Thursday, September 22, 2016

Gnawed - Pestilence Beholden (2016)

Minnesota's Gnawed are back, with a record that I feel is described perfectly by the small amount of text located on the album's digipack. “All scrap metal, performed percussion and natural sounds were recorded within sewers, and rotting abandoned industrial complexes in Minneapolis.” In short, that pretty much sums up what you'll be hearing here as well. It's also quite good, as Gnawed give us a slightly different and surprisingly less ferocious atmosphere this time. When I first started up the record, I was expecting a great deal of unhinged anger and death electronics – but that's just not what I got and was thankful for it. Rather, there's something of an ominous and almost zen-like mist that pervades through the album. It doesn't feel pleasant, but it's not willing to rip your throat out either. As the text above implied, there is a heavy use of scrap metal scrapings on the disc, which help it to feel extremely metallic. We might call certain approaches of extreme rock music “heavy metal” but in all honesty, Gnawed is the sound of literal metal. Steel, iron, copper, aluminum – it's all here for your ears to explore. If this record had a smell, it would be that of a rotted old pipe left out for decades in an abandoned factory mixed in with the stale hint of a musty sewer.

Yes, there are moments of shouting on the disc (heavily masked with an effect) but they didn't reach in until much later, and once again I appreciate that the artist took time to think out of the box with this one. Industrial listeners expecting an atmosphere that matches the horrific imagery of malnourished humans on the album's digipack artwork will find exactly that in Pestilence Beholden. There's absolutely nothing that I couldn't recommend on this one, because it literally feels like cold, rotting metal and that is really what you want from industrial music. Real industrial music, where metal is used instead of rock or metal instruments and/or synthesizers. Admittedly, I like that sort of thing as well, but at least I know enough about this genre now to differentiate it from the dance-friendly distant cousin that exists on the other side of the paradigm. Gnawed fans won't be disappointed with this one, because it is exactly what they should expect from the artist at this point and feels like a more mature approach to the genre, even though it is straight-forward. Certainly worth picking up for any fan of industrial music and can be used as a educative tool to teach those who are unware of the difference in the two industrial genres. Gnawed have made the example with this one, with mastermind Grant Richardson showing everyone else what industrial music is really all about.

(9 Tracks, 55:00)


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