When it’s time to familiarize myself with any given Angry Metal
Homework Review Assignment, I listen to said album non-stop for as many spins as my time constraints allow. Fortunately, the nature of my real/other job finds me outdoors and listening to music more often than not, which may or may not account for a rather drastic positive shift in my overall outlook on life. Unfortunately, this also meant that most of my listening time with the thing we’re about to discuss was spent weed-whacking in 93+ degree temperatures for roughly forever, which may or may not account for the rather drastic and negative stance I hold regarding Burning Ad Infinitum: A Collaboration, a joint effort between Gnaw Their Tongues and Crowhurst.
In many ways, this collaboration makes perfect sense. The lo-fi, chaotic-noise aesthetic of Gnaw Their Tongues is a very natural direction for the experimental drone of Crowhurst to wander off to, and vice versa. Given the prolific nature of GTT‘s Maurice de Jong and Crowhurst mastermind Jay Gambit, it’s also pretty much par for the course that these two noise mongers eventually crossed paths and left some tracks in their wake. Burning finds the two fuelling each other’s visceral sonic tendencies with an admittedly impressive sense of organic cohesion, and by all means this compositional chemistry sounds good on paper, but it ends there. I’m genuinely bummed to be the bearer of bad news, but from my horribly oppressive cage of objectivity, subjectivity, political correctness and – most importantly – Muppet correctness, I am able to live with saying that Burning sounds like shit.
I don’t intend to put down or even describe the musical output of either party responsible for the crimes committed here with that statement. Both artists have demonstrated their respective abilities to craft engaging compositions within their given sonispheres, and Burning doesn’t negate this truth with its existence. Indeed, the 4 track ‘album’ is a pretty straightforward union of experimental noise and the grim aesthetic of the lowest of lo-fi blackness… I think. Beyond the collaboration’s heavy emphasis on its noise elements, the lo-fi factor is so overwhelming that I’m not convinced this isn’t a cellphone recording of a cellphone recording of a Yak Bak recording. Everything here is so squashed and buried that it’s almost impossible to discern any actual musical activity going on at any given point, let alone enjoy any of it. Sure, there’s at least a second or two of “The Divinity of Our Great Perversions” that I don’t entirely loathe, and… no, wait, that’s actually it.
I genuinely respect the collaborative effort put into Burning, but the fatally stifling mix renders the whole ordeal all but unlistenable. This is almost certainly the point, yet success in that mission ultimately comes at the cost of me failing to understand why one would even bother to record this, let alone pay to hear it. Industrial noise and sinister ambiance with minimal discernible instrumental contributions droning on for 37 minutes is likely a tough enough sell to begin with, burying everything under static and a mix that even Varg would decry only makes things frustrating to the point of being offensive. Factor in that all of this un-joy is to be had only after enduring the 9-minute drone of opener “Nothing’s Sacred”, and each listen feels more like a slap in the face than the last. I can hear de Jong screaming, and that’s about it: what am I supposed to describe if that’s all there is to describe? Surely there’s an audience for this – it’s a thing, after all – but Muppet is not amused. Burning is the sound of tortured screams heard from just outside Jigsaw’s basement, and not in a good way.
By now, I’ve said everything I can say about Burning without turning this into a straight-up rant. If static with a hint of screaming is your thing, by all means check this out and feel free to berate me with a rant of your own on just how much I don’t get what’s going on here. However, after at least 30 or so listens, I can only contend that either I’ll never get it or else there’s really nothing to get. Any and all musical activity on Burning is utterly suffocated, there simply isn’t enough audible instrumentation for me to wax reviewical on and my favorite thing about it is that I’ll never have to listen to it again now that this ‘review’ is done.
DR: ? | Format Reviewed: 256 kbps mp3
Label: Crown and Throne Ltd Records
Websites: gnawtheirtongues/bandcamp.com | facebook.com/gnawtheirtongues | crowhurst/bandcamp.com | facebook.com/crowhurstnoise
Releases Worldwide: August 31st, 2018