I awoke this morning with a powerful craving for fresh vinyl. I knew not why; I knew not for which specific piece of pressed wax I was searching. I knew only that there was The Calling, and that I needed to, once again, comb through my personal back-catalogue of music and film, identify some long-suffering hangers-on with which I could be convinced to part, and run that shit on down to the local Zia Records. STAT. This was a mission from the gods, that much was certain — but WHICH ONES?!
As it would turn out, the answer to that question had been heralded by the semi-apocalyptic swath of late winter/early spring storm weather to blanket the landscape of our scattered and scarred homelands. For our purposes here in SoAz, that storm manifested itself in a weighted, churning torrent of DOOM clouds, oppressive blankets of humidity, and the merciless, cleansing deluge brought down in tears from the heavens. So. Much. GLOOM. The relatively sunny disposition of the morning which greeted me this day would belie the terrible discovery I was soon to make.
Though guided by the hand of Beelzebub himself, no sooner had I dropped of my trade items to be reviewed and processed than I found myself standing before the looming magnificence of Zia Oracle’s “New Vinyl” stand. There she was, the Virgin Mother of our Megalomaniacal Saviour Herself, Mary “Joe’s Girl” Christ, in stunning portraiture. In one of those innumerable moments of chance and destiny, I nearly turned away disinterested to go peruse some dusty, forgotten corner of the used albums section, when a loathsome, sickly feeling in the very cockles of my loins urged me to halt.
I had missed something.
There, in the upper left-hand corner of the LP I had glazed over cursorily, just above the Blessed Mother’s somber profile, an unassuming annular adornment.
Since their accursed formation in 1999, Portland by-way-of Boston experimental DOOM-sludge titans The Body have been steady straight dropping split LPs, collaborations, EPs, and full-lengths at a frighteningly manic pace, with no less than four massively dense albums released since the dawn of 2014 alone. It was late Summer 2014 that I first became aware of the terrifying, savagely introspective, soul-scarring music that heavily-armed duo Chip King and Lee Buford create. I was researching several bands unknown to me in preparation for an upcoming weekend of riffage and torment at Tucson’s own premier extreme metal festival, Southwest Terror Fest. My expectations were appropriately heightened by the information I had gleaned from online articles concerning the corrosive brand of punishment offered by the impossibly weighty pair, and I have no problem admitting that I was physically and psychologically terrified as I pressed play on that first track.
My expectations were NOT disappointed.
The Body’s primary goal as evidenced by the music they create would appear to be complete psychological catharsis and cleansing through anguish. Vocalist/guitarist Chip King does not “sing” or “scream” in any of the traditional metal, or otherwise musical, senses. Instead, he emits desperate, agonizing wails like those of a feral, tortured beast in the final, bloody throes of a savage death. After looping his guitar through an intricately arranged network of sample machines, processors, and vintage Sunn amps, the final product emitted from his monolithic stack of speakers is the biting, burdensome wall of tone and distortion of metal fragmented, deconstructed, pounded unrecognizable, and then reassembled as something wholly new and terrible. Drummer Lee Buford rises to the task of not only matching but accentuating this indescribably dense patchwork of misery and toil by pounding his percussives with the calculated ferocity of an ironworker forging weaponry from the very molten core of existence. Every seismic beat serves to propel the already catastrophic purge of metallic fury into utter oblivion.
I am, admittedly and unfortunately, quite a bit less versed in the history and lore of Southern-Fried, NOLA-bred warlords of DOOM, Thou. This is an oversight that will most assuredly be remedied post-haste. However, hailing from the birthplace of such legendary names in the world of miserable, loathsome, down-tuned riff-laden DOOM-sludge as EYEHATEGOD, Crowbar, Soilent Green, and Goatwhore, the scornful bastards that make up this modern-day harbinger of destruction have clearly paid attention in class, and have most assuredly benefited from rolling up and smoking their homework. Similar to their comrades in Hatred, Thou is likewise prone to a dizzying pace of sonic proliferation, having put out an impressive assortment of DOOM-product since their 2005 inception to rival that of The Body.
The Body and Thou first came together in collaboration early last year on the deceptively titled Released from Love EP. This four track work was discreetly birthed into the world as a vinyl-only limited edition album, and is now being included with the digital and compact disc releases of You, Who I Have Always Hated for the first time in those formats. While not a necessary requirement for anyone approaching these two bands with fresh ears, Released does serve as an outstanding introductory work or companion piece to this new full-length. The remaining six hereto unreleased tracks that make up Hated stand fine enough on their own, but the immensely cathartic if exhausting experience will certainly leave any proper extreme metal aficionado parched for more, and Released will do well as a small but welcome offering to that void.
As for Hated itself. There is NONE heavier. Nearly as soon as my turntable stylus touched down between the freshly-pressed grooves of side one, I was overcome with the crushing, monolithic wall of leaden sound that is “Her Strongholds Unvanquishable.” FUCK SAKES. My chest hurts, and I can’t BREATHE… While the four tracks on Released certainly provided worthy evidence of the terrible power at hand through the unity of these two savage forces, it is clear that their horrifying tools of battery were honed to maximum barbaric supremacy for this record.
From the very beginning, it is evident that the collaborative energy conjured by the unity of these two forces of subjugation serves to push both entities together into wholly new, more extreme, and ultimately more savage and unrestrained territory. The demon hordes called forth by Thou, in their sluggish, plodding might, at first may seem to overpower and bury the more atmospheric, expansive framework for which The Body is known. To assume this would be a mistake. More attuned ears will have no trouble hearing The Body’s maelstrom of nihilistic desperation weaving serpentine throughout the massively thunderous plodding surge set forth by Thou.
Throughout most of the album’s six gargantuan tracks, it is clear that the whole is by far greater than the sum of its parts. Even an initially stumbling foray into “covers” territory results in a transformative, revitalized section of creativity that does well to turn the original — NIN set-list mainstay “Terrible Lie” — into a new and largely unrecognizable permutation. While the re-imagining does not quite hit with the same sparse weight of “Coward” (the final track on Released) — itself a complex, forlorn retelling of an emotional bit of songwriting by the late Vic Chestnutt — it nevertheless gives the record a welcome draw-spring for the industrial metal undercurrent that The Body bring to their creations, smoothing the stitches between the two entities welded in hatred on Hatred.
Elsewhere, the two bands make effective use of dissonance and forced coalescence to accentuate their brand of torment on the thunderously severe “He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity,” and make up for the perhaps intentionally pretentious title of “Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity” by imbuing that track with the ruinous, cataclysmic rage of a vengeful scourge unloosed. By the time we reach the apocalyptic final refrain of “Lurking Fear,” we are so thoroughly pummeled, worn and threadbare, that whatever lurking beast to come next can only be greeted with welcoming arms — if only they had not already been torn from our torso and used to mercilessly beat us into submission.
© Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ryan Scott Sanders and Dharma and Belligerence: Mad Rants from a Free-Range Buddhist Hooligan with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.