Monday, November 26, 2012

Music Review: Enbilulugugal/Gnashing of Teeth split CD

Today's review comes courtesy of two painfully harsh bands from the wastelands of central California. To call these groups blackened noise would be a simplification, as the brand of wretchedness and filth portrayed by each entity is unique and should not be so easily marked with a label. I can say that the music presented by these two terrifying groups is more likely to appeal to open-minded fans of noise than traditional black metal purists, but that should neither deter nor discourage folks who are here for metal. There are certainly enough horrific elements of metal to keep most fans of raw black metal quite content.

Enbilulugugal, whose name is as challenging as their music, occupy the first six tracks of this split, opening and closing with two pieces that are thematically linked in title, if not in sound. "His Ascent From Hell" lurches into existence with the sounds of some fearsome creature awakening from eons of slumber, preparing to climb out from the depths to destroy all life on this planet. While it does not reach the scathing extremes of Enbilulugugal's other tracks here, this is one of the best introductory pieces I've heard in quite some time. The following tracks make the eerie atmosphere of "His Ascent From Hell" sound almost friendly, with sirens blaring, screams echoing throughout, and murky guitars barely walking the line between distant melody and pure, unfiltered dissonant noise. If Enbilulugugal is attempting to capture the sounds of some ancient terror making its way to the earth and bringing about the end of the world, this is a fitting soundtrack. These six songs are more about feeling than "rocking out" or finding a noticeable hook, but if you've been following my blog this far, you'll know to expect that by now. If you're willing to sample the true intensity presented here, brace yourself and give the violent "Ruler of the Gnarled Woods" a thorough listen. It's hardly a pretty endeavor, but it's a worthwhile listen nonetheless. As a denouement and companion of sorts to the opening track, Enbilulugugal bring their destruction to a close with the appropriately hellish "His Descent Into Armageddon." If things opened in a slower and friendlier fashion, then Enbilulugugal is sure to end it in the most violent way possible. This collection of atrocities is the farthest thing from a song possible and is a great way to segue into Gnashing of Teeth's contributions to this split album.

Following the six track description of the world's end is Gnashing of Teeth's aggressive noise assault. The production is denser, the feedback is turned up to 11, and each song sounds like two songs layered on top of each other: one a distant black drone song, the other a harsh noise piece. With the chaos presented here, it's impossible to finish off these four final tracks without some sense of anxiety or discomfort. In fact, discomfort and uneasiness are where Gnashing of Teeth's sole member seems to find his true peace, as if he were at the eye of some hideous storm, conducting the madness from the only safe haven in the chaos. Fully immersing himself in the music, you can almost hear the sanity of the creator slipping away somewhere in the fractured chords and walls of static presented in my personal favorite, "Sea of Broken Children." There are elements of tonality and beauty hidden in the filth here, but it requires a dedication and commitment as a listener that most people don't have and can't develop. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to music like this: it's impossible to passively listen to this. You either make a conscious effort to digest what's being presented and truly appreciate it, or you'll stand no chance of understanding what you hear. At first listen the music is hardly music, it's just a collection of scratching noise and tortured howls, but after deep inspection, there is so much beauty and passion poured into this music that it's impossible to deny.

If you're interested in purchasing this stellar split, both bands can be contacted through their facebook pages, linked above, or you can enjoy it as a download from Enbilulugugal's bandcamp page. These bands are both dedicated to supporting other musicians in the black noise underground and deserve your attention. Even if this overwhelms your personal tastes, share this filth with your friends. You never know who may benefit from this slab of terror.

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