Bodies on Everest – A National Day of Mourning

In 2015, Liverpool-Manchester hybrid Bodies on Everest produced The Burning (self-release), a ferocious slab of ultra-heavy, underproduced despair which its creators christened ‘Dungeon Wave’ and which tragically glided under the radar. Three years later that Blackened Doom crash has been reinvented on follow-up A National Day of Mourning (Cruel Nature Records / Third I Rex): the minimalist production accompanied by a more pensive, Drone-led violence, offering up a suffocating dystopian nightmare.

Opener ‘unreleaseddeathvideo.flac’ begins with ambient sounds bearing enough weight to warn of the coming onslaught to the senses. The growing screams and chopping of helicopter blades build into an unnerving cacophony of slow, torturous noise assisted by the thunderous twin-bass unit of Baynes and Wàrs. ‘Tally of Sevens’ sets off in a similarly concerning fashion, the horror being augmented by a shouted vocal style soaked in reverb, coming across like a particularly infuriated Mark E Smith undergoing a rectal examination. It’s a primitive, unholy amalgam that leaves the listener quivering.

Given the repetitive nature of the music, the amazing thing to note is a variety in style. The epic ‘Gold Fangs’ starts like a relic from the 80s, a Stranger Things-esque soundtrack of whirling, stark Electronica which drops to an eerie narrative, underpinned by that sparse yet steadily building rhythm line from hell. The Industrial hum of ‘Shotgun or Sidearm’ reinforces the gradual progression, a rumbling bass and electronic pulse a constant support to the ever-intensifying screams whilst slight inflections ramp up the tension.

Suspicious Canoe’ is a more uptempo foray into a Blackened Sludge morass, whilst closer ‘Who killed Yale Gracey?’ returns to the scary, unsettling mix of brutal oppression, brief electronic effects and disturbing hollers. In this final oscillation one can imagine the mind of a killer: tortured ever more by guilt and awareness, the madness descends as the pressure swells and crushes.

The greatest achievements are often a challenge and the early experiences of this album are difficult and draining. When such an unflinching template is decorated with the effect of rusting blades slowly slicing the skin it is difficult to find the aesthetic. Repeated attempts, however, reveal a product that is organic, technically stunning and imaginative, with more facets opening up in each new listen. Dripping with depression and horror, paradoxically you’ll find yourself called back to the rocks again and again. Welcome back boys.

8.0/10.0

PAUL QUINN