Review: The Body “I’ve Seen All I Need to See” [Thrill Jockey Records]

Review: The Body “I’ve Seen All I Need to See” [Thrill Jockey Records]

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Score 90%
90 %
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The Body is a band that I have been enjoying since their 2018 album “I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer”. Though I haven’t had time to listen to all their albums and offerings, the ones I have are favorites amongst myself and paint a clear picture as to what this Portland duo is all about. The Body makes music that is negativity, misery, self-loathing and hate incarnate, lyrically and stylistically, with their latest album ‘I Have Seen All I Need to See’ being no exception. And while I awaited this album with great anticipation, I cannot help but exclaim that it’s a weaker follow up to the nihilistic monster that was ‘I.H.F.A.I., B.I.C.A.L.’. ‘I.S.A.I.N.T.S.’ is still no album to trifle with, as it thrashes and lashes out with misanthropic panic, demonstrating to me a more calculated and standard experimental sludge record. Fret not friends, The Body is still as unwelcoming as ever.

When describing the music of this record, I’m always reminded of the astute personification my unnerved friend used to describe the band. He called it “the musical equivalent of a panic attack”, and I could not agree more. This album is designed to make you uncomfortable and does so by arranging its songs in non-traditional manners, oppressive and feedback heavy bass tones and guitars, unintelligible wails, and bizarre methods of creating rhythm in some tracks. Songs such as ‘A Lament’ or ‘They Are Coming’ construct lasting moments of terror, dread, and unease by having the music cut out at precise intervals, or having the feedback zero in on you, only for the percussion and fuzz crash back into the fray to illustrate the audial form of encroaching, palpable form of fear. It’s no surprise that these songs are the two bleak highlights of the album, as they build an atmosphere so ripe with tension and noise that you can almost chew on it. Once again, this is all thanks to the brilliant arrangements and thickness of the instruments involved. The production is also another advantage utilized by the album, manipulating all the dimensions it can as to create a bitter and inhospitable landscape of noise and screams, bounded together by the methodical and cunning writing.

This pervasive atmosphere is a constant throughout the album and yet the record feels more standard in comparison to its predecessor. That’s due to in part, most of the songs having little in ways of arcs or dynamic emotions. The only tracks to feature dynamic shifts in mood are the first (and best) track, ‘A Lament’, and appropriately, the final track, ‘Path of Failure’. The album teases me with that first song, beaming with a steady, yet rising painful march, crescendoing with mighty and beautifully drab electronics, which elegant melodies stand out gracefully from the previously established crashing drones and drums. Then most of the other songs, just mill about in their own puddles of woe and hate. They’re still fierce and sharp in their own ways, ‘Eschatological Imperative’ being particularly unrelenting in it’s intensity, but never rise above such. It leaves tracks like ‘Tied Up and Locked In’ or ‘A Pain of Knowing’ feeling flatter in comparison, like a less tragic tragedy. That said, all of these tragedies gleam with their own flavor of sadness and I suppose that makes the richer ones stand out all the more.

The Body has done another excellent job of making music that makes your skin crawl. ‘I.S.A.I.N.T.S.’ doesn’t tell you what to feel, it just makes you feel something, the purest form of artistic expression I’ve seen in the domain of heavy metal. It doesn’t hold your hand, it’s loud, it’ heavy, and the talent that went into it is reflected clear as day through the tortured performances of Lee Buford and Chip King. This collection of crashing static and painful humming is right at home in the discography of The Body and another accurate strike of experimental sludge metal, pushing boundaries and making art unsafe once again.

Release date: January 29th, 2021

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