Uncompromising is an adjective often used to describe heavy music. A bit of a lazy journalistic trope. But with Black Tongue there truly is no concession; not to trend, not to populism, not to fad nor fashion. For them there is no secret desire to have broad appeal. They make brutally heavy, sludge laden, down tempo deathcore; filled with unmitigated hatred. And their recent release, the 6 track mini album Born Hanged, is absolutely no different.
From beginning to end, listening to this record is like being crushed by 20 tonnes of shit; encased in lead; dropped from a crane. The malevolence generated by their creeping tempos, makes it feel like this compressing doom is happening in slow motion. A ketamine induced elastic reality; trapping you between the wheels of a grotesquely inevitable destruction. Pain multiplied by time and a need for retribution!
Fuck me it’s enjoyable!!
Alex Teyns voice leads the stomp. From the a-capella opening salvo to the final reverberating “Fuck”; it drips with a vile, vengeful malignancy. His unique growl, full bodied and powerfully delivered; veers from an anguished throaty roar to an ultra deep bilious, guttural, rasp. Occasionally intelligible, the lyrics I’m certain are full of tales of bound up rage, hate and revenge. But when the vocals sound this brutal, their exact subject matter is fundamentally unimportant; the sheer aural intensity allows you to imbue them with your own frustration and bitterness.
The music is both eerie and destructive, like a sludgecore Neurosis, grown beatdown and breakdown savvy. Melodies, down-tuned and jagged, grate across the guitar. Bass and drums, pound, dissolve and recapitulate with knowing, thumping skill. Each song seeming to hit harder than the last, allowing the music to wind its way around your neck with face-pulling ferocity.
There is a true mastery of riff, sound and pacing at work here. Often slow metal can seem ponderous and uninspired. But Born Hanged surges at the listener with a momentum that gives the impression of being generated by more than just the music. Its sonic palette limited but the picture it creates is all the more vivid as a result.
This mastery is evinced by the fact that even starting at some of the slowest tempos you will come across in deathcore, they manage to make their breakdowns sound both essential and savage.
The record is produced with a precise and exacting hand. Explosive sub-drops decimate your mental infantry allowing Black Tongue to run rampant over you. Making it genuinely feel like the soundtrack to a battle yet to be; complete with severed heads and salty tears; the smell of cordite and trenches dug with broken fingernails. This is dark music for the darkest of moods.
This is music that says “Fuck You” to trendiness, no matter how hardcore that trend. It sticks 2 fingers up at the latent need of metal to have a tech influence. It doesn’t hail the skill of the individual. Instead it celebrates the ability of a band to pulverise, smashing us to pieces with our own bleakest thoughts.
This is music that will vibrate the hate out of you. Liquefy your flesh and scour you from within.
Unrelenting, unyielding, inexorable, unswerving, assiduous, uncompromising. Black Tongue.
– John Whitmore