The Body releases a pop album

Oregon’s notorious sludge metal duo broaden their destructive horizons.


Maxwell Heilman, Writer

In a scene known for its relentless pursual of sonic depravity, modern doom metal bands must push boundaries past everyone’s expectations in order to stand out in the vanguard. Portland, OR luminaries, The Body, have done just that throughout almost two dozen slabs of emotional abuse.

disdain for boundaries

Drummer Lee Buford and guitarist/vocalist Chip King make their disdain for boundaries clear. Anything from beautifully orchestrated choral pieces to sample heavy drone music can be found in between their infamously punishing dirges. Their music is challenging, but sublimely rewarding if approached with the proper mindset. “No One Deserves Happiness” continues to separate The Body from their contemporaries whilst radically diverting from their own past.

Described on the sadistic duo’s bandcamp page as an attempt at making “the grossest pop album of all time,” “No One Deserves Happiness” lives up to its name. Traces of more civilized forms of expression can be heard amid the muck, but in no way does that make this album an easy listen. “Wanderings” begins with a half-time drum machine loop and gorgeously harmonized female vocals — courtesy of ongoing contributors Maralie and Wolpert Armstrong.

follows a similar path

It might seem like The Body turned a new leaf until Bufford fills into King’s slow-motion riffage. The song maintains its rhythmic and melodic structure, but molasses-caked groove and volume worship give it hideous new life. “Shelter Is Illusory” follows a similar path, synthesizing a danceable vibe and the aforementioned female vocals with impossibly heavy guitars and dirgey atmospheres. The accessible elements of these songs clash with the accentuating misshapen whole.

One could put the songs in “No One Deserves Happiness” in two categories. While “Two Snakes” and “Adamah” shamelessly mangle dance pop — the former partly inspired by Beyoncé — tracks like “Hallow / Hollow” and “Starving Deserter” dive deeper into the profoundly upsetting sludge metal The Body is known for. The Armstrongs give spaciously confrontational melody to the otherwise claustrophobic vibe, with the exception of the harsh noise interlude “For You,” making the album as haunting as it is pulverizing.

King’s own unhinged wails stay as harsh as ever, lending an additional dose of despondency wherever he is featured. Unorthodox instruments are also given prominence at many points, including the delicate piano chords in the drone pop ballad “The Fall and the Guilt” and the audacious brass arrangements of “Starving Deserter.”

true to their reputation

Buford and Lee stay true to their reputation, adding layer upon layer of vexatious samples, synth pads and noisescapes to their insidious compositions. Regardless of what directions this album takes, it never loses the grossness factor. The last two songs exemplify this enduring respect for cacophony in the midst of a myriad of stylistic choices.

The longest song on the record, “Prescience” serves as the emotional climax of the record. Somber spoken word gives way to plodding groove, morose riffage and ethereal choral vocals, which build on one another before collapsing into noisy drone. A cumulatively majestic leviathan of sound breaks the resulting trance. “The Myth Arc” ends the track with oceanic distortion and bleak atmospheres. Noise engulfs Clean vocals and discernible riffs until vocal loops and droning strings bid listeners farewell. The Body’s exploration of pop music is indeed gross, but I could not recommend it more. For all adventurous listeners, this is the jackpot.

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