From the genre's creation all the way to modern bands, the masses have always used the term "heavy" to qualify metal groups. And while I too am guilty of indulging in judging music based on its heaviness, I'd argue an even more optimal and consistent element in the history of metal music is the essence of the weird. The very first metal band, Black Sabbath? Absolute weirdo hippies obsessed with the occult. One of the largest metal acts, Metallica? Oh yeah, that Lulu album is the epitome of weird. The group that took the metal world by storm visually and musically, Slipknot? They have weird written all over themselves from the masks to sniffing dead birds. Babymetal, GWAR, Devin Townsend, Cannibal Corpse, Sunn O))), Marilyn Manson, the list goes on. All bonafide weirdoes.
As it's now clear how vital the aspect of weird is to the metal genre, I find myself further drawn to metal bands that embrace their offbeat identity. Melted Bodies is the most recent perfect example of zany off-the-wall artistry that pushes the envelope deeper down the rabbit hole of weird with gusto and grace. Mixing sarcastic, yet a critical sense of humor-based lyrics with avant-garde, alternative, and mathcore music allured me like a moth to light.
On their debut album, Enjoy Yourself, they cut straight to the jugular of wacky musical fusion on opener "Eat Cops" as if the Melvins were covering a B-52's song while wrestling in a vat of bacon grease. It'd also be difficult not to mention the provocative song title, where the band presents some form of socio-political commentary on the topical disdain for certain authority figures. While not presenting much of an argument, the on-the-nose and less than positive sentiment towards blue uniforms are clear. Although it would've been more compelling to hear in-depth insight on the concept of cop cannibalism; the tension-building music and potentially controversial theme allow for an attention-grabbing intro for the record.
The duality of both eccentric musicality and lyrical critiques on modern society seems to be a consistent approach throughout Enjoy Yourself. Going down the tracklisting, we see the radical energy continue on "99 Scents," which seems to strike criticism at consumerism with the frantic dynamics of Primus on crack. "Ad People," which has a phenomenally humorous music video, provokes the absurdity of marketing in a System of a Down meets Dillinger Escape Plan chaos. Also jabbing at the business world, "Funny Commercials (and the Five-Week Migraine)" throws some surf rock and synths into the mix while carrying the torch of experimental experts Dog Fashion Disco, Oingo Boingo, or Stolen Babies.
Despite their foundation being rooted in the unorthodox, Melted Bodies are nonetheless also fully capable of diving into the extreme side of metal. “The Rat” and “The Abbot Kinney Pedophiles” exude a frantic Cave In or Converge-like hardcore energy at parts while still maintaining some Mike Patton level innovation and melody. On the other hand, the band also boasts a subdued side with the outro of "The Abbot Kinney Pedophiles" transitioning to “Helplessness” in an eerie Queens of the Stone Age Lullabies to Paralyze-era quality. The moody and dramatic tone prevails for the rest of the aforementioned piece in an Arctic Monkeys slow-burner fashion.
All in all, the material on this LP showcase Melted Bodies' ability to shred society’s hypocrisy and eye-rolling culture to pieces without ever nearing edgy or cringy territory. Not only does Enjoy Yourself provide a soundtrack for the ridiculousness of 21st century America, but it also allows you to look inward at your own flaws. Tracks like "Club Anxious," "Phone Tumor," and "Meat Cleanse" led to internal retrospection of my personal relationship with mental health, technology, and consumption.
I’ll also admit this is probably the most fun I've had reviewing a record in awhile too. I’m certainly grateful for this position, yet it occasionally becomes mundane critiquing or analyzing albums that haven’t strayed far from the norm. Luckily, projects like Melted Bodies break that monotony and bring forth an album overflowing in creativity. In the future, I look forward to the band pushing their weird factor, extreme metal, and melodic hooks even further. But for now, I'm having one hell of a time experiencing the heavy psychedelic trip that is Enjoy Yourself.