Banner Photo via: Aquarium Dempseys
Next to Sunn O))), The Body is the most physically intense band I’ve ever seen. The Portland duo is also one of the most prolific bands I know of. Last year alone, they released two collaborations — one with Thou and the other with The Haxan Cloak — and their second full-length, Master, We Perish. Each of their releases is infused with enough anxiety and misanthropy to make you want to kill yourself, but you have to see them live to experience the full extent of their nastiness. I was lucky enough to see The Body the other night in Fresno on their current tour with Sandworm, with whom they’ve recently released a split LP.
Fresno doesn’t have the biggest scene for underground metal. I’ve seen some amazing shows here, but most venues don’t book heavy bands, at least not regularly. The past few shows I’ve been to were a lot more listener friendly, which made The Body’s punishing set even more intense.
After Sandworm played a set of proto black metal, Chip King set up his rig: two full-stack bass cabinets and a guitar full stack. Sitting next to the mixing booth, I heard the sound guy tell Chip not to turn up too loud. Chip nodded, only running the guitar stack during sound check. But, when he and Lee Buford started their actual set, he fired up his whole rig, punishing everyone in the venue with a tsunami of sub-bass reverberations.
Seeing The Body is grueling. Pushed by Buford’s simplistic, but tight-as-fuck drumming, Chip King’s hoarse screams scratch at your mind like some kind of brain-dwelling rodent. The Body only let the audience rest for about one minute, total. For the rest of their forty-five minute set, the massive spectrum of scathing highs and pressurized lows coming from King’s rig combined with these other sounds to form a full-on aural assault.
For some 80s hardcore bands, part of their intensity was often wrapped up in the possibility that the members might beat your ass. But The Body has taken that ethos and transformed it from a possibility to a promise: they will fuck you up every time you see them. I wore my fancy, custom ear plugs for the set, but the pressure from Chip King’s rig still made me feel like I was under ten feet of water. The sounds also coiled around my chest—a physical manifestation of the anxious misanthropy that drives The Body’s music.
The Body probably won’t get invited back to the venue they played in Fresno, but I’m definitely going to catch them the next chance I get.