November 2015 will forever be the time in which two converging forces in the world of Black Metal finally came together in an explosion of aural mayhem. More specifically, this month is when Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues released their long-awaited split album NV. Consisting of five songs spanning about thirty minutes of music, NV assembles the thrashing chords and scorching vocals that have characterized Liverpool’s Dragged Into Sunlight over its previous releases, namely Hatred for Mankind (2009) and Widowmaker (2012), and the collage of audio clips, sound effects, and occasional instrumentation of the Netherlands’ Gnaw Their Tongues, whose most recent release, Abyss of Longing Throats (2015), was described as a “hellish cacophony of mangled industrial black metal, lurching heaviness, twisted electronic carnage and bombastic orchestral power.”
According to T, the vocalist for Dragged Into Sunlight, in an interview with Echoes and Dust: “We’d record Dragged Into Sunlight in arbitrary pieces and send it over to Mories [Gnaw Their Tongues] and he might re-record some drums or vocals, or add some vocals or noise, or add a bassline. Then it would go back to us and we’d record more drums, add more guitar, add more vocals, add some Moog – then it would go back to Mories and he’d add some of his more obscure influences. We’d work on it very carefully and each track, it wasn’t uncommon for us to go a year with just having done a single track.” Consequently, the process of writing and recording NV this way took about four years to produce the album that we have today.
As for what we have exactly, NV is one of the darkest, yet sonically satisfying albums of the year, which may sound strange, given the themes that define the collaboration. More to the point, the five tracks are titled: 1 “Visceral Repulsion,” 2 “Absolver,” 3 “Strangled with the Cord,” 4 “Omniscienza,” and 5 “Alchemy in the Subyear.” As for what these songs are about, I cannot say without a lyric sheet, which has yet to be posted anywhere that I can access. Unsurprisingly, like much of metal music over the past two decades, especially the subgenres of Black, Doom, Sludge, and Death, even the most ardent listeners will be challenged at discerning the lyrics. Then, again, purveyors of this type of music are typically not the type to sing-along.
On the contrary, an album like NV is meant for those seeking an intense experience of heavy chords, shattering the notes into fragments of reverberation, complemented by screeching vocals, which evoke the aliens, the ancient Babylonians, of The Fourth Kind. As for how the artists think of what they created, T said in the same interview cited above about the album’s title, NV, which stands for “Negative Volume”: “Well, I was having a conversation with a close friend of mine, one of the Bossk [members]. We were talking about it and watching Will Haven—they were playing—and he turned around and said, ‘I can’t deal with this modern volume, I remember back in the day, hitting it hard and look at these guys now, they’re still hitting it as hard, like the old stuff from years ago.’ Will Haven were a great band back then. Then they split. Negative Volume summarizes how it was back then with so many strong bands when scenes weren’t so restrictive. Godflesh is a negative volume, they just make you feel that discomfort and contempt that got those involved in Dragged Into Sunlight into extreme music.”
As for me, what I think Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues have created is a work of incredible significance. NV is one of these albums that is a complete world unto itself, in which the outrage of humankind’s collective psyche for its own sins and failings is validated through the music, words, and sounds of two artistic forces turning their unique musical visions into a double helix of light and darkness. NV is the iridescent soundtrack for the end of the world, just as the sun is burning out.