GNAW – Horrible Chamber (Review)

NYC’s GNAW have been around for over 7 years now. Originally, it began as a side-project of KHANATE’s Alan Dubin, but soon evolved into a full-fledged band. GNAW create a compelling blend of noise, sludge, industrial, and experimental metal, and their second album, Horrible Chamber, is an entertaining journey that never fails to keep the listener on their proverbial toes.

Horrible Chamber opens with “Humming”. The track begins with a somber, eerie solo piano rocking back and forth between a couple of notes. All of a sudden, I’m startled by noise and screams. The track meanders along with little structure or direction. The focus is (and remains for the rest of the album) on the vocals – tortured, insane ramblings that manifest in both whispers and shrieks. “Of Embers” is slightly more conventional in its approach: slow, crushing, ultra-heavy sludge that is one of the highlights of the album. I do enjoy “Water Rite”, with its war drums and barbaric chants, but for the most part, too much emphasis is put on the vocals, and the instrumentation is sparse. Drums, in general, sound incredible, but there’s usually not much else to speak of. Noises come and go – screeching, feedback, drones, and guitars, but there’s simply not enough meat here for me. “Vulture” and “This Horrible Chamber” continue the trend of drums, vocals, and a few noises thrown in, and then the album is over.

I don’t know… I like this stuff. Really, I do. I had no problem sitting back for a repeat listen and just losing myself in the strange, unstructured meanderings of Horrible Chamber. Boring it is not. Despite being sort of sparse instrumentally, some of Alan’s vocals are truly terrifying, and the minimalist approach does prove effective for the most part. I just can’t help but want more. Some harsher noise, chunkier guitars, or even just more menacing drones would be highly effective. In the end, I’d recommend this to anyone into experimental drone/noise. GNAW have an incredibly unique sound that you should check out.

– Zac C. Dendinger

Score: 85%

Standout tracks: “Of Embers”, “Water Rite”, “The Horrible Chamber”

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