Some music should hurt. Such is the vase with the sludge/doom/crust of Body Void; the trio’s music is of such monstrous density and power that it can almost be physically painful to listen to. And yet, as off-putting as that may make it seem, there is something deeply rewarding and cathartic to be found within their cataclysmic, all-encompassing soundscapes. There is no easy route to finding such succor though, and I Live Inside A Burning House is an album that will challenge you; but the more you put in to the album, the more you get out of it.
An obvious barrier to entry is the sheer length of the songs contained on the album; excluding the introductory track, only ‘Phantom Limb’ is shorter than ten minutes long, with the remaining three songs being between seventeen and twenty two minutes long. Even by the standards as glacially slow doom, these are some long tracks; and yet, the length of the songs is also one of the strong point of the album. It gives the tracks time to unfurl and evolve, and to properly weave their hypnotic magic. Many of the changes will be subtle, but within the context of the songs, they are also incredibly powerful.
Not that I Live Inside A Burning House is some droning, funeral dirge. Instead, this is an album with real teeth, and a vicious streak running red raw throughout. For every moment where Body Void seek to lull the listener in to a trance, there are three where they are practically demanding a physical reaction. This uncomfortable tension is incredibly effective, both at making I Live Inside A Burning House so unwelcoming, but also so compelling. This is not an album that will let you in easily; but once you’re through the door, it’s hard to leave.
That the album achieves this despite being so unforgiving and intense is quite an achievement. For a case in point, witness the sense of release when the weight on your chest shifts during ‘Trauma Creature’ and the band launch into a full-blooded, riotous rampage of sludge riffs and hardcore energy. The feeling of catharsis is so rewarding and undeniable; and yet within moments, the band have shifted into one of the album’s slowest, most cavernous and anxiety-inducing movements. It’s so uncomfortable, so difficult to actually enjoy – and yet it’s even harder to take your attention away from what’s unfolding as the song (and record) progresses.
Of course, I Live Inside A Burning House is not an album to be enjoyed. Its appeal lies not in sitting back and relaxing during its almost 70 minute run-time, or of having it in the background whilst you answer emails or whatever. Instead, it’s an album that is meant to be difficult to listen to, that acts as a mechanism of emotional release for both band and listener, where you suspect that the act of creating these songs fulfills something for the musicians of Body Void as vital and important as eating or sleeping. This is music that needs to exist; especially given its lyrical focus on queer identity, mental illness, and the nature of existence.
All of which makes I Live Inside A Burning House an album that isn’t for everyone; but for those who really grasp it, who can really relate to what it is trying to communicate, it is bound to become an important album. It is too harsh, to relentless to really be enjoyed, but that was never the point. Instead, it’s an album that offers something far more important than simple pleasure, and by the end of final track ‘Given’, you will feel exhausted, crushed, overwhelmed – yet also, hopefully, somehow stronger.
I Live Inside A Burning House is due for release on 11 May 2018. It can be pre-ordered on vinyl and cassette via Crown And Throne Ltd and Dry Cough Records; and on CD via Seeing Red Records. It is also available digitally via Bandcamp.