Wednesday, May 11, 2016

THE BODY & FULL OF HELL - One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache REVIEW


The inherent challenge and irony of playing extreme forms of music is that there will always be artists and musicians that will "out-do" or "surpass" you in terms of extremity. And because music is such a subjective form of art - if not the most subjective - this useless battle can become even more tiresome. However, this idea of "extremity = quality" has become outdated. Bands and artists are no longer held hostage to the depressions of postmodernism in the grandest sense. Instead, these individuals have evolved beyond this mindset and are aggressively taking their sonic and artistic visions back from cynicism, and into complete personal fulfillment and sincerity. I would emphasize the keyword here is "Sincerity". 

I focus on these abstract ideas for one very clear reason: This collaborative album between The Body and Full of Hell feels so sincere and inspired, that it completely overpowers and dismantles not only their contemporaries, but also each bands' respective back catalogs. What each band has done here is transform their identities without necessarily transforming their sound; they have merely evolved and progressed it to near-perfection. Full of Hell have shown how strong they are in a collaborative setting in their recent effort with Japanese noise legend Merzbow (The Body has done this as well, but focusing on Full of Hell's past history here is very important I feel), but here with The Body, both bands have exceeded expectations and cemented a pivotal release in the scope of modern extreme music. 

I think something that makes this album stronger than the Full of Hell/Merzbow collaboration - which should be noted is still a great album - is cohesion. On that past album, many fans (primarily Merzbow fans) were disappointed at how little of input Masami Akita seemed to have in the overall projects. And since there was such a geographically roadblock between the two bands, most meshing of ideas and artistic communication had to be done digitally, which isn't a bad thing in it of itself. However, on that album, it really seemed to work against the overall project. 

Now we come to this record between Full of Hell and The Body. Both bands work in similar styles of sludge, grind, and harsh noise/power electronics, but arrive at almost polar opposites ends of the spectrum at times. That key concept is what makes this album so strong. With The Body's challenging, atonal, and nightmare-inducing albums such as Even The Saints Knew Their Hour of Failure and Loss and No One Deserves Happiness showcasing the group's unique take on experimental sludge metal coupled with electronic music and sampling, they insert these key qualities perfectly with Full of Hell's disgustingly ugly wall of dissonant grindcore and powerviolence. 

The opening title track here assaults the listener immediately. After a few seconds of an unsettling drum machine pattern, a wall of blast beats and screams explode without warning. This track crawls and crawls on, with scattered drumming always finding a way to match up with the metronome-like drum machine loop. Samples are introduced on the second track "Fleshworks" under a driving drum rhythm. Soon afterwards, the entire track takes a dark electronica vibe, sounding like it wouldn't sound out of place on a record by The Knife. 

"Fleshworks" dissolves into a distorted wall of sludge that becomes the third track, an unrecognizable cover of Leonard Cohen's "The Butcher". When I first Spencer Hazard's podcast with Anthony Fantano of TheNeedleDrop fame discussing this track, I was immediately interested and curious. And while the novelty of this track is definitely endearing, it's probably my least favorite track on this album. However, I do applaud the bands for pursuing whatever they wanted on this release. The fact that there's a Leonard Cohen "cover" on a collaboration album between two grindcore/sludge metal bands is fantastic in it of itself. 

"Gehorwilt", "World of Hope and No Pain", and "Himmel and Holle" continue on with the disgusting drum sounds and banshee vocals of The Body frontman Chip King, introducing more unsettling samples and intensely unnerving atmospheres. "Himmel and Holle" is definitely a highlight here of what fans were probably hoping the collaboration with Merzbow would've sounded like. 

"Bottled Urn" however is probably one of my favorite tracks here. It shows such a strong early-Swans influence that isn't surprising since guitarist Spencer Hazard has sighted Swans as an influence on Full of Hell. "The Little Death" is also a favorite here. The track plays as some sort of demented rock and roll tune, with verses consisting of isolated snare fills and - for lack of a better word - "catchy" vocals. The track eventually breaks down and fall apart into a slow death march of guitars and drums. 

The death industrial and electronica-inspired "Cain" shows Chip King's vocals really take over and shine over a throbbing beat. Electronics squelch and pierce through the mix, making the track probably the most-hypnotizing on the entire album. Some ominous synths and choirs are introduced towards the end of the track, adding some trademark melodics from The Body's sound. 

The closer "Abel" is flawless. A minimalist drum pattern repeats and repeats over gentle electronic scratches and squeaks, until the track explodes into a wall of depressive beauty. Static fills out the mix, while lo-fi drums and guitar drones fill up the space left over. The music slowly fades out as an ominous final sample dealing with the supernatural(?) plays out. 

This album is a masterpiece. Both bands have risen above genre expectations and limitations and have shown their contemporaries that they're in it for the long haul. One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache is easily the strongest work from each band, and will probably stand as one of the greatest albums of 2016. I can't recommend this album enough. 

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