After dropping a debut self-titled EP that Cvlt Nation called one of the “Top 10 Sludge Releases of 2016,” GNAW BONE returns with a new slab of blackened metal in “Scorched Earth,” their second EP and first with a new trio lineup. Featuring the addition of bass guitar as well as 2 new vocalists, “Scorched Earth” presents a world as bleak as its title, filled with greyscale ruins destroyed by the crushing doom, crust, death, and black metal of GNAW BONE.
Although merely a trio, GNAW BONE lay waste to fuller bands by employing a dense and distorted sonic arsenal comprised of vintage amp walls and cascading stages of distortion and fuzz. The percussion of GNAW BONE is utterly primal - intense and pummeling yet remaining steadfastly in the distance. As a final layer of odious intent, GNAW BONE is fleshed out by vocals delivered from all three members, each featuring a distinct style & timbre ranging from high-pitched shrieks to guttural growls.
The album opens with “The End,” a suspenseful introduction that quickly changes course by cascading into a wall of blast beats and black metal progressions beneath ghastly screams describing the instruments of death. Balancing dynamics with fury, the track rises and falls in intensity multiple times before exploding into a mirror image of its opening and evaporating into fog. Like slow-moving tar, “Crown Lust” immediately submerges the listener into a down-tempo pond of murky sludge before finally strangling them with dissonant, angular rhythms and a barrage of call & response vocals. Continuously descending, the track builds in speed and technicality until it collapses into a bottomless pit of tortured howls over glacially-paced chords of pure distortion. “Scorched Earth” offers a slight respite in its extended intro, an epic and darkly-melodic prologue to the carnage of death metal riffing unleashed after it. Emphasizing the unforgiving nature of an obliterated landscape, the track devolves into an atmospheric cloud of noise, providing a soundtrack to the doomsday proclamations emanating through the rubble. After moments of solitude from a sparse acoustic passage, the album climaxes in the utterly pummeling doom of “Fallen Rulers,” a trudging tribute to the beasts of past eras.
- Auris Apothecary