Gnawed – Terminal Epoch CD Phage Tapes 2012
Following a myriad of cassettes, split releases and CDr’s over the last three years, ‘Terminal Epoch’ arrives as the debut album proper from Gnawed (featuring 12 tracks over 51 minutes). So for those not familiar with Gnawed, they are amongst the current crop of US power electronics/ death industrial artists who have been receiving a fair amount of positive interest in recent years, which includes the likes of Nyodene D, The Vomit Arsonist, Steel Hook Prosthesis etc. Thus taken from this perspective ‘Terminal Epoch’ presents yet another solid and pulverising release from the US power electronics/ death industrial scene.
Generally speaking I would say that Gnawed are slightly less polished and refined when considered alongside the aforementioned acts, but nevertheless they represent a project which appreciates the means to deliver a forceful album. Each of the tracks follow a fairly straight forward structure and tend to quickly establish their core elements – distortion, feedback, synth drones, vocals etc – and then loop the formed structures for the length of the track (which range from the shortest at 1.36 minutes to the longest at 7.07 minutes). Yet as the average length of tracks is in the order of 4 minutes, it seems the modus operandi of Gnawed is to quickly establish the tone of each piece, but not extend it to a length which becomes tedious or otherwise loses impact. In effect this is somewhat similar to the short, sharp and to the point approach of Ex.Order.
Overall one of the clearest impressions I get from this album is that it achieves an atmosphere which welds the aggressive with the ominous, which is certainly a positive combination. The multi-layered aspect of sound helps achieve this via an array of elements including: sustained/ fluctuating noise; tense and atmospheric synth layers; scrap metal abuse; drilling distortion etc. The vocals are also an absolute highlight, presented with a raw, harsh and searing treatment of the power electronics variety. Ultimately ‘Terminal Epoch’ is a heavy, no frills, and straight to the point power electronics/ death industrial album – and a commendable one at that. Recommended.