"You're not going to believe this fuckin' band. They played one of the craziest sets I've ever seen."
I'll never forget when these words were spoken to me around ten years ago by a lifelong friend and then-bandmate who is, and I say this with the utmost love and respect, a born hater. Just a man who possesses immense disdain for most things he encounters, especially music that wasn't released by Factory Records in the early-to-mid 1980s. To hear him rave so breathlessly about a band he had just seen was astonishing. As we stood there in our freezing practice space trying our best to do anything but actually write music, I pressed him for more details.
"They're called The Body. They were a two-piece, just guitar and drums, but the drummer played this big red acrylic kit. It was so fucking loud. I was standing all the way in the back of the room and my head was still throbbing afterwards."
And that was all I needed to hear. A quick google search the moment I got home provided not only one of the best band promos I've seen to date (the duo, Chip King and Lee Buford, posted up by a window, Chip peering outwards with binoculars while Lee wields a rifle), but also their most recent album at that point in time, entitled All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood. I listened to it once, and then again, and then dozens more times that winter. It soundtracked my reluctant trudges through Western New York snow to get to high school on time and late night drives home from out-of-town shows. There was something alien and elusive about it that kept drawing me back, but also something unmistakably physical and primal. The band's name was perfect – this was corporeal music. Music to be felt pass over and through you. And it was terrifying.
The album begins with around four minutes of choral singing and chanting from The Assembly of Light Choir, as if to prime you into a state of cowering reverence for the chaos that's about to ensue. When that chaos does finally arrive, with a feedback swell and King's signature screech, all you can really do is bow your head and accept your lowly place for the next 50 minutes. Throughout All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood, The Body trades in aural abuse that should be recognizable to most contemporary metal listeners – crushing doom metal, blistering electronics and howled vocals prevail throughout the album's runtime – but King and Buford contort and pervert these tried-and-true rudiments into new and highly disturbing instruments of torture. On "Empty Hearth," a sampled chanted prayer is mangled and distorted into something that more closely resembles a chorus of death rattles. On album closer "Lathspell I Name You," a string section that could potentially provide a sense of comfort and familiarity in an album full of instruments distorted to incomprehensible levels is quickly suffocated by squalls of noise.
The Body has had an extensive and inspiring career since this album's release, touring relentlessly and collaborating with a host of other genre-defying artists, and I've been lucky enough to see them a few times now (and you should too if you ever get the opportunity). They've released several other albums that I hold in high esteem and revisit frequently, but All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood will always be the first one I'll recommend to new listeners. It asks no questions and provides no answers. If it stands for anything, to my ear, it exists as a sonic tribute to the unfeeling entropy of the universe, providing no solutions for how we should deal with the collective trauma of our shared existence, and serving only to force the recognition upon us that life as we know it is cruel, violent and absurd in all aspects. Fun for the whole family. Bring the kids.