“GENOCIDAL MAJESTY” is Gnaw Their Tongues’ Defining Work
In John Carpenter’s 1995 film In the Mouth of Madness, the world is on the brink of collapse at the hands of unseen interdimensional horrors. No one knows it, of course -- everyone is too preoccupied with the writings of Sutter Cane, the horror fiction author and global phenomenon. But as the film quickly reveals, Cane is no mere Stephen King stand-in: he is the arbiter of the apocalypse whose writings shape the events that will ultimately culminate in the end of the world.
But while Cane is in control of our doings, he is powerless compared to the abominations controlling him. The eldritch author channels destruction at every turn; his power lies in what remains unseen. He is the vessel through which Earth’s destruction flows.
Cane, if he existed, might have found a contemporary in Maurice de Jong. The composer, known to his fans as "Mories," has released roughly 70 albums and EPs under at least five different aliases, each testing the listener’s emotional resolve. His work is regularly described as “hellish,” and for good reason: de Jong’s extensive catalogue of blackened noise and drone is, at its best, dread-inducing on a biblical scale.
Mories’ latest work as Gnaw Their Tongues (his chief alias) might be a new listener’s best introduction to his abyssal world. GENOCIDAL MAJESTY, released February 8th, is one of his most compact and succinct works yet. Just a half-hour long, GENOCIDAL MAJESTY carries none of the drawn-out, drone-y wankery that often comes with the intersection of black metal and noise. It distills all of the project’s strengths into a concise onslaught of horror.
The album opens abruptly with “DEATH LEAVES THE WORLD,” a track that simply begins: no introduction, no buildup, only an immediate cavalcade of blistering noise. The drums, a mixture of electronic and acoustic percussion, clip violently to the top of the mix, acting as an anchor for the cacophonous swells of feedback and atonal instrumentation beneath the surface. Then, the vocals: Mories’ shrieks and guttural snarls have always been ferocious, but here they are downright harrowing. He is not exploring physical and mental pain as on previous releases; here, he’s inflicting it.
He’s not alone, either. The piercing howls of The Body’s Chip King are a welcome presence in two tracks on GENOCIDAL MAJESTY: “SPIRITS BROKEN BY SWORDS” and “THE DOCTRINE OF PARANOID SERAPHIMS.” While King’s vocals have not always proven to be effective on some of The Body’s less-inspired collaborations, here they are a perfect match. King moans like de Jong’s abused servant, and when their vocals overlap it creates a truly nauseating atmosphere.
Despite the chaotic and free-flowing nature of the instrumentation, these songs move with clarity despite the genre’s steep learning curve. De Jong offers listeners a road map, and while there are not traditional bridges, verses, and choruses, the songs all move with clear intent. “COLD OVEN,” the album’s sixth and strongest track, exemplifies this. The industrial percussion is matched by initially sparse instrumentation. But, as the track builds, it grows more frightful, picking up momentum until the listener is eventually assaulted by a punishing wall of feedback.
While on the surface GENOCIDAL MAJESTY might read like an unending wave of noise, de Jong levels the chaos with a composer’s touch. Sudden, brief moments of silence appear across the album, acting not as a respite from the chaos but as effective tension-builders. Other subtleties dot these compositions, e.g. a swell of strings which lasts only a second on “COLD OVEN” and the dialogue samples on the first and final tracks. There is a tremendous amount of care here. For all of Mories’ well-documented misanthropy, his music is not indifferent toward its listener in the slightest.
It’s possible to view Gnaw Their Tongues as bordering on melodrama. The song titles, album names, and general themes of the project might feel, at casual glance, like exercises in well-worn metal tropes. But GENOCIDAL MAJESTY puts those notions to rest once and for all. It wholly backs up the apocalyptic, antinatalist fervor de Jong projects, every bit as horrifying as titles like “TO BEAR WITNESS TO THE TRUTH” and “TEN BODIES HANGING” might suggest. This is the spirit of metal in its purest form, and a phenomenal testament to the staying power of Gnaw Their Tongues. He is a fitting bard for the inevitable end of time.
-- Michael Siebert
Follow Gnaw Their Tongues on Bandcamp here.