication and I refuse to fall for it. I refuse to ask the band what their name means to spare them from the mindgasm they get from being able to explain it to me. So I googled it. That being said, I must have lived under a rock for the past four years since I don't know this band, and unfortunately for my ego, Compos Mentis has little need to defend the pseudo-complexity of its name.
"Gehennesis" contains enough complexity to make full blown Pain of Salvation-fans shiver and drool. It is a concept album that explores metamorphosis and life juxtaposed with stagnation and death and brings to mind such thinkers as Nietzsche and Goethe. The dominant allusions, however, are religious as is implied by the album's title, which stems from the words Gehenna, a metaphor for hell and eternal fire, and genesis.
Thought and effort have been serious assets in the making of "Gehennesis", but then again, this is only expected when then band has had four years to compose it and has done so in co-operation with Illdisposed's Ziggy and the renowned Tue Madsen. The said have packed the album with enough theatrics to give it a chamber-orchestra feel. That is to say, "Gehennesis" is subtly underproduced, but this only adds to the atmosphere. Now, think Ted Skjellum of Darkthrone fronting this orchestra, and you've conceived the sound in its entirety.
In fact, everything seems to be in place. The dual-guitars are in harmony and unleash magnificent melodies to top the piano, the drums do their duty in rhythmics and the bass is neither too loud nor hidden. If it weren't for Jesper Heinsvig's megalomaniac vocal delivery, one would also be able to hear the instruments. Unfortunately the offensively overproduced vocals steal the show and manage to consume everything in their path allowing the band's instrumental skill to thrive only in instrumental passages.
Nonetheless, "Gehennesis" is an extremely well-composed piece of music that has had time to mature and develop. It is an album that must grow on the listener and as such an album that every band should aspire to create. It unveils new dimensions through multiple listens and refuses to become boring. On the other hand, the vocals feel like a hasty sticker stamped onto an instrumental record at last minute and deduct from the potential of "Gehennesis".