GNAW: This Face
Conspiracy Records

GNAW's debut album This Face opens with a maelstrom of noise and the intensity rarely lets up for a moment thereafter. Piercing the thrashing firestorm generated by the instrumentalists—drummer Jamie Sykes (ex-Burning Witch, Thorr's Hammer, Atavist), guitarist and bassist Carter Thornton (Enos Slaughter), electronics manipulator Jun Mizumachi (ex-Ike Yard) and sound designer Brian Beatrice—are eviscerating vocals by Alan Dubin (ex-Khanate, OLD) which sound as if he's singing while someone's ripping out his vocal cords with a razor blade. At times his voice sounds a little bit like Perry Farrell's whine after being dragged through a meat shredder. Not surprisingly, one struggles to decipher lyrics but they're included with the release for those desperate to know what Dubin's screaming about: “If I was nice I would bless you with this knife” (from “Backyard Frontier”) and “Stare into the face of scum, dead behind the eyes” and “Bleed out enemy / Now it's time to end” (from “Talking Mirrors”) capture the general mood. Musically, This Face is unquestionably punishing, but GNAW mercifully includes an occasional moment of relative calm (e.g., near the end of “Feelers”) though it passes quickly before the assault begins all over again. “Vacant” serves up guitar- and drum-heavy sludge, “Ghosted” painfully writhes like a dying mastodon, and the pummeling “Shard” presents nine minutes of chest-pounding aural surgery and rabid howl. “Watcher” offers a welcome sampling of Dubin's vocalizing minus the high-pitched scream, and backs it with a beatless, semi-industrialized mass of sluicing sound, and an outdoors field recording initiates “Backyard Frontier” before tribal tom-tom patterns, burning guitars, and Dubin's nightmarish wail take over. In a word, This Face is clearly not for the faint of heart. Vinyl fetishists take note: the release is available in white (100 copies), red (150), and the usual black (750).

March 2009