A Token of My Extreme: The Body- All The Waters of The Earth Shall Turn to Blood (2010)
At A Loss; 2010
Despite its obvious pedigree of inaccessibility, doom metal and drone has sadly not been featured in this column as of yet. Today I plan to change this, and with a truly engaging and strange album at that.
The Body are in loose terms a two-piece band made up of militant Arkansas expats Chip King (guitar/vocals) and Lee Buford (drums) living in Providence, RI--however in practice, The Body encompasses a huge group of collaborators (including a 13-member choir on this, the band's second album). Within the conventional doom assault lies creatively fucked-up sample work, viola, drum machines, and strains of pure noise. The Body's attack reminds me of Today Is The Day circa-Sadness Will Prevail, if Steve Austin had been listening to Neurosis and Khanate instead of Slayer and Converge.
Pretty fucking awesome, in other words.
While the lyrics are supposedly inspired by such fine upstanding individuals as Jim Jones and Charles Manson and are routinely blood-soaked, nihilistic invocations of apocalypse, King's strained screaming renders them all a psychotic, unintelligible stream of consciousness. Frankly this doesn't hurt the impact of the record one bit--the dismal, brutally atonal and bleak music could produce fevered dream visions of Doomsday all on its own. Before you listen to it, I'd advise cranking the volume up, as this is a conspicuously DIY affair with very raw, lo-fi production values, to the point where I thought there was something wrong with my computer on first listen. I can't decide whether it's annoying or if it adds to the effect.
The angelic yet ominous tones of the choir are the first thing you hear on the album, track one "A Body" taking its time and deliberately layering in the female voices for a hypnotic effect. After five minutes of this and contemplating whether you bought the wrong CD, King and Buford bring the pain with some truly grim noise as the choir continues to accompany them--think seraphs falling headfirst from the sky, wings blazing with a trail of smoke. Following that is the most accessible track, "A Curse," with an honest-to-goodness, hard charging 4/4 pulse and its jagged guitar line gradually dissolving into more ugly sludge over four minutes. Just when you think you can nail down this band's MO, they throw "Empty Hearth" and its heavily manipulated snake handler chants at you for a truly unnerving effect.
The album continues in this fashion, the violent churn and repetitive riffing punctuated by bizarre left turns, all the way up to the epic closer "Lathspell I Name You" which is the entire kitchen sink--a hypnotic thirteen minutes of blood-letting guitar, King shrieking his throat out, droning viola, a lone female vocalist sounding somewhere between agony and ecstasy, noise washes, a sample-heavy eerie industrial interlude and Buford pounding his kit with tree trunks in various tempos. And with a single droning, despairing note, the fifty minute album comes to an end, leaving you to check out your window and see if the world is still there.
If you like any of the bands mentioned above, All The Waters... is a pretty natural progression and a must-have. Pitchfork is seldom right about anything. This is one of those times.