Review Summary: Gnaw Their Tongues' fourth album and a worthy addition to their growing legacy. One of the few great bands in modern black metal.
Gnaw Their Tongues is the Dutch black metal solo project of a multi-instrumentalist going by the name Mories. Since the project's inception in 2005 he has released four albums, several EPs and splits and appeared on a number of compilations. But this is no poor quality bedroom nonsense. GTT's sound is characterized by pummeling ugly distorted bass, spastic evil operatic synths, smashing mechanical percussion (not drum machine), and sections of noisy ambience and bizarre samples focusing on murder, torture and occult rituals. Its distinct sound makes neat categorization difficult, so it is lumped in with black metal for its screeching vocals, distortion-laden riffs and a few songs that fit in with a more typical modern black metal sound (tremolo picking, simple repetitive time signatures, etc). "All the Dread Magnificence of Perversity" is the latest GTT offering, a lengthy double LP that is perhaps Mories' most fruitful endeavor and one of the most interesting and worthwhile albums of 2009. For those who are tired of the cavalcade of piss poor and mediocre black metal groups springing up and the frequent lameness and pretension of attempts at "experimental black metal" and industrial/black metal hybrids, feast your ears on this audio monstrosity.
The sound here is sunk in a bottomless pit of murkiness, creating a pulse of hideous sub end noise. You won't find any electric guitar here, but rather some super heavy fuzzed out distorted bass. The riffs are usually slow, churning and sludgy, with a harsh, dissonant and noisy tone, letting dull yet grating feedback ring out in between thick bludgeonings. Backing up the putrescent gut-churning low end rhythm are pounding primitive drums. They normally keep to smashing violently on the cymbals and toms, slowly driving these mammoth dirges. There is a cold, clanking precision about the music at times which bears a resemblance to the early work of Swans; bass-driven, simplistic head-smashing that falls under the umbrella of "industrial" (not to be confused with foofy computerized beats and whiny goth fags). We also get some downright sludgy slides and other Eyehategod/Grief-like sub-end plodding, minus the Southern tinges and drug-infused aesthetic. Further key features of GTT include strange operatic synths that spastically chime in, piercing with high end sounds and adding a sense of panic on top of the disgusting vomitous rhythm. There are also sections of droning distortion and feedback, sometimes with piano or other melodic aspects worked in, or sometimes just noisily churning along. The vocals are high piercing screams (the type that are often dubbed "torture screams" by black metal fans) and ugly, horrifying raspy bellows that fit the music's torturous oppressive sound. Samples and spoken parts are found here and there (although they aren't featured as heavily here as on earlier releases). They are typically very dark and ominous and focus on violence, death, ritual sacrifice and other such topics. Behind eerie distortion and feedback or the rabid onslaught of the riffs the samples are quite effective at creating an atmosphere of unease. In general GTT's composition is strong, and despite the music's slow, drawn out, violent and unkempt nature it remains interesting and effective though the album's 70 minute running time.
Gnaw Their Tongues is a unique project to say the least. Among all the riffraff and hubbub of modern black metal it is difficult to escape mediocrity and worse yet utter crap. Bands nowadays trying to capture old sounds tend to bastardize them with their ineptitude, and bands trying to be unique tend to resort to gimmicks and annoying attempts at experimentation, and ultimately produce unimpressive, pretentious annoying music that's suited for hipster douchebags and ignorant kids. "Industrial black metal" is a particularly infuriating modern subgenre, being unlistenable 9/10ths of the time. It's refreshing to see that someone could produce something so original, ugly and violent without hitting the pitfalls of the current black metal scene. For this reason Gnaw Their Tongues is an important figure in modern black metal and will likely continue to produce the utmost in horrific filth. Fans of the unhinged filth of Abruptum or the improvisational black noise of Stalaggh should likely enjoy this insanity. Fans of all forms of sludgy plodding, be it the early heavy forms of "industrial" such as Swans or Fall of Because, or the sludge doom of the 90s may appreciate the super heavy distorted bass and pounding drums found here. GTT also bears some resemblance to the American noise rock group White Mice (both using mammoth sludgy distorted bass, pounding simplistic drums and high pitched torturous screams), although the aesthetic and themes of these groups are markedly different. Anyhow, this stuff is not for fans of polished, melodic, "atmospheric" music and the like. It's for those who want the ugliest most violent stuff available. Check it out.