Gnaw Their Tongues - Hymns for the Broken, Swollen And Silent album review

Scabrous stalwarts get the black blood pumping

Cover art for Gnaw Their Tongues' Hymns for the Broken, Swollen and Silent

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When your entire raison d’etre is to disturb and appal, it eventually becomes harder and harder to elicit the same shocked reactions. Gnaw Their Tongues have made a lot of very dark, twisted and unsettling records and on a superficial level, Hymns… is one of their most coherent and listenable.

It’s still utterly grim and nauseating, of course. Simple but effective tricks, like the shrieking child’s voice at the end of opener Hold High The Banners Of Truth Among The Swollen Dead and Frail As The Stalking Lions torrent of glitchy blastbeats, ensure that there are nasty surprises lurking in the shadows. But where earlier records revelled in an amorphous sense of the surreal, this one feels like the work of blood, muscle and bone, rather than hellish ghosts operating the machinery. The Speared Promises is particularly gripping, like a Cop-era Swans rehearsal gatecrashed by murderous robots and remixed by Squarepusher. The album closes with Our Mouths Ridden With Worms: a fate well deserved, and here is the suitably horrifying soundtrack.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Metal Hammer and Prog for over 14 years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He also contributes to The Guardian, Classic Rock, Bravewords and Blabbermouth and has previously written for Kerrang! magazine in the mid-2000s.