Gnaw Bone – Rotten Earth

3 out of 5

Label: Auris Apothecary

Produced by: Gnaw Bone (recorded, mixed by)

Gnaw Bone… learned how to record?

Thrash / Death metal / hardcore group Gnaw Bone, across their debut and followup, seemed to prioritize a particular lo-fi, doom aesthetic over carving out a clear identity for their band, resulting in some good tracks, but – especially on the sophomore Scorched Earth – losing out on re-listenability due to poor fidelity and song structure.

This two track EP continues down the death metal vibe they’d been pursuing, and is again recorded live, but it’s much more balanced than their other releases in both criticized aspects: while the recording is still mushy, all of the elements of guitar and drums and vocals can be heard consistently; the power of their pummeling is apparent. And in terms of construction, both A-side Tar Pit and B-side Five Stages stay on target, sticking to a consistent tone and doing ebb and flow of thrash and breakdowns in a manner that serves the song, and doesn’t just aim for being loud and punishing. I wouldn’t say that results in an original take on the genre, but the straightforwardness makes it easier to appreciate the group’s skills at delivering, and suggests a full album of such material might allow for room to explore and further define what makes them unique as a band, instead of a doom metal art project.