The collaboration between Dragged Into Sunlight and Gnaw Their Tongues can only have taken place with the full approval of some hellish forces to create one of the most harrowing, blistering and brutal records of 2015. Five songs is all that N.V. has to offer, but it’s more than enough for the average listener to endure.
Combining the bleak black doomed metallers from the United Kingdom with Dutch experimental black noise producers would seem like an insane idea, but it actually works to weave some special kind of black magic of the darkest kind. The title stands for Negative Volume, which is exactly what you get to hear on this album. Grim, burning despair and negativity in its pure sonic form.
Opening track Visceral Repulsion has the perfect build-up. A cold, bleary drone reverberates through the air, while a ships horn announces in a bombastic way the start of the song, the industrial clanging can be heard of old factories. It is all just a precursor for absolute hell to break loose with an aural assault of blast beats, guitars and tortured, burbling barks. It’s as if the musicians want to give you the proper welcome to a whole new personal hell.
The more intense the record becomes, the more its cohesion seems to work well. You’d think that the barrage would disintegrate into noise and chaos, but it really doesn’t. That might be the brilliance of Mories at work. It’s a punishing record that holds a cathartic experience for the listener that you actually will be coming back to for its sheer overwhelming nature. It’s not the intrinsic weaving together of all elements that you’ll detect while listening (it is there though), but its visceral force itself. A song like Strangled With The Cord demonstrates this well, there is never any peace for the listener, no moment of reflection and contemplation. There is only the experience, the horrible path through the dark with nightmares assailing you.
When the philosopher Immanuel Kant (bear with me, I’m not going to take the complex explanation here, nor am I going to be entirely correct) talked in his work on aesthetics about the sublime, he talks about an experience that doesn’t allow for description. It is limitless and overwhelming to the extent that it renders the senses numb and is terrifying to the beholder. Therefore, the sublime is rarely a manmade object or art. If there was ever an aural experience that came close to that, this album would be it. In all its complexity, listening to the album is hard enough, but focussing on the elements is even harder.
N.V. is a purifying experience that leaves you bewildered and utterly blown away. It’s an album for the year lists, for those who have are daring enough to get through it.
Scribed by: Guido Segers