These days, blending Black Metal with Noise/Ambient electronics is so common it’s become a cliché (or, at least, it seems that way if you’re the one Ghost Cult asks to review EVERY SINGLE ALBUM IN THAT STYLE THAT EVER GETS RELEASED), but that wasn’t always the case. During the late 90’s and early 2000’s using Noise for intros or segues was standard, but actually letting it into your SONGS was still largely frowned upon. Along with his peers in Axis Of Perdition, Mories (the man solely responsible for Gnaw Their Tongues) was among the first to really explore the potential of these two often contradictory styles, and still among the very best.
Collected Atrocities (Crucial Blast) is a compilation of EPs and splits recorded between 2005 and 2008, and though it represents the tiniest portion of their truly intimidating back catalogue, it’s a relatively accessible place for new listeners to start… not that “accessible” is a word normally associated with Gnaw Their Tongues. With over two hours of music spread across two CDs, the tracks here cover the full range of sounds which GNT inhabit – from full-on Black Metal with Noise as a background to sparse electronic soundscapes with nothing as familiar as a riff in sight – but mostly occupy the middle ground where Mories is at his strongest. Guitars processed to such a grueling extent that they become Noise themselves form the backbone of abstract, punishing arrangments, fleshed out with unsettling sounds and broken rhythms, while Mories’ pained shriek fights for space with the disturbing spoken-word passages so popular in Harsh Noise.
Gnaw Their Tongues’ music works best when it occupies that space that I wish I had a better term for than “Background Foreground” – not “songs” in any recognisable sense, the tracks here seem to fall naturally to the back of the listener’s consciousness, but once there they begin mercilessly transforming everything else, changing even the most mundane experience into one pregnant with indescribable horror and discomfort. Do NOT go to a high-street fast-food shop on a Saturday night while listening to Gnaw Their Tongues – you will be plunged into an eldritch world of decay and horror from which your sanity will never escape.
The perfect proof that even Gnaw Their Tongues’ odds-and-sods are more genuinely unsettling than anything that 95% of Black Metal or Noise bands can put out on their best days, Collected Atrocities is not only essential listening for people already convinced by this combination of styles, but also an ideal first listen for the uninitiated, and – given its nature as a compilation – a surprisingly coherent one.