Photo courtesy of Gnaw Their Tongues
It is written in the Bible that when the devil appears on earth he will be disguised as an “Angel of Light.” Gnaw Their Tongues frontman Mories isn’t the devil, but he sure makes hellish music—and he makes a lot of it. Since 2005, when the shy, soft-spoken Dutchman changed the name of his one-man studio project from Dimlit Hate Cellar to Gnaw Their Tongues, Mories has released 8 full-length albums, 16 EPs and been on 9 split releases, including Dyodo Asema, last year’s droning, sludgy horrorshow with his countrymen in Alkerdeel.
Gnaw Their Tongues’ 8th album, Abyss of Longing Throats (out August 7 on Crucial Blast), is a harrowing blend of droning post-black metal, industrial, classical and avant-garde noise that burrows through the skin like feasting maggots. Noisey spoke with the prolific composer about his hatred for mankind, why he writes about puking and shitting, and what possessed him to finally leave the darkness of his home studio and hit the road.
While you're venturing deeper into Mories's world, listen to an exclusive unreleased track, "Devoured," that will appear on an upcoming EP.
Gnaw Their Tongues conjures feelings of contempt, disgust and physical illness. Is that how you feel about your fellow man?
In the beginning of Gnaw Their Tongues I was in a really weird, bad place and my absolute disgust for people was the main subject of the music. These days I'm more balanced mentally, but I still have a great disappointment in humanity.
Was there a particular event in your life that made you feel this "absolute disgust?"
I don’t want to get too personal. Let’s just say I’ve always felt a general disappointment in people. At the same time, I try not to let this negativity take over my life. I try to be nice and give people a chance. But, you know, it’s usually not worth it. I find people generally disappoint you.
You have written songs about a host of graphic subjects, from serial killers, the hypocrisy of organized religion and the decomposition of corpses to shit, piss, and vomit.
The terrifying things that happen in the world every day are inspirational to me. Mostly, it’s real life horror stories like the Islamic State atrocities and true crime. I have done songs about organ trading in Africa. The references I make to bodily function exemplify the disgusting aspects I see in humanity. They are foul beings with foul actions. I do not feel trapped in my body and I do not fear death. It’s all part of being human. Yes, I loathe most humans. At the same time I'm part of humanity. There are so many fucked up things going on every day I'll never run out of inspiration.
Do you find beauty in ugliness?
Yes, there is beauty in ugliness and yes, I like to look at ugly things for my music. I used to see only ugliness. These days I see beautiful things, too. For Gnaw Their Tongues I concentrate on darkness. With one of my other projects, Seirom, I look for the light.
Gnaw Their Tongues was a studio-only solo project for almost ten years. Why did you decide to start playing live?
I did a [19-minute-long] collaboration track with the Belgian sludgy black metal band Alkerdeel in 2014. We got asked to play it live as part of the “Inspired by Black Metal” show they had in the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels. It was a fantastic experience that really set things in motion for me. So, when I got asked to play the Maryland Deathfest and do a U.S. tour with Gnaw Their Tongues, I couldn't say no.
Was it nerve wracking to translate your harrowing, multi-tracked one-man studio music in a live environment with other musicians?
I selected tracks which I thought would work best live and which were the most doable. I knew I could never have a full band because of the costs and the logistics of that. From the start, it was clear it would only be me with at most two other people. So I had to arrange the sounds so they would work live. It does feel really weird playing tracks which have so much meaning to me—it feels great, actually.
Even discounting your other projects—Seirom, Aderlating, Cloak of Altering and Pyriphlegethon—the amount of work you have done for Gnaw Their Tongues alone is astounding. You have had 33 releases since 2006, and you have a full-time job as a graphic designer. Do you spend all of your spare time writing music?
I used to spend all my free time sitting in my studio creating. But those days are over. I guess, it got to be too much and I needed to get out and do other things, like go to the pub with friends once in a while -- though I do spend most of my time in my studio these days. I have this inner drive to create and doing music comes easy to me; making music is the best way for me to communicate with the world. if I was talented in some other way I think I would just as easily paint or write, but my talent lies with music.
What was your first exposure to extreme music?
Slayer’s Reign in Blood was the first vinyl I bought. That got me into death metal, then black metal. I was into tape trading in the late 80s, and that was an important part of my metal upbringing.
What are some of your main sources of inspiration besides black metal?
I like orchestrated horror and suspense movie soundtracks from the 60s and 70s, and avant-garde composers such as Luciano Berio, Krzysztof Penderecki, Alfred Schnittke and György Ligeti. As for industrial, Throbbing Gristle and Coil are my absolute favorites.
When did you write Abyss of Longing Throats, and how did you want it to be a development from your other releases?
It took a long time to write the new record. I started in 2013 and it was spread out over a long period until I finished in 2015. There was no plan for the record. I was just glad to have some inspiration to come back and do some Gnaw Their Tongues music.
What do you mean “come back?” Just last year you released the collaboration with Alkedeel and the EP Wir Essen Seelen In Der Nacht.
The EP was already finished. The last real Gnaw Their Tongues recordings that I did were in 2011. And those have come out in the years that followed. I was totally not inspired to do Gnaw Their Tongues for more than a year, so when I got back into it I recorded a bunch a tracks just like in the beginning. No over-thinking, just create and let the energy flow freely.
The album sounds like the score to a nightmare that won’t end.
The first track, “Lick the Poison From the Cave Walls,” is about a nightmare I had involving a damp cave. The most important aspect of my nightmares is this all-pervading sense of mortal fear—feeling like you are going to die. My nightmares are usually filled with bizarre people or creatures and there are usually lots of dead people. I liked the word “throats” for the title because it relates to so many things, such as screaming from your throat or slitting someone’s throat. There have been so many beheadings lately from Islamic extremists. That’s another horror that involves the throat.
There’s an anti-religious vibe to the record, as there is with much of your material. And your name comes from a section from Revelations 16:10. Are you an adherent of the “left hand path?”
No, I’m 100 percent atheist. I’m interested in religion, but purely from a point to understand people a little better. I’m actually the most down to earth guy you will ever meet.
'Abyss of Longing Throats' is out August 7 on Crucial Blast.