Review: Gnaw Their Tongues & Crowhurst – Burning Ad Infinitum


Label: Crown and Thorne Ltd (vinyl) / Tartarus Records (cassette)

At some point in the distant future, the world will end. The end of humanity is coming ever-sooner, to the extent that human extinction within the next hundred years is ever-more likely. And then there’s the period after that ending, up until the expansion of the sun, consuming the Earth so that there is no trace of our species left. Between those two points, the broken machinery and ruins of cities will be our legacies – automated processes screaming in to the void, computers and robots toiling away uselessly until their circuits finally give way to an ending. It’s this bleak future that Burning ad Infinitum makes me think of, with the collaboration between Gnaw Their Tongues and Crowhurst combining noise, drone, and bursts of grinding metal in the most inhospitable and damaged of ways.

Both artists involved have always sat upon the fringes of already extreme genres. For all their popularity in underground circles, there’s no denying the extremity of the project’s output, nor the way that their blend of noise and black metal simultaneously belongs to both genres, and yet also belongs to neither. Likewise, Crowhurst have never sat comfortably within any genre for any length of time, having used, at various times, elements of sludge, black metal, noise, and power electronics. As such, the two acts teaming up makes perfect sense, and Burning ad Infinitum is just as extreme as you would hope for.

The record starts with ‘Nothing’s Sacred’, a slow-burning track that opens with inhospitable drones, gradually adding layers of noise and darkness as it moves on, eventually becoming a monster of noise and death industrial. It’s as close to Burning ad Infinitum comes to accessible, and – in terms of signalling intent and ethos – it works perfectly as an introduction. The track makes clear that there is no comfort to be found here, nothing here that even vaguely resembles humanity as it is commonly understood.

With second track ‘Speared Martyrs’, vicious hardcore/grind is introducted in addition to the noise elements, adding something overtly human to the record – but it’s a scream of futile defiance, the sound of pushing back against an eventuality that cannot be denied. In no way can it possibly be described as enjoyable; yet it’s impossible to look away from, latching hold of the listener with hooks and barbed wire, tearing at skin as it pulls you deeper in to its apocalyptic abyss. The Blinding Fury of Suffering’ ups the torment even further. The death industrial and noise elements come to the fore with this track, providing exactly the kind of experience you’d hope for from a track with such a title.

And yet, all of this ends up feeling like a prelude to final track, ‘The Divinity of our Great Perversions’. A true leviathan of a track, lasting over fifteen minutes, it opens with static-laced noise before drums that pound with a world-ending sense of dread. From there, frantic, grinding riffs and blasting drums are added, moving with the kind of chaos that makes early Dillinger Escape Plan and their ilk seem tame. This lasts until around the six minute mark, at which point the tempo drops down, the song moving into the sort of post-apocalytpic territories usually occupied by bands like The Body – albeit with an added sense of chaos and noise-fuelled devastation. All of which makes the lurch back into chaotic hardcore/metal, and then power electronics, so shocking and effective. The song keeps twisting and turning, pulling the carpet from underneath the listener every time they might begin to feel anything close to comfortable. It’s a crowning achivement on a punishing, devastating record that is hostile and damaged throughout, but ends with a track that amplifies everything that has come before, both musically and emotionally.

Burning ad Infinitum was never going to be an easy listen, and given the nature of those involved, it would have been easy to expect something even more devastating than usual. That’s exactly what the collaboration delivers; the characteristics of both Gnaw Their Tongues and Crowhurst are present throughout, but it’s the way they compliment one another that raises Burning ad Infinitum above expectations. You might not turn to this record often, but there’s no denying that it’s something special.

Burning ad Infinitum is due for release on 31 August 2018; it can be pre-ordered on vinyl from Crown and Thorne Ltd. The cassette release, via Tartarus Records, is due in October.


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