Album Review: The Body’s Christs, Redeemers Will Keep You Awake in Your Sleeping Hours
Compared to the lone choir that greeted listeners on Portland-by-Providence-by-Little Rock duo The Body’s All The Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, or the air raid sirens that lead off Master, We Perish, their EP released in April, the first track on their newest record Christs, Redeemers, “I, The Mourner of Perished Days” seems…inviting by comparison. In fact, with its drone and female vocals, there’s a deceptive warmth to it, harkening back to the group’s cover of Sinead O’Connor’s “Black Boys on Mopeds” from their 2008 covers EP. Of course, once the next track, “To Attempt Openess,” comes, it’s The Body getting under your skin with their brand of ultra bassy, ultra hateful doom metal. Yup, this is a Body record alright. But not quite the same Body.
Christs marks a middle ground (a term that could rarely be used about their music) between the more “live” sound of their earlier work and the studio craft that defined Waters. There’s nothing like “Empty Hearth,” with fragments of King’s cut-and-pasted guitars and samples of cult members speaking in tongues. If you’ve seen The Body live, and lived to talk about it, you may notice that King likes his vocals mixed quite low. His Xasthur-esque wails are more buried on this record, and they also seem to be even higher and more strung out! The guitar tone also doesn’t have as much treble, compared to the Khanate-like tones of Waters. These mark a shift towards the “live” sound, but on the other hand, The Assembly of Light Choir, frequent collaborators with The Body, appear more on Christs. At this point, they should be considered members of the band. To go from two dudes to a group large enough to get mistagged as a “collective.” That would be something. Strings make an appearance on Christs, courtesy of Laura Gulley. When they come on “Night of Blood in a World Without End,” you may think you’re in for a Penderecki-esque bombing, but the strings more creep in the background than stand forth. Later, on “Denial of the Species,” comes the atonal bombast you really want. The Body are Jack Nicholson using his volunteer firefighter experience to break down a door that may as well be made of wood scraps to reach you, Shelley Duval screaming in confusion and agony.
The Body are a doom band first and foremost, but when they speed up, they’re deadly. This is especially true on the closing track, “Bearer of Bad Tidings,” where King riffs to oblivion and Lee Buford, for once, lets loose on the kit. Soon, the track turns into a harsh noise experiment, Lee’s guitars bent into unfathomable shapes. There’s much more of a noise influence on this record, with hiss and crackles permeating many of the songs. More extreme wings of metal tend to border on noise now, so it’s a natural fit for The Body for incorporate more of that into their pummel. Hopeful for a Prurient collaboration.
While The Body have made some tweaks to their sound on Christs, there is one thing that remains consistent: their bleak outlook. Take this lyric sample from “Prayers Unanswered”: “a blade to kill your enemy/a fire to fill your lonely hovel/a heart to cure your lonely heart….” Even if King and Buford could give you those things, they would’t mean much. They won’t really fix your alienation or take care of your adversaries. “Denial of the Species” is a blunt anti-religion song: “Your belief is your prison/denial of the senses/the pursuit of knowledge/negation of belief/denial of the species.” Even that tiny little ray of light get squashed by King’s amplifier sorcery and Buford’s war march. The very last words on the record are “All the world a grave,” because every great acting career must come to an end eventually. Only death is real, and The Body know that too well.
There’s no word on the status of The Body’s collaborations with Krieg and Thou I talked about earlier in the year. Hopefully, they’ll come to pass sooner than later, but in the meantime, Christs will keep you awake, looking out your window with a rifle in your hand, in your sleeping hours.