Operating at the intersection between the dingiest of dark ambient, noise and post-industrial electronic gloom, Hell Follows turns out to be a more spacious affair than Aderlating‘s previous delves into the murk and mire. However, Maurice De Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues, Seirom, Cloak of Altering etc) and Eric Eijspaart leave no drone unturned nor mordant exposition too clearly laid out — while there is now a certain clarity to the nine tracks served up with an ominous sense of dread, it is all the better to hear their particular take on the sounds of one might encounter at the moment and aftermath of an unnervingly personal doom.This is not the doom of fed-back guitar amplifiers and billowing weed smoke; instead, fates far worse than 16rpm death metal awaits the intrepid listener who abandons all hope upon entering here. Grimly guttural vocals from Eijspaart mesh with Mories’ unsettlingly orchestrated soundscapes, welling up in slow parades of black suns precessing dankly across the unquiet firmament in mocking salute to the last embers of life itself. A charnel house of power electronics might sunder the misery, the sparking shards of electrical activity or the reverberating clang of effected percussion hinting at a fading pulse and the Lazarus signs of a body locked in struggle with its own malfunctioning organs in groaning panoply as the inevitable entropic call to expire rebounds from speaker to speaker. Where Gnaw Their Tongues slices, rends severs, grinds and celebrates darkling rituals with all the inverse pomp of a symphonic black sabbath (rather than Black Sabbath), Aderlating punish the human machine, cracking skulls and taking names in order for Satan to determine who’s been naughty — and especially those who’ve not been very nice.
There’s much of the Inferno to Hell Follows, as might be expected, and titles such as “Choir of Sick Children” and “The Howling Pyriphlegethon Below” resonate with a distinctly Dantean sense of utter misery and choral despair played out against the audio equivalent of a blackened Gustave Doré woodcut slowly being eaten by the eternal fires of the Pit. It would be a relief to report that there is a let up in the bleakness; that there is hope beyond the aspiration towards at least a merciful release; perhaps the concluding track “The Silver Domain” hints that it might possibly be so, and there may be a light of redemption approaching after all (or more likely an oncoming funeral train).At once celebrating and banishing the primal dread of the final end, Hell Follows positively bathes in the posthumous tribulations which this album strongly suggests lie beyond the vale of tears. While it could be all to easy to mock and to dismiss Aderlating as gloom-mongers of a particular black-clad sort, their immersion in the night terrors and sleep-paralysed dreamscapes is delivered with an accomplished bravado which demands both concentration and abject surrender to the bleak certainty of death.
Perhaps best approached as a variety of Grande Guignol radio theatre, Hell Follows rewards the suspension of disbelief with a shivering series of spine-tinglers that set the horripilations going, especially given the right amount of volume and the minimum amount of light to set the mood. But in all truth, anything less than an abandonment of rational thought will not suffice to make the ritual worthwhile. Light that black candle, fire up the incense burner, pull the curtains and … descend.
Gnaw Their Tongues – Eschatological Scatology
Left to his own devices on Eschatological Scatology — originally available in 2012 as a download-only release having lain to fester since 2009; now put out by Infinite Fog on CD and an ultra-limited deluxe wooden box set that adds in a bonus Rites cassette, art cards and suchlike — Mories not only pursues his musical obsession with all things overpowering and murky, but plunges about as low as he’s ever been in the depravity that human beings are capable of committing, whether in thought or deed.Wrapped up in a cover as unsafe for pretty much any location, let alone work (save for some very specialised and perhaps dubious employers — or failing that, a splatter film studios) as any in Gnaw Their Tongues’ impressive series of covers featuring profoundly unsettling imagery, Eschatological Scatology rips an hour-long hole in time and space, distorting sound and other dimensions in a viscous morass of blastbeats, impenetrable yowling and discordances redolent of an all-pervasive sense of dread and collapse. As is Mories’ custom when in Gnaw their Tongues guise, the double-kicking he delivers is relentless and brutal. Malevolent orchestrations envelop the grimiest of tar-black metal, and while there’s a marshy quality to the sound for the most part, this is by no means outside the established standards of the form; and the hissy textures certainly add to the unsettling air which pervades the album.
It’s also perhaps Gnaw Their tongues outlinging Mories’ most conventional variation on symphonic black metal on occasion too: as the scarified brass sections of “Deepwood Bodytrap” rise to meet the frantic clawing pounding served up by “Lash Cultus”, it’s easy to envisage this being performed by a full live band (though Mories played everything here himself, even employing a suitably blank speech synthesizer to utter the disturbing litanies of “The Atrocious Angel Of Scatology”) lost in delirium as they thrash out their rage in the dankest of grotty European cellars. But the precision with which a yawning void is summoned as the music untwists itself like the uncoiling trail of a boreal lightshow burning in the northern skies and the percussive assault and battery of “Master I Am Done” spits fire and brimstone is at once terrifying and exhilarating, just as its transformation into a surging widescreen panoramic vision of the ultimate in epic orchestration is almost overpoweringly joyful, albeit briefly.
That music can be this excoriatingly powerful has never been beyond doubt, but Mories is to be congratulated on having taken it to the extremes he has without falling into the trap of being merely, glibly brutal: though there’s plenty of punishing noise on offer here, it is delivered both hard and with a self-contained purpose. Those moments where he allows a plaintive melody to saw through into the light, bracketed for instance by the sundering grimness of “A Sinister Lurking Grave” and “The Golden Altar Burns”, only serve to throw the full-tilt gallop which follows into even sharper, (rusty) knife-edged relief.
Eschatological Scatology may be (by his own admittedly harsh standards) one of Gnaw Their Tongues’ most conventional offerings, but it also puts most other records of its type in the deep, deep shade. Unheimlich and extreme, it provides a full body-flensing, brain-cleansing dash of vim and vigour for those willing to dive into Mories’ explorations of dissolute and depraved humanity.
Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues – N.V.
N.V. is a collaboration between Dragged Into Sunlight and Mories that propels itself into the very heart of darkness and despair. Taking Godflesh‘s seminal album of industrial metal Streetcleaner as a starting point and co-produced by Justin Broadrick himself alongside longtime DIS engineer Tom Dring, N.V. distils three hours of joint work into thirty minutes that both pays homage to and extends upon their collective source of inspiration without in any way resembling a cover album en route.This they do over five tracks spread across two sides of vinyl peppered with samples of murder confessions riding like scum on the surface of drum machines that often churn in that instantly-recognisable Godflesh-descended stomp, leavened with a plethora of black, thrash and plain old vicious metal and more recent industrial-styled flecks and bone-breaking crunch. The misanthropic levels ramped up and harshened, N.V. pulverises and shudders with their joint hardcore punkishness intact, moshing and pogoing away deep inside music that screams out its hatred and anguish in titles such as “Visceral Repulsion” and “Strangled With A Cord”. As a brief but far from perfunctory rollercoaster ride through seemingly as many negative emotions as can be smacked out and thrust repeatedly into to willing — or otherwise — ears of the listener, N.V. wallows in abject misery at a cracking pace. Hopefully GTT and DIS are obtaining a sense of cathartic release from making music like this; if not, their friends and family might be in trouble. The same applies to the audience, because getting this close and personal to detailed descriptions of murder, killing and torture crushed hard up against the gut-wrenching vocal yowls and screams isn’t something that should be allowed to fester inside too long. Better out than in seems to be the order of the day, and N.V. expectorates bile and spews forth all the grinding ire they have available to unload in a spiky snarl that crashes violently into the psyche’s very own vomitorium like there’s not only no tomorrow, but no day after to recover either.
Their sense of the dramatic allows for moments of bitter reflection among the sandblasted vocal umbrage, lurching bass slides and minor chords — just as Streetcleaner did. While musical times might have moved on, harder, faster and even louder — due in no small part to that album’s long-lasting influence — one of the most effective (and ultimately dispiriting and often downright nasty) aspects of this album are the flat and all-too real voices detailing the best way to shoot someone dead. N.V.‘s forthright expressions of existential blankness are timeless reminders that sometimes humans really just ain’t no good, as Nick Cave so pithily and wisely put it.