Reviews Gnaw This Face


This Face

Damn, when reading the former projects of the members of this group, one really starts to understand how insular a music scene can be in how the bands all break off and form new bands with different cross sections of each other. Gnaw contains members from an impressive list including Khanate, Burning Witch, Thorr’s Hammer, Atavist, OLD, Yard, and a bunch of others. But the members have wasted no time in writing and recording their debut album, This Face relatively quickly, and given the sound of what the members’ other projects touch on, the potential for bleak and dark sonic emanations and assaults seems to be fairly high.

Boy, is it ever. Bleak, swirling noise flows from the speakers with no rhyme or reason while somehow creating this claustrophobic type of terror, and if ever there was a sound for malice, This Face might contain it somewhere in its aural madness. Besides the vocals of Alan Dubin (whom listeners may recall from his work in Khanate), there are other vocalists as well, which adds to the brutish timbre in the music. Some of the tracks on This Face are more free form noise (see “Haven Vault,” “Watcher,” and “Ghosted” for examples) that contribute atmosphere and mood to the record while there are other pieces that have a more conventional song structure, and the two contrasts make for a stronger effect on the listener and create a stronger album. “Vacant” is a nasty track that falls in the latter “type” of songs that just inspires a general sense of dread with its percussive repetition and electronic thrum supporting a disturbing vocal performance. It is a powerful exercise in sonic terror. The driving rhythm section some how keeps “Feelers” moving amidst the electronic washes and the vocal intonations; the song truly is unique in its approach.

Sometimes raw and sometimes seemingly hellbent on creating one of the most negatively affecting records in recent memory, Gnaw’s This Face is a completely intense listening experience that kind of gives off the strangest mood. The album seemingly inspires dread and the type of tension that one would expect from a twisted horror movie rather than a record, but this speaks to the quality of Gnaw and the group’s abilities to fashion such a listening experience. Knowing the previous outfits of the members of Gnaw certainly provides somewhat of a spring board or reference point for what one can expect from the album, and in some ways, the record delivers in many of the same ways those bands did as well. This Face is a dark and forbidding album that will surely challenge listeners’ aural stamina and nerves (hell, it may even damage some poor individual’s fragile psyche), and maybe it is because of these darker qualities that the debut from Gnaw is so intriguing.

8.0 / 10Bob
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8.0 / 10

8.0 / 10

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