Gnaw Their Tongues
"An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood"

(Crucial Blast Records 2008)Gnaw Their Tongues - An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood

The best horror movies are the ones that are able to frighten you without bludgeoning you over the head like the poor horny teenagers on the screen. The Exorcist, Alien, and more recently The Ring, are all effective because they create real tension without, for the most part, resorting to cheap scares. Music can work on the same visceral level, and nowhere is this more apparent than on "An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood," the latest vinyl-to-CD translation from shadowy Dutch outfit Gnaw Their Tongues. It also, by the way, gets my vote for best album title of the year so far.

Trying to describe what Gnaw Their Tongues actually sounds like is a bit frustrating, because their sound is something you've most likely not heard before. Part black metal, part funereal doom, and part demented opera; "An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood" trades typical musical structure for a primal morass of gut-twisting heaviness. Wild stabs of soaring orchestral jaggedness mesh with piercing banshee wails and malevolent electronic flourishes. Uneven drums pulse like the erratic heartbeat of a Lovecraftian horror, and guttural low ended guitars evoke peals of thunder driven before dark storm clouds thick with the promise of tarry rain. The album's biggest strength is the imagery in can conjure and the pervasive mood of despair it creates.

Unfortunately, atmosphere and ambiance tend to carry less weight in music than they do on screen. Abstraction is fine, but not when it relegates cohesive songwriting to the backseat. The album, for the most part, sounds like a random confluence of really cool stuff, never really coalescing until "The Urge to Participate in Butchery," the final, darkly moving track. It makes everything that precedes it sound uneven and unintentional by comparison. "An Epiphanic Vomiting of Blood" is genuinely disturbing, but sadly fades from memory shortly after it ends.


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