GNAWED - PESTILENCE BEHOLDEN - CD
DEATH INDUSTRIAL/POWER ELECTRONICS/HARSH NOISE/HARSH AMBIENT
PRO CD IN A FULLY ILLUSTRATED SIX PANEL DIGI-PACK
ALL SCRAP METAL, PERFORMED PERCUSSION, AND NATURAL
SOUNDS WERE RECORDED WITHIN SEWERS, AND ROTTING
ABANDONED INDUSTRIAL COMPLEXES IN MINNEAPOLIS, 2015.
I.) A BITTER HARVEST / II.) SERPENT IN THE RIVER OF THE ARMS
OF GOD / III.) THE HAND THAT FEEDS / IV.) PESTILENCE BEHOLDEN II /
V.) THE RIVER RUNS DRY / VI.) WHO SHALL REAP? / VII.) WHEAT FROM
CHAFF / VIII.) NIL BUT ROT (NEGATION IS PURITY) / IX.) PERDITION
GNAWED has been a project I've been quite impressed with ever since
I heard his cassette on Out Of Body Records. In the following years
the project has had a decent output (Although not too prolific compared
to many of his contemporaries) Which is good to me. Quality over quantity
is always preferred around here. In 2015 Malignant Records released GNAWED's
debut with the label "Feign And Cloak" which was a departure from the scathing
Power Electronics sound of earlier outputs into a much more grim and dreary
Death Industrial sound. This year GNAWED returns to Malignant with their
follow up for the label "Pestilence Beholden." In many regards this newest
full length album is a continuation or companion piece to "Feign And Cloak."
The Death Industrial elements are very present here (Smothering and oppressive
at times.) Perhaps even more note-worthy this time around is the fact that much
of the percussive and abrasive textures featured here were recorded on site in
abandoned industrial buildings, Sewers, And who knows what other crumbling,
Dilapidated places. Although this has been done (T.O.M.B. comes to mind.) It
hasn't been done in a way producing these results as far as I know.
"A Bitter Harvest" intro's the album dragging us into a subdued soundscape
of flowing filth and slow-motion sludge. A black river of ambiance sweeps
through and debut's the albums reoccurring themes which at times appear to
be a very dark take on Judaeo-Christian religious motifs. Blasphemy, Anger
and mockery stripped bare and raw. Windswept textures blow in urgent drones
that quiver with negativity. The production/mixing is already evident to be
top-notch. Crashing metallic junk percussion's clatter as unseen reapers emerge
from the shadows. Haunting, Cold, and unwelcoming atmospheres populate darkened
recesses that are seemingly unfit for human habitation. Richardson literally immersed
himself in filth to create this and it does not go unnoticed. Distant voices crackle
from blown out speakers, Delivering a message that is too obscured to pay heed to.
The warning is clear regardless as strands of sonic doom close in.
"Serpent In The River Of The Arms Of God" follows. A brief stay in a hostile
environment. Moaning drones bleed out slowly as hidden figures carelessly throw
metallic waste around a still room. In terms of pacing, This is quite intense.
You know something dangerous is approaching and the suspense is almost too much.
"The Hand That Feeds" creeps in with a sinister, Wavering drone, Distant dripping
pipes, And all together uncomfortable atmospheres. Death Industrial thumps begin
to boom, Each rattling through the emptiness. Experimental noise elements rise and
flow as brooding synths slowly gain momentum. The vocals kick in suddenly.
Distorted and highly treated to what sounds like a wide range of effects/filters.
GNAWED has somehow taken the direction of "Feign And Cloak" down further corridors
of spiraling madness. Each track feels like its festering, Growing, To the point of
bubbling over into a thick poison injected into the listeners conscience. The type
of dirt and grime that stains the mind while blackening the lungs. Good luck scrubbing
that shit off. Especially from the inside out. Malignant is known for releasing records
that sound like disease as audio, But I can't think of a record that was this deep in
the muck since STEEL HOOK PROSTHESES "The Empiric's Guild." (Although THE VOMIT ARSONIST's
"Only Red" came close.)
"Pestilence Beholden II" is a sequel to a track on last year's album. Oppressive ambient
filled with deep and quietly quaking vocals. Music that engulfs the listener. Sudden metallic
clanging rears its head as GNAWED begins to bare their fangs. This is about as overpowering
as Death Industrial gets. A soundtrack to the arrival of malevolent Gods. Mercilessly powerful
cold winds rush in as utterly terrifying vocals come in violent strikes. Richardson isn't playing
around on this one. He has honed in his rage to perfection. Bitter verses are unleashed on us over
and over as isolationist ambient textures conquer all and hard hitting percussion's beat us into
"The River Runs Dry" delivers the news that God is dead. Drones rise with a strange tonality
that is similar to the lowest notes of a cello. Feedback lingers on the fringes as pitch black
resonance reminds us of the loneliness of our true nature. Meditative and bleak are key
words here. Feedback increases into a painfully shimmering brilliance. The sonic equivalent
of starring at the sun as eternal blind darkness takes hold. Industrial factory machines
animate and squeal as if we've stepped into the heart of a construct torn asunder. A boiler
room chorus or the sub-orchestral flare of a hungry furnace. Even though it's an instrumental
piece it feels like a living mechanical organism. One long abandoned, Neglected and left to
rust as it becomes self aware and schemes revenge.
"Who Shall Reap?" takes us into the bowels of the album. The floor trembles as heavy
Industrial rhythms crash over what sounds like brass trumpets signalling war. Wraiths
of chilling resonance dance overhead until lead synths usurp their place. The vocals
are wretched bursts heavily cloaked in tremolo and other effects. By far one of the
strongest tracks on the album. Richardson becomes a ferocious beast here. One that
seems to hate you more than you think you deserve. The overblown vocal strikes only
get louder and more threatening with time. Relentless.
"Wheat From Chaff" begins with static laced metallic fuckery. Synths rise slowly
forming a weak pulse. The sound is brittle yet abrasive. Dreadful Dark Ambient
drones replace the faint pulse as slamming percussion's rattle with bass and
aggression. Harsh static textures welcome another vocal ass beating perhaps
even more pissed off than the last track. Extremely hostile and not afraid
to fucking show it. GNAWED sticks to a pretty simple formula on this record,
But it's definitely working for him. The "drums" sound like falling boulders
crashing down upon you, Burying you in a ten ton tomb of industrial wreckage.
I don't know what happened in Richardson's life to cause him to create something
so utterly hopeless but it's a damn good record.
"Nil But Rot (Negation Is Purity)" features looped industrial/metallic rhythms
that bring to mind some of the work on the last album. Heavy drones are laid
over-top that really cause a vibe of despair and uneasiness. A choir of caustic
roaring is heard in the distance along with screeching metal ringing. Again the
vocals are all aggro and no mercy. Feedback and pedal abuse are amped up at times
which, Together with everything else going on, Makes for a really claustrophobic
experience. The weight of this track is felt hard as if GNAWED is trying to force
you into a premature grave once more. Killed and killed again. As for purity...This
is pure negativity and nothing more. A true tribute to the traditions of the genre.
"Perdition (Deaths Disease)" Hammers the lid on the coffin. The longest track on
the album at a little over eight minutes, "Perdition" builds on low, Despondent
atmospheres that are much more ambient than I am used to hearing from the project.
Strange spoken vocals (Samples?) recite unknown fragments in a solemn, Mournful tone.
Sounds of despair and loss...Grief while lacking the ability to cope. I can't help
but feel hopeless and damn near suicidal while listening to this. Metallic textures
are present and sound like rusted shackles rattling as a frail corpse of a person
attempts to free themselves in vain. Emotionally powerful, Yet filled with a hollow
emptiness...The kind you can't shake no matter how hard you try...Like a gnawing
hunger after days in a lightless dungeon. Squealing and grinding metal movements
are heard...The mind is filled with images of plague rats feasting on the slowly
dying body of a person lost in a fevered delusion. Music for cold winter nights
alone. Absolutely alone. One of the most depressing album closers since HUMAN
LARVAE's "Home Is Where The Hurt Is." Music to give up and die to.
GNAWED HAS RETURNED SOUNDING MORE JADED AND HATEFUL THAN EVER. PURE NEGATIVITY
CHANNELED INTO A SOUNDTRACK TO SUFFERING: