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Saturday, May 19, 2018

The Body - I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. Music Album Reviews

The Body - I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. Music Album Reviews


Constructed largely out of cut-up and processed samples of their previous recordings, the noise-metal iconoclasts’ latest album takes the listener on journey through a hell of the Body’s careful making.

The Body have never thought of themselves as a metal band. Their last full-length, 2016’s No One Deserves Happiness, was the Portland duo’s version of a pop album, influenced by Taylor Swift, the Weeknd, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, and various suicide novels, as well as their collaborators on the project, Thou and the Haxan Cloak. “We always saw ourselves as more of a noise band than anything else,” drummer Lee Buford told Thump in 2016.

Constructed largely out of cut-up and processed samples of their previous recordings, the Body’s new album, I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, combines noise with electronic music. The result falls somewhere between the harsh-noise body horror of Pharmakon’s Bestial Burden and the way Shlohmo turns his emotive synths and beatwork toward grief and loss on Dark Red. True to form, the record hides moments of grace within an impenetrably violent landscape, capturing a rupture at the boundary of what is bearable.

The songs gain intensity as the album progresses, leading the listener deep into a hell of the Body’s careful making. Opening track “The Last Form of Loving” builds from a slow, melancholy prologue—violins to drums to heavy breathing—into a sort of hymn. Chrissy Wolpert, from the Body’s frequent collaborators Assembly of Light Choir, sings of “the light that survives us,” pausing on a moment of peace before “Can Carry No Weight” drops in with a thick drum beat, high-pitched chirp, and singer/guitarist Chip King’s disintegrated screams. The strings that accompany Wolpert’s gothic vocals feel ceremonial and portentous, evoking a ritual before sacrifice or the approach of a monster ready to devour the whole village. On “Partly Alive,” as rolling drums, horns, and layers of King’s blood-curdling shrieks coalesce into a cinematic wave, the thing arrives. Attacks. Spares no one.

The rest of the album roils in a terrifying yet mesmerizing darkness. On “The West Has Failed,” King’s screams are distorted beyond the human, absorbed into similarly mechanized drums—like when the bear in Annihilation screams with a human voice, but over an IDM groove. “An Urn” is the most straightforward dance track on the album, generously deploying three distinct breakdowns, each more brutal and gratifying than the last. It’s cathartic and destructive, like a rave in a collapsing building.

The single “Nothing Stirs” is the album’s massive, chilling apex, pulling together all the sounds that came before it. Built on industrial drums and ambient horror sounds, the track wouldn’t feel out of place as a Tri Angle Records release. Lyrics are important to the Body, but since King’s voice is used mostly as a sonic motif, they rely on guest vocalists to give their words life. On “Nothing Stirs,” Kristin Hayter (aka Lingua Ignota) delivers the lines, “When your love is gone/What is left/At night a prayer for death,” with a distinct bite. The closing refrain, “March on,” soars, breaks, and shatters, as though she is trying to launch the words into the atmosphere with a force they cannot withstand.

The Body have long been obsessed with suicide. I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer is, in fact, a line pulled from Virginia Woolf’s suicide note—and a quote that took on a particular resonance for me when, as I was living with the album, a friend finally succumbed to a debilitating illness.

The album is still a little bit metal in that it is still a little bit campy. But the struggle the Body relate on I Have Fought Against It is largely a prologue to the ultimate resignation, which manifests on the somber closing track, “Ten Times a Day, Every Day, a Stranger,” as engineer and drummer Seth Manchester’s father reads from Czech author Bohumil Hrabal’s novel Too Loud a Solitude. The song is a narrative of chronic pain and emptiness that resolves in sparse piano and silence.

Thinking of my friend, I found myself stopping short of “Ten Times a Day” to avoid its stark implications. It felt easier to stop one track earlier, with “Sickly Heart of Sand”—where Hayter howls Woolf’s words, “I have fought against it but I can’t any longer,” but embedded in the kinetic brutality of her voice is the certainty that one is still fighting.

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