Gnaw – Horrible Chamber

September 15, 2013 –

6_Panel_DigipakPowerviolence is a con. It’s pitched to us as the most extreme possible version of punk-based music, but under an affinity for noise, it’s a cross between sloppy hardcore and noise interludes with emo-derived vocals. There’s nothing new here or any particularity extremity.

The trick with extremity, by the way, is to make it musical. Any dunce can make droning ear pain. Very few can structure it in a way such that it becomes a meaningful listening experience. And if you don’t want a meaningful listening experience, you’re basically listening to Justin Bieber, even if you trick it out as noisecore.

Horrible Chamber isn’t horrible (heh) but it’s boring. The vocals require long decay, so there’s a process of syllables surging forth and then fading out, which requires slower tempi on the drums which in turn requires a certain amount of oversimplification. The percussion isn’t like metal, cadence-based, but tries to keep some bop under the rant and noise.

Riff-wise, there’s nothing in Gnaw we didn’t hear in the past thirty years of grindcore, hardcore and punk rock. Many of these riffs in fact sound more like rock hybrids, where the simplified punk version of a riff is gradually shaped back toward its pentatonic-friendly cousins. Nothing other than aesthetics distinguishes this.

And while Horrible Chamber achieves a good balance of noise to catchy parts, it also doesn’t really add anything to the life of anyone who has experienced more than entry-level punk music. Thus it gets the most damning of all record reviews, which is the default: it does little wrong, but not enough right, to stay relevant for long.