For those in the know, Baton Rouge’s Thou are a special act. Truly an underground cult, Thou have captured hearts with their intense and emotive brand of sludgy post-metal that isn’t afraid to usher in new dynamics, forms or influence throughout. After pivotal highs of Heathen (Gilead Media) and collaborative efforts with The Body, it would be several years before they emerged again as a recording band, only to offer an unprecedented four new releases this year. First of all were three EP releases that represented a different thread to their sound, leading to the full-length effort Magus (Sacred Bones), an album which could well be their pinnacle. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Let’s be honest – collaborations in Metal almost never work. The point is surely to create something which combines elements of both bands into something both distinctive and familiar, but in practice it normally ends up as either a crude patchwork or simply a retread of whichever band has the most distinctive style.
Gnaw Their Tongues and Dragged Into Sunlight are in many ways the perfect combination of bands for this kind of collaboration – not only because of their shared theme and atmosphere, but because both bands occupy a shifting sonic territory whose boundaries are regularly reformed. GTT have long been in the habit of altering the exact balance of Noise and Black Metal between albums, whereas DIS’ two non-collaborative albums both explore notably different styles and tones. As a result, it’s not easy to identify exactly what each party has contributed to NV (Prosthetic) – this is very much its own thing, not a crude combination of the two.
Which is not to say that this is their surprise Polka album. The five tracks on NV explore the mixture of Black Metal, harsh Noise and grim Sludge/Doom that you’d expect from these two names, and it’s a genuinely effective mixture. It may be GTT mastermind Mories’ hand that keeps the balance on the atmospheric and sinister rather than outright brutal, and Dragged Into Sunlight may have written the crusty Black Metal riffs that slither out of the shadows throughout, but the elements unite into a genuinely effective whole. It may initially seem surprising that the Noise elements are relatively subtly played, often used to accentuate and highlight the Metal rather than entomb them in the style of Aevangelist, but both bands understand the value of not over-egging the pudding all the time.
Whether judged as a collaboration between two artists with similar aesthetic goals or as an album in its own right, NV is an unrestrained success, and – alongside Gnaw Their Tongues’ own Abyss Of Longing Throats (Crucial Blast) – one of the more interesting albums in this style that you’re likely to hear in 2015.
It can’t be easy being a genuine innovator. Critics like to make a big deal about bands who “forge their own sound”, but once you’ve done that, what are you supposed to do with it? The challenge of maintaining that unique voice without just repeating yourself is one that many bands have stumbled over – and if you manage that, you have to deal with staying ahead of the bands you inspired. Gnaw Their Tongues’ solo artist Mories was among the first musicians to blend Extreme Metal with electronic Noise/Dark Ambient on anything more than a superficial level, and despite the increasing popularity of this combination GTT remain at the very cutting edge of the hybrid genre.
Mories’ response to this problem is to stake claim to a broad territory, and subtly refine the focus of each album, drawing different aspects of his sound into greater clarity. The key elements of Gnaw Their Tongues’ sonic domain – raw Black Metal, “industrial” Drone Doom, alienating Ambient and Harsh Noise with disturbing vocal samples and found-sounds – are present on every album, but combined in different ratios to keep each release fresh and distinctive. On Abyss Of Longing Throats (Crucial Blast), the Metal elements of their sound have been turned all the way to 11, creating what is probably one of their most accessible releases to date.
Of course, this is still Gnaw Their Tongues here – “accessible” needs to be taken in context. The Metal here – whether it’s the howling, repetitive BM of the title track or the almost Death Metal rhythmical pounding of “Through Flesh” and “Up Into The Heavens Down Into The Circles Of Hell” – is always of the most abstract and alienating kind, and constantly drenched in layers of suffocating Noise and distortion. The effect is not a thousand miles away from Aevangelist, a band who were clearly inspired by Gnaw Their Tongues and have perhaps given a little of their own inspiration back.
Abyss Of Longing Throats is both a valid starting point for new listeners and a satisfying new release for existing fans of one of the most genuinely unique and innovative Extreme Metal bands in the world, and guaranteed a space in the End Of Year list of anyone who enjoys their music harsh, disturbing and abstract.
These days, blending Black Metal with Noise/Ambient electronics is so common it’s become a cliché 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 gruelling extent that they become Noise themselves form the backbone of abstract, punishing arrangements, 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.