Review: Gnaw Their Tongues — Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will . . . uh . . . cast out demons.
“I command you, unclean spirit, whoever you are, along with all your minions now attacking this servant of God, by the mysteries of the incarnation, passion, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, by the descent of the Holy Spirit, by the coming of our Lord for judgment, that you tell my by some sign your name, and the day and hour of your departure. I command you, moreover, to obey me to the letter, I who am a minister of God despite my unworthiness; nor shall you be emboldened to harm in any way this creature of God, or the bystanders, or any of their possessions.“
You are going to want to memorize this passage from the Catholic Rite of Exorcism* or at least have a transcript of it handy before delving into Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent, the latest profanation from Gnaw Their Tongues. Why? Well, one glance at the GTT bandcamp page and you’ll notice that between GTT and related projects (Cloak of Altering, Seirom, Aderlating et al.) Mr. Mories is a busy little beaver. But the fact is that Mories is not a beaver. Nor a machine. He is a man possessed by something inhuman from beyond this monotonous veil. No human alone could produce such a ceaseless stream of blasphemies; he must have had some help from the host of uncouth parasites clinging to his endangered soul.
His Their works are as plentiful and unpleasant as the bowel movements produced by a high-fiber diet. And with this, their latest hellish defecation, they finally succeed in transferring their demonic essence into the audio realm. My point: Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent is as possessed as its creator — and you will be too if you listen without taking precautions. So grab your rosary, your family Bible and a pint of holy water and let’s get down to it.
I am by no means a scholar of Mories’s inexhaustible catalogue, but I am familiar enough with the prolific works of Gnaw Their Tongues to suggest that Hymns just might be his most hair-raising album to date. In the past he has sought to compose music inspired by horror. With Hymns, he eschews mere inspiration in order to create horror itself. The ingredients he employs to this end here are more or less the same as ever: foreboding industrial beats, haunting strings, hideous shrieks and choral chants of the damned, supplemented by all manner of samples, dark ambience and noise. The most striking departure is that whereas past works were conducted around a basic altar of metal, Hymns plays more like a cinematic score: the soundtrack to an actual exorcism. The album is replete with possessed voices, abyssal beats and mephitic sound collages, each tortured track bleeding inexorably into the next. Whereas Mories usually delights in assaulting listeners with relentless barrages of frightening noise, the whole of Hymns is saturated instead with a sense of space, of eerie silences lurking between the individual musical elements. (Take a look at that cover art and tell me those bones separated by white space aren’t an indication of where he’s going here.) The record breathes, and as it does so, it sucks you into its lungs. Therein awaits a labyrinth of sounds that should not be; a kaleidoscopic purgatory of shifting textures and slithering frequencies. Cinematic as the tracks may be, this is not background listening. Your ear cannot help but wander around these unhallowed halls; you may become entranced, you may even become lost, but tuning out is impossible. Unless of course you have no stomach for the Gnaw Their Tongues aesthetic at all, in which case it might just sound like a steaming pile of gobbledygook.
It should be clear by now that Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent is not for most people. It may only be for the mentally ill, or those with a vested interest in mental illness. Or for people studying to take the cloth. It is not a radical departure from Mories’s established schtick, yet it certainly is a distinct and self-contained piece. It is not catchy, it does not rock, and if you listen long enough you might start seeing spiders. But for listeners who are at least open to the idea that this kind of anti-music has its charms, it is a masterful work from the hoary depths of an apparently bottomless well.
Ready for more? Repeat after me:
“I cast you out, unclean spirit, along with every Satanic power of the enemy, every spectre from hell, and all your fell companions; in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Begone and stay far from this creature of God. For it is He who commands you, He who flung you headlong from the heights of heaven into the depths of hell.”
4/5 Flaming Toilet Emojis
*This is the abridged version. The actual rite is like a thousand pages long and teeming with repetitive gibberish.
Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent will be released on December 9th. LP on Consouling Sounds. Cassette on Tartarus. Buy the digital or keep a daily vigil of Mories’s ever-bloating body of work on the Gnaw Their Tongues bandcamp page.