GNAW – This Face (2009)

Gnaw - This Face Doom supergroups are not as uncommon as you might think. Back in 2001, Teeth of Lions Rule The Divine formed – the band (which takes its name from a song by Earth), featured Greg Anderson and Stephen O’Malley from Sunn O)))/Burning Witch, Lee Dorian from Cathedral and Justin Greaves of Electric Wizard (and now the folk-doom band Crippled Black Phoenix). And this year, we’re going to be treated to a release by Shrinebuilder (an ensemble featuring members of Neurosis, Sleep and Melvins, plus guitarist/vocalist Wino – how can this not be awesome?). But until Shrinebuilder comes to pass, we have This Face, the debut album of Gnaw.

So, who makes up Gnaw? Well, there’s Alan Dubin (formerly of Khanate and OLD), Jamie Sykes (Thor’s Hammer/Burning Witch), for starters. For a doom supergroup, that’s a good base. But Gnaw’s sound is not what you’d expect from looking at the pedigree of the aforementioned members (though This Face certainly won’t take anyone familiar with them by surprise) – it’s the other members that make the group unique. The hazy, industrial layers of grime and ambient electro-torture come courtesy of two contributing sound designers (Jun Mizumatchi and Brian Beatrice), and Carter Thornton (a man who’s knack for making homemade instrumental weirdness rivals that of ex-Sleepytime Gorilla Museum percussion wizard Moe! Staiano).

The album sounds as if it’s being transmitted directly from Hell; Dubin’s screams have never sounded as ear-shriekingly painful as they are here, and the atmosphere of the album isn’t overly dense; the entire thing sounds like a wave of bong-smoke that’s starting to disperse outward of its own accord. Overall, This Face owes its greatest aural debt to Khanate, a band who have the distinction of creating the only I’ve heard music that actually sounds like dying. If Merzbow took some Khanate material and shredded it digitally, and then John Congleton produced it, it would probably sound something like this.

While Gnaw is the unfortunate position of being deemed “too extreme” by some, and “not extreme enough” by others, most metal fans will find the album to be somewhere in the middle (and consequently, enjoy the hell out of it). Anyways, to sum it up: another great metal album of 2009? Hell yeah!

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One Response to “GNAW – This Face (2009)”

  1. […] looking for some seriously heavy and twisted music this year, I’d suggest Gnaw’s This Face – it’s a warped, bone crushing experience. And if you want to experience some true […]

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