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Gnaw Their Tongues
Genocidal Majesty Richard Fontenoy , February 12th, 2018 07:45

A trip through the abyss, screaming, with Mories de Jong.

Gnaw Their Tongues is an interesting case among the many and varied musical identities adopted by Mories de Jong. Where Cloak Of Altering, Aderlating or De Magia Veterum, for instance, opt for a slightly straighter symphonic or even ambient(ish) take on the black metal form, and Seirom lifts off into something closer to cosmic shoegaze, Gnaw their Tongues plunges wrist-deep into the guts of human misery. Unflinchingly violent and macabre, the sometimes overly visceral crime scene artwork puts de Jong's music at the viscerally misanthropic end of the musical spectrum.

Should Genocidal Majesty and the rest of the Gnaw their Tongues back catalogue be approached as a form of catharsis or as an immersion into the nasty side of human existence, taking a holiday in hellishness with a side trip into the abyss? When Merzbow renders and crushes all before him in a wall of noise, it's often with the express intention of raising awareness of animal cruelty. And while de Jong might have produced an album that comes closest to the full-spectrum aural beating that Masami Akita is renowned for delivering, he does so with a palpable sense of anger laced with disgust for all that humans can be and do to each other when at their worst.

The music's relationship to various sub-genres of extreme metal is perhaps more ancestral than immediate. There are all the signifiers – blast beats, dense slabs of distortion, instruments that may be cymbals thrashed to within a microscopic measure of life, but if there are guitars and basses responsible for anything on Genocidal Majesty, then it ultimately doesn't matter. Mind-bending layers of samples and electronic devices, filters tearing and grumbling, are overdriven into the permanent red on the level meters. 'To Bear Witness To The Truth' surges in on a raft of unhealthy-sounding bass regurgitations, the shuddering reverberations crumbling through the sound spectrum and rolling in on martial drumbeats that have become Mories' stock-in-trade, a tearing synthesizer rise surging up the horripilatory scale to plateau among the metallic clangs and barely discernible vocal samples.

The low end can be phenomenal, a gut punch followed by bone-breaking beats that ascend non-stop into a calamitous frenzy that just keeps on going with no escape, no redress, no possible response but surrender. With throaty caterwauling provided on two tracks by a fellow guide to the lower circles of hell, Chip King from equally ferocious noisemakers The Body, the levels of disgust for pretty much everything attain peak misanthropy, expressed via unwholesome screaming that channels powerful demons over and among the unstoppable violence of the music.

The hellish vocal panoply can lift Genocidal Majesty into the realms of opera as performed by a sickening pageant of monsters from the id parading their way from one bleak pit to another, marching all the while on a neverending field of crushed and broken bodies. It's a wonder that Gnaw Their Tongues live don't provoke riots and worse, because that's what this sometimes resembles, a red-mist reduction to the basest level of brutality in the form of unleashed, vituperative horror. On record at least there is a break at the end of 'The Doctrine Of Paranoid Seraphims' to allow for changing sides (on the vinyl edition at least), but beyond that there is virtually no pause, no respite allowed for, save for when the sounds of what might be gnawing and slavering slurp alongside a moment of relative calm in the middle of 'Cold Oven'.

There is a gentler come down allowed here than on previous records, the album folding out almost miraculously into the elegiac symphonic swell that concludes 'Void Sickness'. De Jong pulls his listeners back into the light, turning all the auditory torment that led to the final moments into a surprising, even pleasant-sounding, ending. Perhaps by allowing some relative gentleness into the Gnaw Their Tongues canon, Mories is practising emotional manipulation of a different sort, and maybe by tugging at the heart strings he's performed an about-face that signals better days ahead. But don't count on it.

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