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The Body – No One Deserves Happiness / The Body and Full Of Hell – One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

No One Deserves Happiness
Thrill Jockey

The Body - No One Deserves HappinessHere’s a concept to consider: The Body have dubbed their latest misanthropic missive No One Deserves Happiness as “the grossest pop album of all time”, and they may just be right. Roping in Chrissy Wolpert and Maralie Armstrong from the Assembly of Light Choir to provide a more melodic vocal counterpoint to Chip King‘s enthusiastically atavistic yelping, the duo also utilise a range of drum machinery to underpin their visceral grind of guitar, bass and even cello and trombone with a relentless churn of rhythm and distended groove.

The results swerve, sometimes violently, from the unearthly weightlessness of the guest vocals to the steady beats and crash cymbal interjections of the far darker territory more familiar from King and Lee Buford‘s previous output; and crucially, into the spaces in between where the vocal lightness and brittle heaviosity combine and complement one another. The disorienting mood swings from almost the laid-back and (relatively) ethereal into the blastbeats and aggression of tracks like “For You”, giving voice to the various states of being that love and loss can engender. These expressions of adoration its consequent departure are excoriatingly inflamed in the grit and grind of bodily lusts, the streaming lava-flow of unrequited agonies or floating on desolately wracked clouds of echo and reverb.

King’s shrieks and tormented utterances are full of the sort of sounds perhaps more often associated with heartburn than a burning heart’s desire and may also be unlikely to set the romantic tone beyond a select circle of BDSM enthusiasts. Given the intersection of that crowd with the harsher end of industrial and electronic music, then No One Deserves Happiness will doubtless find its hardcore miserablist niche come Valentine’s Day for some. A piece like “The Fall and the Guilt”, its melancholy piano almost elegantly draped in drone and rumble beneath fragments of Wolpert and Armstrong’s voices likewise brings to mind the attenuated Gothic tape processing of His Name Is Alive‘s haunted and haunting début LP Livonia, though taken further out and yet more bleak in the process.

The Body and their guests are also liable to step boldly into an electronic swing and shake that lurches popwards just enough to ponder how music such as this could probably stand alongside the likes of The Knife‘s recent excursions into the extremities of what popular music can sustain, given an open enough mind. The brutal surge of “Two Snakes” is a case in point, the meaty bassline — heavily influenced by a Beyoncé track, apparently — heaving and grinding beneath the sort of yowling misanthropic moans that populate Gnaw Their Tongues‘ nightmarish soundtracks for the damned and for those who profess a love of death and destruction more than life. If there’s a touch of JK Flesh or The Bug in there too, that’s all to the good — and since there’s a collaborative album in the works with the latter, perhaps not so surprising either.

Throughout, Wolpert and Armstrong’s contribution spreads the music into emotional ranges that King’s throat-tearing agonised howl can’t express in quite the same way, their occasionally almost Mellotron-like flow searing with the intensity of a choir of processed dark angels vocalising into the aether. The Body’s electronic bass kick is also mighty to behold, shuddering the walls and floors on “Adamah” as a low end rumble slithers beneath shivering guitars. There’s more than a whiff of Jarboe-era Swans to Armstrong’s occasionally heavily-processed vocal presence here, both on the more conventionally doomy “Starving Deserter” or in uttering the words of artist, photographer, writer (and noted suicide) Édouard Levé, spoken over martial drumming into to the rise and fall of the almost anthemically grinding “Prescience”.

If there’s already a substantial body of symphonic black metal out there and no-longer grindcore bands such as Bring Me The Horizon are breaking into a mainstream where Nine Inch Nails trod before, there’s got to be a place for some upliftingly bleak powernoisepop too.

One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache

The Body and Full Of Hell - One Day You Will Ache Like I AcheFull Of Hell are The Body’s latest in a series of collaborators on the mordantly-titled One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache, and from the get-go it’s apparent that their combined musical forces are taking no prisoners and intend offering not too much mercy en route. Full Of Hell are no strangers to working with other artists either, perhaps most prominently with arch-noisemonger Merzbow on their joint self-titled album and its storming companion EP Sister Fawn in 2014.

Recorded in Providence, Rhode Island during time spent touring together in 2015, it’s only appropriate that the studio they chose should be located in HP Lovecraft‘s home town. Not only the title track and song with names such as “World of Hope and No Pain” or “Fleshworks” reek of a not-dissimilar unheimlich, uncaring nihilism to that populated by the elder gods, but the unsettling snippets of what are presumably real-world distraught voices declaring that they want to die or speaking weepingly of their self-betrayal add to a mood that is only enhanced by the little moments of identifiably human clarity they bring.

A peak moment of brutal nastiness and some seriously overwhelming bass comes in the shape of an unrecognisably malevolent cover of Leonard Cohen‘s “The Butcher”. Quite how the two bands got such an immense sound, monstrous and all-consuming as it is, to rip out of their speakers without rupturing them (or for that matter the listener’s; be careful with this one at high volumes, and maybe move the breakables to a place of safety…) is a profound testament to their conjoined musical power. Chip King’s rendering of the lyrics is pretty much as appropriate to the title as can be, shredding his vocal cords and doubtless boosting sympathetic throat medication sales tenfold in the process.

Where No One Deserves Happiness dips its toe occasionally — even almost tenderly — into less troubled waters, so One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache sets out firmly on a mission to batter and pulverise all in its path, unleashing turmoil in ear-punishingly brittle percussion and regurgitated words spun into digital echo limbo. There’s some seriously imposing sub-bass tremors on here too, which must do a terrific job of moving bowels live; as there are said to be no atheists in the trenches, perhaps there is no constipation at a Body and Full of Hell gig? And if the earth often feels like it’s trembling, then so to does the very air, King erupting into a coruscating void of elemental extremity on “Himmer und Holle” as if shouting implacably into the eye of a hurricane for what is in actuality nearly six minutes, but feels like bearing witness to his unending agony.

Nothing quite sums up that howling gale of gnarled — and indeed gnarly — gut-wrenching misery than the final track, “The Little Death”. Reaching a peak of inchoate atavistic rage, the track sets about tearing familiar, comfortable reality a new one and stuffing the discarded shreds of the listeners’ internal organs back into the cavity the two bands have jointly gutted with an almost gleeful abandon. As concluding statements go, it’s enormously powerful, juddering to a terminal post-orgasmic fade that closes the album with all the entropic anguish and heavyweight schadenfreude the two bands have spent turning just over half an hour of sound into what feels like nothing so much as an eternity of sulphurous extremes.

-Antron S Meister-

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