If ever two bands were put together in order to aurally depict the turgid, depressing slog that is Life In Northern England Under An Elitist Bunch Of Fascists, it’s Liverpool’s Bodies on Everest and their Newcastle-based touring chums Lump Hammer. As joint release Whelmed (Inverted Grim-Mill Recordings) is a “split”, one would expect around half-an-hour of bile and Sludgy hostility: but as if to ram home the belief that There Is No Hope, this thing grinds along morbidly, relentlessly, for a full hour and forty minutes.
The Scousers kick us off, one of their twin bass guitars rumbling the intro to ‘My Mother In The Mountains Affects My Gym Coat At Work’: the introduction of the second bass and samples giving added boom and emphasis to the early, sinister stages of this twenty-minute epic. The harrowing explosion of the midway point, its rough screams stiffening the marrow, shows all that Bodies on Everest are about: terror, despair and railing anger, a bizarre mix of Bismuth and The Body, its prolonged cacophony of vehement, droning noise overwhelming the poor victim.
A study into the effects of cocaine takes us into the ensuing ‘Do Ghosts See Dogs’, the plunking bass a metronome underpinning emphysemic wails and shimmering cymbals. It’s hideous and hateful, even when the sound is augmented by more mellow bass tones. More staggering yet doleful might opens the nefarious drawl of ‘(Yes)’: a hypnotic albatross around the neck, its slow pendulum sinking the ears into a pit of resigned torpor, before this delicious torture ends with ‘Kicking My Landlord’s Head In’, a more uptempo Punk slaughter which still manages to sound as dystopian as a Dickensian childhood but with the frenetic passion of a whirling dervish.
If Bodies on Everest’s dragged offering churns the stomach, albeit in a strangely attractive way, Lump Hammer’s sonic battery is more varied. Opener ‘Pig Fish’ is all Low-end, so much so that it’s akin to having a bass drum whacked around your head at a lumbering pace, while the bass-heavy rhythm is injected with horror and despair by James Watts‘ Black-infused scream. The more Doom-soaked ‘Riddled’ is a much heavier, sinister beast: Sea Bastard without the Irongiant leadwork, its monstrously slow rhythm pounds the mind while Watts’ voice emits true agony and angst.
‘Tired’ sets out in more tuneful, sombre fashion, with Croft‘s subtle drums and mellow bass notes giving a sadder edge. Watts’ rough Blues wail sits in the background and while the sudden explosion is predictable, the pace is retained. The penultimate ‘Manual Labour’ sets out in much the same style but soon fires into a trammelling growl of protestation, Watts’ emphysemic grunts evoking London’s Ghold and Denver terrorists Primitive Man in both manner and fearsome weight: while closer ‘FFS’ is a sixteen-minute primal scream; a slow, rhythmically-swinging club with straining bass notes and brutalised drums whining against the repeated holler of the exclamation. It could be argued that 100 minutes of this apocalyptic material is too much in one sitting: however, the track and its repeated mantra closes an album which is highly effective and an absorbing way of encapsulating what’s been a particularly torrid year.
7 / 10