One of my favorite things about dark ambient, the best thing really, is that there is no real formula in regards to what the hell it sounds like, there are no expectations, one album to the next are completely different. There are no rules as to what it has to sound like, it can be anything. Gnawed is a perfect example of that unpredictability and their latest album “Pestilence Beholden” is a triumph of that strange, uncomfortable space. It’s an album that deserves the attention of the listener. I’ve listened to many dark ambient albums that are just that, ambiance. They can sit in the back of the mind, providing a subtle soundtrack for the moment. Not so with Pestilence Beholden. There are subtle things about the album and there are bold things, and subtle things hidden in the midst of the bold things that will undoubtedly go missed by the unsuspecting listener if they are not giving their attention to their music. And really why wouldn’t you want to pay attention to this music? It’s a scathing look into the world around us, the decay and the rot and the hell that we live in and yet we go about it unawares. The album was recorded largely in the sewers and rundown places of Minneapolis, one of the birthplaces of rust. Another thing I enjoy so fully about dark ambient is the way it can be a mirror to the world we live in or the world we are creating. Pestilence Beholden shines a harsh, unrepentant light on the world we live in now and the ways in which we are hastening its decay and death. With almost religious overtones, the album slowly takes us down, into the muck and the filth and the rot, it opens our eyes forcefully to show us the part of the world that we really wish didn’t exist, the world we try to forget every time we look out the window. With the combination of music and sound recording, Gnawed uses traumatic, uncomfortable, nerve wracking music from a wide array of instruments, not just the typical guitar, drums, bass combination that gets overused these days. Trumpets, strings, and found objects create a sound that is utter unlike anything I’ve listened to before. Pestilence Beholden is a marvel, something that, again, the listener needs to listen to over and over and with great interest. Pestilence Beholden is an album full of odd turns, unsettling twists, and subtle layers. It’s an album any fan of dark ambient or black metal needs to hear, it’s an album that really speaks them, the people that can see the things underneath the surface, those that don’t shy away from the ugly. Listen to this album.
Listen and support!