There are few bands that can still instill fear and unease with their music by creating an air of discomfort tinged with agony exuding from the creators’ souls. Portland’s The Body are one such band that do so, and they do it with an unnerving pride.
Despite being a mere two piece of guitars/vocals and drums, the sludge-ridden and noise rock-imbued cacophony that they create is unholy and unforgiving, and a sound that an army of lesser bands couldn’t even hope to accomplish.
Following the EP release Master, We Perish from earlier this year, the band’s new full-length Christ, Redeemers is a ferocious coalescing all of the band’s traits into their finest, and scariest, work yet. It’s an album that will leave dent marks in the listeners’ psyche for some time, but for all its wretched horror and bleak atmosphere, Christ, Redeemers is also an adventurous and ambitious record that’s grand and imposing in its scope.
One just needs to look at the opening track of ‘I, The Mourner of Perished Days’, which commences with female guest vocal conjuring a ceremonial vibe that draws from the band’s themes obsessed with religious destruction and cult figures. Slowly this withers away and the band’s long time collaborators The Assembly of Light Choir enter, furthering that religious vibe in ‘To Attempt Openness’ but soon we’re stripped down to The Body’s horrid core.
Chip King’s maniacal howling and weeping vocals are that of a possessed ghoul. His vocals have always been The Body’s defining feature, no other vocalist sounds quite like him. It wouldn’t be surprising if many just didn’t want to sound like him either; such is the unsettling aura he creates.
Despite the band’s mere two member make-up, they’ve crafted a deftly layered racket with this LP and it’s thanks largely to their collaborators in The Assembly of Light choir who truly create a ritualistic vibe with their ethereal collective of voices to counteract the coarse domain. The combination creates what is best described as a sickening ritual, which is best exemplified by ‘Melt Away’.
Fear and dismay remains the focal point at all times. This is a band that released a music video earlier this year compiled of police footage from the mass suicides of the Heaven’s Gate group in California, a harrowing tale put to harrowing music. Christ, Redeemers expands on everything that the video (taken from Master, We Perish) had to say, creating its own unsettling imagery for the music.
But Christ, Redeemers can still be beautiful, not only with the choir but with various lush string arrangements that are peppered throughout the record. ‘An Altar of a Grave’, for instance, blossoms with elegant violins over a gentle bed of droning guitars before the hellish vocals re-enter. Soon Chip is quietened again and the choir commences. This is emblematic of a push-and-pull of sorts between the album’s two versatile sides, horror and serenity, each jostling for position.
‘Failure to Desire to Communicate’ allows the harsh dissonance to take over the reins in crushing fashion all the while ‘Night of Blood in a World Without End’ is verdant strings and gorgeous ceremonial vocals once again.
It’s ‘Denial of the Species’ that plummets the record into even darker terrain (if that was even possible) with ear numbing droning guitars to start and distortion that builds and builds. For ‘Bearer of Bad Tidings’ the band up the intensity with doom-inflections and noisy dissonance that Godflesh and Swans would be proud of.
Christ, Redeemers is album of the year material but surely not to everyone’s taste. Its angularity and aggression is unparalleled and its altogether vibe is one that conjures nightmares; devastatingly impressive.
Christ, Redeemers is released October 15th through Thrill Jockey