Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Youtube Stream: Link
The Body are the kind of band that you wish you didn’t need in your life. The two-piece create music of such utter desolation that it can’t help but play on you, to take you away from wherever you are when listening to it and to a place that, hopefully, doesn’t exist. Their music conjures up a world full of death and regret, where life is pain and the end of it is no better. Everything has ended, yet still, somehow, days go by in an existence filled with torment and pain – the end of days has come and gone. You didn’t ascend to heaven, yet nor were you taken down to hell. You were just forgotten, left alone to wander the ruins of the earth.
Yet there is also something primitive at play here, bringing to mind not just scenes of apocalypse, but also of beginnings (think of the apes in 2001: A Space Odyssey beating each other to death and you’re pretty much there). Just look at the song titles: “An Altar Or A Grave”; “Failure To Desire To Communicate”; “Denial Of The Species”. It’s every bit as heavy as those titles suggest, both musically and emotionally. You don’t listen to music like this when things are going right.
As for the music, the closest that comes to a genre tag would be doom or sludge metal, yet that only gives half the story. This is doom metal as in the true sense of the word doom – ominous, foreboding, and dangerous. The band consists of drummer Lee Buford and vocalist/guitarist Chip King, who take the core components of sludge and pummel it into something ugly and devastated. There is intelligent use of space and tension, especially in the drumming, whilst the guitars are tuned to frequencies so low that they cannot be healthy in the slightest, with the riffs played at a speed that allows every vibration to be felt. King’s shrieked vocals are buried beneath the weight of the music, coming across as half-heard cries of warning or threats. I can think of nothing else quite like them. The production is pretty lo-fi in general, and suits the music well, adding a layer of dirt and dust to proceedings.
Combined with this core are the Assembly Of Light Choir, who add an other-worldly aura to the record, their beautiful, haunting vocals hinting at divinity denied; as well as additional noise work by Work/Death, and Rayn Seaton of Callers also contributes. These additional elements are every bit as important to the sound of The Body as their extreme metal core is, and integrate well with their sound and aesthetic. Tracks such as Shrouded would not be as effective without the subtle hisses and traces of noises bleeding through, whilst Night Of Blood In A World Without End centres the album, doing away almost entirely with metal elements and instead focusing on female vocals, noise, and strings. It prevents the album from collapsing under its own weight, and helps keep it listenable – or at least, as listenable as music this extreme can be.
I’ve spent most of the afternoon and evening listening to this album on repeat, and I’m feeling it. This is music that sucks the life and light out of things, leaving the listener hopeless and defeated, yet there is still something appealing about it. It’s not as soul-crushing as some of their previous works, which is a good thing in some ways – as much as I appreciated the aesthetic and atmosphere of All The Waters Of The Earth Shall Turn To Blood, I can’t remember listening to it in a single sitting, such was the weight of despair it carried. In an artistic and musical sense, I recommend this release for any fans of truly heavy, challenging music (don’t let the genre fool you, this will appeal more to fans of Swans than of Black Sabbath); just don’t expect to actually enjoy it, or the rest of your day.