Release Date: Jan 27, 2015
Record label: Thrill Jockey
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Heavy Metal
Music collapsed into a kind of vapid singularity the day Selena Gomez sang “I love you like a love song.” A song so lazy that it found the singer shunting off all the hard work of songwriting by using an entire genre of music to stand in for her emotions, it marked the tying off of a self-referential loop begun sometime in prehistory. Absurd, yes, but only logical: the fact is that music, especially popular music, has long dealt with simplifying emotions and emotional expression in order to connect with as broad a range of listeners as possible. It is, quite literally, the reason that music is generic, limited in terms of lyrical, thematic and musical content.
It is with complete affection for the pursuit of Gargantua that I profess to adore the combined efforts of The Body (members Chip King and Lee Buford) and Thou (members Bryan Funck, Mitch Wells, Andy Gibbs, Matthew Thudium and Josh Nee) and the EPs that this way less than holy union has brought unto us all, 2014’s Released From Love and 2015’s You, Whom I Have Always Hated, the latter of which will be discussed. I first heard The Body via the band’s 2010 release, All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, which was the closest thing to sonic misery I think I’d heard at the time. With aid from the Assembly of Light choir, a vocal group who provided the album some melodic presence, the duo’s full-length was replete with assault and shriek, a brand of experimental metallic nuance I would almost label Stress Metal, as if Doom simply wouldn’t cut it for definition’s sake.
Portland, Oregon via Providence, Rhode Island doom noise duo the Body grew more and more prone to collaboration as their tenure wore on, inviting both noise artists like the Haxan Cloak and gothic choral group the Assembly of Light Choir to take part in their always shifting, always brutal sonic assaults. A team-up with equally sludgy Baton Rouge doom metal act Thou was a suitable next chapter when the two entities teamed up in 2014 for the collaborative EP Released from Love. The burning, suffocating walls of downtuned guitars and battle-ready drums found an expanded bedding for both Thou vocalist Bryan Funck's slithering demon whispers and the Body vocalist/bassist Chip King's distinctive high-pitched screams.
The Body and Thou must get bored easily. During the last decade, both of these delirious doom metal squads have issued records at startling clips, the pace sometimes so speedy it’s as if they’re desperate to outrun the doomsdays of which they so often yell. Apart from a brief pause two years ago, New Orleans’ Thou have offered a few titles a year, many of them splits or EPs that rerouted their sludge through small new capillaries.
Head here to submit your own review of this album. Two heavyweights of metal have joined forces to usher in 2015 in characteristically brutal style. A thunderous collision of sludge metal and doom, the resulting record is a nightmarish vision of anguish and torment communicated through a cacophony of feedback, cataclysmic percussion and a death rattle of guitar and bass.
Since the release of their inaugural collaboration EP, I’ve been wondering whether the sludge metal modus operandi of Thou would complement or suffocate the depraved compositional demeanor of The Body. Both acts harbor a fascination for the macabre, a sense of respect for their heavy metal heritage, and the ability to thrust their listeners into a blistering self-stylized pit of turmoil. After the deployment of Released From Love, all that remained open was the extent of influential sway one group might have over the other.
Last year was a strong one for metal — extreme and otherwise — but the world keeps turning, bands keep writing, and the rent is still due. We’ve barely gotten past the honeymoon stage with 2015, but the first quarter already features a bevy of new records from trustworthy old-timers and ….
Portland-based sludge duo The Body have long made collaborations with other artists a staple of their experimental remit, with greater and lesser levels of success over their decade-and-a-half existence. They have stepped this up considerably in the past year: Thou are the third different act to share a record with The Body since the beginning of 2014. Unlike I Shall Die Here, their album with Bobby Krlic (Haxan Cloak), who effectively took on producer duties, and their Split LP with Sandworm, which was, unsurprisingly, a split LP, You, Whom I Have Always Hated is, as with last year’s Released from Love EP (originally pressed as a limited-release vinyl, and packaged here for the first time on digital format), being pushed very much as a full-on creative collaboration between two acts who have found themselves perhaps unexpectedly promoted to the status of metal heavyweights in recent times.
"Other people write about the bling and the booty. I write about the pus and the gnats. To me, that's beautiful." – Vic Chesnutt Taking the sentiment behind the above quote from singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt into account, it's easy to see why his powerful track 'Coward' (from his 2009 album At The Cut, released prior to his overdose on Christmas Day of the same year) is a complete fit for collaborators-in-sludge, The Body and Thou, who covered it for their 2014 vinyl-only EP Released From Love.