I can’t say that I really saw it coming, but I guess I’m on something of a harsh noise kick lately. Not that things have been going particularly poorly or my mental state is deteriorating (well, any more that it usually does), but I guess I’ve just been in the mood to expand my horizons. I’m starting to get a feel for nuances of the genre, how it carries emotion and tension that is much more complicated than just “loud.” But then, there’s Lung Knots, and their newest release Golden Dirges, Molten Larynges, that just want to annihilate your eardrums sonically. That works too, I guess.
Originally released in February, Tartarus Records is overseeing the vinyl issue of Golden Dirges, in all its sonic glory. Lung Knots is a mysterious entity that, according to the press bio, “is a vessel of auditory violence”, an “overwhelming form of aural terror” and “can be summed up as the channeling of hate and disgust towards man and its progeny, and the very construct of humanity in its current, turbulent state.” In short, Golden Dirges is an album you have to fight with to get a good experience out of, because it does not like you and it wants to see you in pain. There is, however, something deeply meditative about the experience, and if pain is your reward, then there is plenty of it in spades. The outfit seeks to blend all forms of terror and spite, from the electronic and technological, to the organic and mundane, weaving eerie synths, electronic static and effects galore with raw, primal screams and spare instrumentation that blends tidbits of black metal, industrial and everything in between on the spectrum of abrasive soundscapes. The process of crafting these cruel and harsh sonic landscapes in an interesting on for Lung Knots: backgrounds are composed and recorded, but vocals and lyrics (such that they are) are delivered impromptu and on the spot, allowing them to carry the maximum amount of emotion and agony. The end result is exactly what you’d expect it would be: it is stark, it is chilling, it makes me a little nauseous and my head hurts.
To my ear, Lung Knots share the most amount of musical DNA with Gnaw Their Tongues, similarly infamous for the unsettling, merciless terror they breed in the atmospheres they generate. Lung Knots achieve this end by building on a thick layer of slow, plodding, pounding almost industrial percussion before drenching everything in a layer of static and noise. Take opener “Void Hymnal,” for example. The harsh noise is so thick that it makes everything seem blurry around the edges, and when the harsh vocals kick in, it is nearly impossible to discern any lyrics, but you are smacked in the head with a feeling of rage and suffering. Almost all tracks on Golden Dirges follow the same formula, and in the end everything sort of blurs together in a wash of feedback and interference, but there are spots where single instruments and components shine. Delicate synths ring out uneasy melodies and harmonies in spots where the intensity is dialed down slightly, and there are even choral arrangements, as on “A Thicket of Abrasions and Open Wounds.” While most of the vocals are shrieked and wretched, there are spots where whispers and drones break the mood with a different type of tension and terror, giving shades of color to a background that is mostly black-and-white TV static. I don’t want it to sound like I’m ragging on Lung Knots, though. On the contrary, I admire what they’ve done on Golden Dirges: they have a formula for crafting the exact sound and mindscape they are aiming for, and they achieve it with a singular precision. It’s just not going to be for everybody.
Golden Dirges, Molten Larynges is a wonderful cacophony of intense emotion and tension with no real release ever coming. From a musical standpoint, there is a ton going on, and repeated listens have the potential for unlocking more pieces to the puzzle, especially in a high-quality format like, oh, I don’t know, vinyl. Go pick up your copy today and let the sonic assault properly begin.
Golden Dirges, Molten Larynges is available now, digitally and on CD and tape through Trepanation Recordings and Total Dissonance Worship, and on vinyl through Tartarus Records. For more information on Lung Knots, visit their Facebook page.