We live in trying times, in a world that feels disjointed, fractured and governed by malicious forces. There’s always light and hope somewhere in the mire, but it’s hard to argue against the fact that we are living through a time that’s exerting great mental strife and pain on many. Rhode Island experimental metal duo The Body are expert channelers of this psychic despair, having carved out a formidable oeuvre consisting of varying and uncompromising portraits of emotional distress and anguish.
Their savagery has displayed shades of nuance, collaborative album with Uniform Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back contained kinetic stretches of techno-esque electronica, and early works such as their 2012 self-titled album saw glimpses of doomy, bleak melodies. However these comparably palatable traits are nowhere to be found on the duo’s newest release I’ve Seen All I Need To See. Consisting of eight tracks of distorted pulses, booms and shrieks, this is among the closest an album has ever come to truly epitomising the label ‘noise rock’. This is noise music performed by a rock band, although to call The Body a ‘rock band’ requires the loosest use of the term imaginable.
Their method for this album saw drummer and programmer Lee Buford laying down a rhythmic base to the tracks, to which guitarist and vocalist Chip King then added layers of distorted guitar and his signature pained vocals. This is among the duo’s most minimal and simple works, featuring none of the programmed beats, female vocals or grandiose majesty present on career highlights I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer and No One Deserves Happiness. This is among The Body’s most stripped-back works, somehow bare and skeletal yet also fiercely muscular and visceral.
From the pulsating noise on the back half of ‘Eschatological Imperative’ to the devastatingly chaotic ‘They Are Coming’, the guitars are so heavily warped and distorted that they merge with the programmed noise, at different points seeming to swell, breathe and consume. However, they are also cold, sinister and initially impenetrable. At first glance there seems to be little to balance out the noise, unlike previous The Body outings which are more ornate and varied in their construction. Only upon repeated listens does I’ve Seen All I Need To See reveal its adornments, which are still sparingly used, but often creepily effective. ‘The Handle The Blade’ contains great momentum, with rolling linear drums that propel the track into a section featuring an eerie sample, which breaks through the static like a radio broadcast from the underworld. Then there’s closer ‘Path Of Failure’, which features wild, free jazz drums as if Merzbow had remixed an Ornette Coleman track.
These nuances rise above the horror only upon determined and repeated listens, which, for all but the most discerning and committed listeners, will be a serious test of their endurance. I’ve Seen All I Need To See is perhaps a touch too committed to its minimal, uncompromising aesthetic, too much of an experiment into minimal, noise-driven brutality that it results in a finished product not quite as accomplished as its creators’ previous works. None of which is to say that the album is a failure, it’s yet another singular and harrowing portrayal of anguish that only The Body could have envisaged. It’s another product of our bleak here and now, a howl from the void that is our down-trodden world, yet a few more shades of black could have made it an even bolder statement, one that, in time, The Body will surely go on to produce again.
I've Seen All I Need To See is released January 29th via Thrill Jockey.