With the Body - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #218

“I don’t really like most people in the world, or trust them. The guns are less of a thug or violent thing and more of a separation between us and society.” – Lee Buford – Drums and Programming.

The Body ought to have been called something more obvious and accurate, perhaps “I don’t even like music” or “I drink to die”, maybe go outside the norm and be called “The world is not our home”: all monikers used by the band on shirts and various other sources. All would be appropriate as answers when a beaming colleague asks you on a Monday morning “What good music did you hear last week” and you spent the entire bank holiday weekend listening to a sound that is either the audio equivalent of the motor oil, blood and brain matter tramped into a pub carpet following a vicious stomping, or the last gravity-garbled sounds as an experimental spacecraft breaks up as it enters the corona of the sun with the crew screaming onboard.

Looking like the people that come to a sticky end in episode five of True Detective, sorta redneck gun-obsessed troublemaker types, these Portland casuals’ unholy racket I first heard at the release of their stunning EP, Master, We Perish, which is perhaps their most direct work, with driving riffs and vocals reminiscent of Ramesses and a stellar mile away from their latest, a meeting-of-minds with sludge heavyweights Thou pleasingly called You, Whom I Have Always Hated. The EP drew me in not with its sound or dense, virtually impenetrable five-metre fog of distorted sound and downtuned electricity, but with the terrifying album artwork, with a ruined skeletal figure atop what appears to be a mountain of stones, ripped gruesomely through the middle and bent back into a distorted yoga pose from straight out of the Inferno, mouth agape in silent screaming pain. The artwork is so psychotically fractal, so important and yet so obtuse that I challenge you to find something on a record sleeve more instantly evocative or piercingly relevant.

Alone, the Body can be direct, as on Master, We Perish, or they can be crawlingly self-indulgent as on Christs, Redeemers; it’s when they combine forces that the music starts to climb out of the stygian pit and begins to feel the warmth of something more substantial than dank metal. Collaboration has always been at the heart of the group, Both Christs, Redeemers and the excellent All the Waters Of The Earth Shall Turn To Blood were built with the help of choirs, with the opener from their 2013 evocatively seeing the all-female Assembly of Light Choir apparently fed mercilessly to a meat grinder of noise. Their latest efforts alongside Haxan Cloak and sludge juggernauts Thou have yielded some of the Body’s most interesting material yet. Pure collabs are rare in extreme metal circles, even while splits are common, but the Portland group are successful in using collaboration to explore their own sound, with Haxan Cloak, his music giving them endless eddies of stopped time with which to play, and with Thou packing out the sound in a completely claustrophobically overwhelming thud.

New work by the Body is greeted with reverence among the metal community. I get the sense they’re a band like Sunn O))), achieving much more success than their genre would indicate because they tap into something fashionable, but also that they are a band with an uncompromisingly unpleasant sound so not many people actually listen to the records with any frequency. In stripped down, drums-and-guitar growls and in nihilistic-to-the-point-of-solipsism darkness, the Body are as yet unmatched. You can take the beery party of Weedeater or the druidic rumblings of latterday Leckie Wizard; the people pushing sludge music forward, in torrents and leaps out of manhole covers, are the Body.

Written under duress by Steven.

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