One of the most enjoyable things about extreme music is the feeling of digging through the layers of discordant sound to find the beauty beneath. What to the laymen can often seem like incomprehensible noise usually has a sophisticated depth to it which takes time to uncover. Over the last 20 years The Body have been dedicated to making just that kind of music, multi-faceted and caustic, yet beautiful and emotive at the same time.
Hailing from Rhode Island, Providence the duo, made up of Lee Buford and Chip King, often get lumped in with sludge metal, despite their music having more in common with noise rock like Swans or industrial and drone acts. Over the course of seven albums, numerous EPs and collaborations with the likes of Full of Hell and Thou, the band have incorporated everything from grunge, post-punk and electro pop into their sound. In an underground music scene that can at times seem stuck in its ways, The Body represent constant forward motion.
The band’s eighth studio album, I’ve Seen All There Is To See, finds the band stepping away slightly from the electronic and synth instrumentation of their last few releases (including the sublime Everything That Dies One Day Comes Back, a collaboration with industrial punks Uniform) to focus more on the band’s core, minimalist sound. Aside from possibly SUNN O))), no band does as much with the nuances and different tones of distortion as The Body, building songs in the studio with layers of drums, guitar and King’s nerve-rattling shriek.
Right from the opening track, ‘A Lament’, you get a clear sense of what the band are trying to capture on this album. A sample of eerie, blank verse gives way to a mesmeric grind that slowly builds to a roaring crescendo with a subtle, electronic melody underscoring it. This is bleak, cathartic music that evokes the dark ambient music of acts like Lustmord as much as it does anything in metal. Tracks like ‘Eschatological Imperative’ and ‘The City Is Shelled’ come across like Black Sabbath being deconstructed, put back together backwards and then remixed by Ministry, while ‘A Pain Of Knowing’ ventures into more abstract territory, sounding like the soundtrack to an imaginary David Lynch movie. The shorter burst of ‘Tied Up And Locked In’ has an intensity that rivals Converge at their most extreme, while the album closer, the morbidly titled ‘Path Of Failure’, starts as a desolate, slow descent into nightmare before switching it up with cascading drums that feel like they’re constantly on the verge of collapse, yet are somehow totally in sync.
I’ve Seen All There Is To See is The Body yet again using their impressive sonic muscle in distinctive new ways, never looking back and never settling for anything other than their own creative vision. There’s beauty in this maelstrom, it just takes some time to feel it.
I’ve Seen all There is to See is out now via Thrill Jockey Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Dan Cadwallader