The album is called No One Deserves Happiness and the band The Body, how do you think it’s going to sound? Predictably, and thankfully, this double vinyl LP and CD on Thrill Jockey is mean, abrasive and inventive experimental metal. There’s plenty of detuned guitars, but the duo also incorporate elements borrowed from hip-hop and electronic music.
9/10 Robin Staff review, 17 March 2016
You know them. If you like “metal” -- and square quotes are necessary for this band of genre scoffers -- then the Body have probably collaborated with a band you like. They did it with doom stoics Thou; they’ve fucked with grindcore high-brows Full of Hell; they’ve had a meeting of the minds with Krieg; the last time I listened, they were splitting with black metallers Sandworm, who took ten songs in the time the Body did one. They will probably do it again and if I had to place a bet it’d be their next record will be with Grimes. I think it’s a good bet; I did also bet my housemate £10 that Scott Walker’s next album will be called ‘Anime’, but I like my chances.
This is to say nothing of the trajectory The Body have been taking on their own, which includes a lot of abstract doom, often under the guise of folks like the Haxan Cloak. The band claim that their new solo record ‘No One Deserves Happiness’ eschews metal tradition, something they both understand and distrust, in favour of their love of pop music (as the pull quotes on your favie click bait news articles go, this record owes a lot to Beyoncé). First track “Wanderings” is proof enough of their sonic indecisiveness, and a good example of how they strike gold with it: it sounds entrenched in a doom metal march but doesn’t quite commit to it, leading instead into “Shelter Is Illusory”, which matches forbidden low end guitars with what sound like programmed drums and swirling synths -- plus Maralie Armstrong’s vocals, which are at times leading and narrative, and at others sound like they’re buffering landscape. On tracks like this and “Two Snakes”, the Body swap in skittering electronics as if to digitalise metal, much in the vein of Have a Nice Life’s ‘Deathconsciousness’.
“For You” borrows from a well of noise that, to be fair, has already been in development via Wold and Paysage d’Hiver: black metal as formlessness, as Merzbow, though the Body curve it back to their rock inclinations with a drumbeat that sounds very much part of the studio. At times, it’s obvious how much the Body retain extreme metal and many of its transgressive sonic ideas; “Hallow / Hollow” is doused in feedback and coats gutless screams in oscillating riffs (not riffage, thx). It may not be new ground, then, but it’s not new ground I appreciate the Body for developing. It’s new atmosphere, and this record is a pantomime of feelings.
This is a weird fucking record, I’ll allow them that: the choral elements of “Two Snakes” will forge new corners of my nightmares, while the floor-throbbing beat of “Adamah” matches super strangely with Hecker-scoured ambience and a supreme vocal performance. Sometimes, when they get like this, I wonder if the Body have been influenced by anything at all, but then I remember it’s actually everything. Whatever you make of it, this is a monolithic record. "The Myth Arc" kicks in and my ears are a long way from home.
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- No One Deserves Happiness by The Body
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