For Fans Of
New England sludge-doom two-piece, Body Void, are back with their sophomore album, ‘Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth’, and Jesus Christ are they mad! Other reviews, from both publications and from buyers on their Bandcamp page, stress the abrasiveness and deafening noise of this record. And they’re not wrong. You do not decide to listen to this album to be soothed, you go into an album, and these genres, quite frankly, to be broken down and remade. In his book on French philosopher Georges Bataille, author Benjamin Noys writes that there’s a kind of freedom that occurs with the violent transgression of norms, with life taken to its absolute limit, partly why Bataille was so interested in the connections between sex and death. Body Void, and other insanely heavy sludge metal bands like them, seek a kind of intensity that takes listeners to that limit. Albeit sonically. And, as political radicals, aim for a kind of liberation in the process.
You should be warned that all four of these 12-minute-plus songs sound roughly similar to one another. Each song is damned long, and the dominant pace of this LP is in line with other play-slow artists like Vile Creature, Adzes, and Primitive Man. That is, oppressively, crushingly, slow. Though every now and then, Body Void throw in some left hooks, like the mid-paced d-beat crust punk sections on ‘Laying Down In A Forest Fire’, the middle section of ‘Pale Man’, or towards the middle of ‘Fawn’. These sections recall some of the slower moments from Nails’ last album. Occasionally the band even manage to surprise with sporadic bursts of genuine speed, the middle of opening track ‘Wound’ being one such example once it exists the fourth-minute mark. Another interesting addition is the sweet tremolo-picking that’d fit on any kind of decent post-metal track, like what we hear on ‘Laying Down…’, or near the beginning of ‘Fawn’.
Some might be turned off due to the tracks’ overall similarity, despite the infrequent changes and interesting moments. I have the exact opposite perspective, however. Not that the switch-ups are bad, but sometimes the changes can be a little too sudden for my full liking: that fast-paced section on ‘Wound’, for example, is only 30 seconds long. The suddenness takes me out of the groove of the songs and doesn’t quite give me time to be carried away by the caving rhythms in the same way that most of the album does.
Body Void’s instrumental intensity is also present in their lyrics, with lyrics depicting extreme violence as a metaphor for the environmental apocalypse; for the current Anthropocene. Rather than the common doomsaying of an impending apocalypse, as if we can say the end is right around the corner, singer and guitarist Willow Ryan describes a world that is in the middle of a death by a thousand cuts that we refuse to properly acknowledge. From the very first lines on opener ‘Wound’, listeners know what they’re in for:
“The land is wounded
Drenched in blood
The skin that holds our ache
Stretched beneath a septic sun.”
Body Void’s anger is not merely some directionless rage, however, but places blame squarely at the feet of capital. With an environment that is so riven at such a global scale, nothing less than the total global economic system is an appropriate target for the band’s vitriol about the irreparable damage that’s been done.
“Capital’s worship of idols with no past
Consume the world with force
The cannibal flays the skin of family
Sells it back for more.”
Let’s face it, these lyrics, as much as I agree with what they’re saying, have so far hardly been subtle. But the third track ‘Fawn’ brings some metaphorical words that address the album’s theme of environmental violence in a more abstract way:
“You have two heads
You feel one pushing out
Trying to see
In your mouth
When they bloom
They burst from you
A lot of eco-horror can be several degrees beyond cheesy. See films like The Happening or Birdemic for well-worn examples. Yet the imagery of people being subsumed into nature recalls the more otherworldly moments in Alex Garland’s 2018 film, Annihilation, where the boundaries between people and their environment break down, suggesting an end to what the philosopher Timothy Morton calls “The Severing” of the naturally occurring solidarity between humans and non-humans. It’s exactly this kind of solidarity that has to be rekindled if we’re to address environmental violence in a truly planetary way.
‘Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth’ confronts a crumbling world that can only be responded to with anger. With sludgy, noisy instruments that reflect the slow destruction of the world, and crusty, harsh vocals that beat with the intensity of a thousand ritualistic climate protests, Body Void take listeners to their sonic limits. In that crushing heaviness, however, they also remind us that, as the second track states: “We’re not here to bargain. All we have is hope”.
2. Laying Down In A Forest Fire
4. Pale Man
‘Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth’ is out now: