Review: Heretic Grail & Reaper – Gaping Revenge (Modern Decadence, Sep 23)

If you’re someone who’s been into noise for a long time, it’s easy to grow tired of the typical “noise aesthetic”: aggressive, black-and-white collage imagery, themes of violence and deviance, an emphasis on abrasive or nihilistic worldviews. It’s an often eyeroll-worthy trend that perpetuates patriarchal, machismic stereotypes about noise culture (which, unfortunately, frequently ring true). Occasionally though, a release is brutal enough that I’m able to forgive some elements of the above themes, as long as they’re used with reticence, and Gaping Revenge is one such case. The grayscale patchwork of images on the cover all depict horrible things about to happen: a hand holding a knife poised to strike, a general ordering a bombing run, prisoners lined up for impending execution, surgeons preparing for a grotesque operation. These photographs create a dialogue with the unrelenting, deafening music the tape contains; the noise itself is the bloody conclusion to all of those murderous scenarios, its jagged chunks of distortion, pedal feedback, and rumbling drones induce an abrasive catharsis, which thankfully isn’t tainted by cringeworthy track titles or unnecessarily disturbing, offensive artwork.