Album Review: Clawing – Labour (Grey Matter Productions)

Clawing are a drone/noise/dark ambient metal band from Alabama, USA. They released their debut album, Spectral Estate on February 10th 2018 and you can read our review of that excellent album here.

Eight months later and they’re back with this one track release! Labour is out on Halloween via Grey Matter Productions.

Here’s a few words about the new album from Matt, the vocalist behind Clawing:

“I never thought addiction would land at my doorstep. I’ve known a lot of junkies and I’ve had friends die of overdoses but it’s never actually been in my family. 2 years ago my mother’s husband of 10 years decided he was going to do meth. It came out of the blue and his reasons were ridiculous. The two that he recited most often were that he needed to lose weight for his job and that it made him feel young. He came from a good home or at least that’s what he always said. He loved to throw that in everyone’s face. It puzzled me how he could turn out the way he did. He was a pothead in high school and he drank until his 40s. He had a heart attack around that time and he decided to straighten up and fly right.

It didn’t last long and he was hitting the bottle again. Nothing seemed to be enough and then he ended up here. Meth is a problem plaguing the South it seems. The area I live in is ravaged by it. I can’t watch the local news without hearing about meth trafficking or meth lab explosions or go into a gas station and see those same hollowed eyes and skin that looks like it’s wrapped too tight around their bones. I wanted to write a piece about what’s going on where I live and about a man who is so lost in drugs that digging a fucking hole is the only thing that brings him any joy. Just getting further and further into the dirt… It was a nightmare to write and watch my mother live but she pulled through.

I’m especially proud of this record because it’s the first time I’ve worked with more than 2 musicians at a given time on anything. Clawing is a full band here. We expanded beyond just Austin Gaines and Jeff McLeod and myself. Joining us on this record is Tyson Platt and J. James and K. Miller who turned this into something brilliant. They’re all incredible musicians and I’m lucky to have worked with them on this. I hope they’ll be joining us for other records down the road. We were extremely fortunate to have my dear friend Stephen Wilson (Unknown Relic) do the art for this. He provided the house illustration for our first album, Spectral Estate, and I think it goes without saying that he’s the best there is. He’s a genius illustrator and photographer and so much of our sound involves his work. I hope he’ll tag along with us for the rest of the ride as well. Thanks for listening.”

Labour 1

Just short of 30 minutes, if you’re familiar with Clawing’s style of dark ambient noise then Labour won’t be much a a surprise. If you’re not…well, you’re in for a treat.

“Will you put me out to pasture?”

With that opening line, this uncomfortable track gets started. Reverberating sounds play, building in volume as it goes on. Soft melody steps in which heightens a feeling of isolation and desolation. Echoing through the skull, the introduction of more and more elements help build a broader picture of just what you’re hearing here.

It’s no simple task to pin it down. Like a slippery serpent it escapes your grasp over and over again every time you reach to grab it.

“You don’t recognise yourself in the mirror”

There is an argument for this not being one complete track as spoken word dialogue divides it up somewhat. However, I think it works better as a complete track. Like we’re listening to one journey, a journey into places filled with cold darkness.

Transformations occur as we go deeper down the rabbit hole with Clawing. The uncomfortable feeling dissipates and we’re left with feeling disillusioned and alone. It’s not unwelcome though. It’s almost exciting.

“They’re fading out of view”

At around the 15 and a half minute mark, things get even darker and the feeling of hopelessness begins to grow inside. Then the noise starts. We’re not talking morose ambience or sweet melodies, no. We are talking the sound of horror. It’s brief but such a shock to the mind that should already be feeling a little wired.

Labour is incredible but not in the conventional way. You’re not going to be grabbing a pal, chucking them a headphone and saying ‘listen to this’. It’s not digestible in that regard. No, why it is incredible is because how it challenges. How it forces you to think and really listen. How it demands every second of your attention for almost 30 minutes. It’s not for everybody but it’s so damn impressive.

Clawing – Labour Full Track Listing:

1. Labour

You can order the album via Grey Matter Productions here and the earlier release, Spectral Estate here. Find out more and keep up to date with news by liking Clawing’s Facebook Page.

Clawing - Labour (Grey Matter Productions)
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