The Body have announced a new album, due out in January of 2021. I’ve Seen All I Need To See will release on January 29th, 2021 via Thrill Jockey, and the group has shared their sick new single, “A Lament”. The album is also live to pre-order now! Typically, their albums feature a bevy of guests, but this album is just the core due on every track. Sure to be one of the most talked-about albums of early next year, jam “A Lament” right now. Continue reading
Big time artists do big-time things, at big times, to paraphrase my favorite sports analogy. 2018 is shaping up to be a crazier time in the world than ever, full of chaos, and special kind of hubris that fuels the mania. Art is typically a reflection of society, and for me personally, I have been clinging to art in a vain attempt to help save my own life in this tumultuous time. One of those artists giving me life has been underground supergroup SUMAC, with songs as big as the all caps in their name. Turning in yet another massive release with Love In Shadow (Thrill Jockey), the band peels back the curtain on this undercurrent running through all of us and shows us the glorious ugliness many choose not to see.Continue reading
Post-metal titans Sumac have released a new single, ‘Attis’ Blade’ from their new album Love In Shadow due out soon from Thrill Jockey. Jam it out right now! Continue reading
Throughout their recent collaborative works with Full of Hell and Thou, Portland noise conjurers The Body have released their seventh studio album I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer on Thrill Jockey, leaving listeners shaken with content dejection. The experimental duo, Lee Buford and Chip King, have been testing the definition of ‘heavy’ since the early 2000s but this body of work has finally shattered the preconception.Continue reading
The Body and Full Of Hell released their Ascending A Mountain Of Heavy Light EP last month, and as Ross said in his 7/10 review, these two bands “continue to push the boundaries of what qualifies as music.” In case you’re still unsure about picking it up or not, Thrill Jockey is streaming the entire EP online right now. Continue reading
Post-metal supergroup SUMAC, featuring members of ISIS, Russian Circles, and Baptists, has teamed with Japanese expressionist composer Keiji Haino to create a collaborative release, due for release this winter via the Thrill Jockey label. Dubbed American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous To Look At Face On it will drop on February 23rd, 2018. The collective has released an album trailer with a snippet of music you can watch and hear below.Continue reading
The Body and Full Of Hell are no strangers to collaborations or to each other, as both acts have teamed up in the past together and individually with some of the undergrounds best bands (Thou, Code Orange, Krieg etc). One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache (Neurot) was an assault on the senses, and you’d expect nothing less from both bands, but with Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light (Thrill Seeker) they look to push the boundaries of what qualifies as music even further.Continue reading
With the formation of SUMAC back in 2014 featuring Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom), Nick Yacyshyn (Baptists) and BrianCook (Russian Circles, These Arms Are Snakes) and the release of their début album, The Deal, shortly afterwards, the metal community was taken back by the sheer exponential experimentation that was introduced on this project. And let’s just say that they left quite a raw post-metal-ish impression. Nevermind that the expectations were already set pretty high with such an all-star line-up, but what is more stunning is that they met them effortlessly with The Deal, showing the machinic beauty in minimalistic chaos.
Now one can only wonder what to expect from SUMAC’s sophomore release, What One Becomes, having newly signed to Thrill Jockey Records. How are they going to show progress after such a smashing début? Well, they sure as hell did something because the bar has officially been set higher for all bands in the cold metal game. This 5-track LP is a masterpiece of mechanical pandemonium and order, props to Kurt Ballou (Converge) for mixing. All tracks clock in a minimum of 10 minutes, with the longest one, ‘Blackout’, being a 17-minute journey. One of the aspects of this record that stand out the most from the previous is that on the balance scale of control and chaos… a tad more weight was placed on control although chaos still has more emphasis.
The first stand-out track, ‘Image of Control’, pushes out an interpretation of what it feels to be in constant battle with an anxiety-ridden mind. It begins its manifestation with confused out-of-key guitar distortion and cavernous vocals. But as the clouds of confusion begin to break, the lone guitar signifies the deep breathe of relief to finally gain order in the midst of it all. And so begins the heavy monologue of awkwardly orchestrated harmony between the zombie guitar/bass riffs and marching drums. To the untrained ear, it may sound like just noise. But with each additional listen, one will realize the strong musicianship and technical skills needed to create this amazing sound.
Another stand-out track is, without a doubt, ‘Clutch of Oblivion’. It starts off with a somber annunciated guitar riff which leads into a slow progressive groove that can easily give you an Isis flashback. But SUMAC is a lot dirtier sounding and experimental, which is one of the greatest differentiations from the band members’ past projects in general. Nevertheless, the track suddenly shifts from that familiarity to this wall of epic sound, bringing the listener back down to harsh cold earth. The technicality is most notable on this track because the time signatures throughout this entire track (and every track for that matter) are so strange and unpredictable that it leaves you intrigued.
With the magnitude of progressive and experimental metal available for your listening pleasure, you can often find yourself knowing what’s coming next whether it be a down tempo breakdown, extended distortion or ambience. But with SUMAC, you truly cannot see what’s coming. Every track on the album leaves an everlasting feeling and one can easily find themselves circling back through the entire album without hesitation. This solid body of work is truly a highlight of 2016 metal releases thus far and will surely be on plenty of end-of-the-year lists.
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Nomadic apocalyptic doom cult The Body has an upcoming North American tour with Full Of Hell as support. Dates are below. They recently unleashed two separate collaborative recordings with Thou; the first, Released From Love, through Vinyl Rites in April 2014 and the second, You, Whom I Have Always Hated, just this year via Thrill Jockey, also responsible for the band’s 2014-released split with Sandworm and 2013-released I Shall Die Here collaboration with The Haxan Cloak.
THE BODY On Tour Now:
Apr 16: First Unitarian Church – Philadelphia, PA (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 17: Strange Matter – Richmond, VA (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 18: Gatewood Studio Arts Center – Greensboro, NC
Apr 19: Drunken Unicorn – Atlanta, GA (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 20: Local 662 – St. Petersburg, FL (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 21: Churchill’s – Miami, FL (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 22: The Warehouse – Gainesville, FL (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 23: The End – Nashville, TN (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 24: Sticky Fingerz – Little Rock, AR (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 26: Sisters In Christ – New Orleans, LA (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 27: Mohawk Inside – Austin, TX (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 28: Three Links – Dallas, TX (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 29: Electric Banana – El Paso, TX (w/ Full of Hell)
Apr 30: 52 West – Phoenix, AZ (w/ Full of Hell)
May 01: Complex – Los Angeles, CA (w/ Full of Hell)
May 02: 924 Gilman – Berkeley, CA (w/ Full of Hell)
May 03: Highwater Mark – Portland, OR (w/ Full of Hell)
May 04: Black Lodge – Seattle, WA (w/ Full of Hell)
May 05: Feral House – Boise, ID (w/ Full of Hell)
May 06: TBA
May 07: Glob – Denver, CO (w/ Full of Hell)
May 08: Ernie November’s – Cheyenne, WY (w/ Full of Hell)
May 09: FOKL – Kansas City, MO
May 10: Triple Rock – Minneapolis, MN (w/ Full of Hell)
May 11: Quarters – Milwaukee, WI (w/ Full of Hell)
May 12: The Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL (w/ Full of Hell)
May 13: Belvederes – Pittsburgh, PA (w/ Full of Hell)
May 14: Sugar City – Buffalo, NY (w/ Full of Hell)
May 15: The Middle East – Boston, MA (w/ Full of Hell)
May 16: ABC No Rio – New York, NY (w/ Full of Hell) (matinee show)
May 16: Saint Vitus Bar – Brooklyn, NY (w/ Full of Hell) (night show)
May 17: Machines With Magnets – Providence, RI (w/ Full of Hell)
May 22: Space Gallery – Portland, ME (w/ Clean)
May 23: TBA – Montreal, QC (w/ Clean)
May 24: TBA – Toronto, ON (w/ Clean)
May 25: Union Arts – Washington, DC (w/ Full Of Hell, Primitive Man)
Jun 03: The Crown – Baltimore, MD (Apex VI w/ Trepaneringsritualen, Aderlating, Irm, Sutekh Hexen)
Jun 07: Trans Pecos – Queens, NY (Apex VI w/ Sophia + Karjalan Sissit, Svartsinn, Northaunt, Havan, Funerary Call)
If you pay any attention to internet forums or social media venues concerning Black Metal, strap yourself in and get ready for the waterworks. Liturgy’s 2011 album Aesthetica (Thrill Jockey) practically set those parts of the internet where panda-paint and studded armbands are still the law on fire with howling and recriminations – they were hipsters who didn’t understand Metal; they were disrespecting or even betraying Metal; anyone who liked them was a poser and personally responsible for the death of Cliff Burton.
The internet being what it is, of course, the other side were as bad, gleefully throwing around hyperbole about “transcending” Metal’s limitations and the death of the caveman headbanger. Four years later, the follow-up to this divisive album has been released, and in terms of honouring Black Metal’s traditions and aesthetics, it makes Aesthetica look like A Blaze In The Northern Sky (Peaceville). There will be tears.
Liturgy, of course, are entirely aware of this reputation. Setting out their stall from the very beginning, The Ark Work (Thrill Jockey Records) opens with that most Black Metal of clichés – the portentous synth intro – and turns it on its head. Fanfare opens with the parpiest keyboards we’ve heard since Anthems To The Welkin At Dusk (Candlelight), but uses repetitions, discord and glitches to turn it into something resembling Bal-Sagoth having a stroke – both triumphant and broken, familiar yet challenging. Aesthetically, the rest of the album takes its cues from this, blending glitchy electronics, parpy synths, jingly bells and programmed drums in with Liturgy’s usual guitars and… ahem… “burst beats” to create a dense, shifting wall of sound. It’s the vocals, however, which are likely be the biggest sticking point – the more traditional screams of Aesthetica making way for a withdrawn, chant-like mumble, clean yet muddied, and unusually passive and withdrawn for a Metal band of any kind. The internet has already had a massive coronary over ‘Vitriol’, in which vocalist Hunter Hunt-Hendricks “raps” – though in truth it’s more like Middle-Class Spoken Word than anything you’d find on a Hip-Hop album.
Musically, this is a much more varied collection than we’d normally expect from a “Black Metal” band – ranging from triumphant fanfares and surprisingly ferocious blasts through to languid, contemplative passages and shuffling, trance-like electronica – but Liturgy succeed in retaining a feeling of identity and purpose throughout. Even on the afore-mentioned ‘Vitriol’, it never feels like they’re throwing all their cool new influences against a wall to see what sticks – there’s a sense of purpose and intent here that separates them from the aimless hipsterish mess they’ve been accused of being. This is an ALBUM, not just a collection of point-scoring references, and it unfolds with an arrogance and forcefulness that is entirely Metal
That’s the most surprising thing about The Ark Work, as much as both fans and detractors alike would argue otherwise – it is absolutely Metal As Fuck. TheArk Work doesn’t always sound like Heavy Metal, let alone Black Metal, but it couldn’t have come from any other genre. Whereas their equally-controversial peers Deafheaven take fairly conservative Black Metal music and play it with a completely different attitude and aesthetic, Liturgy do almost the opposite, drawing on musical elements quite far from genre traditions, but always investing it with the arrogance, power and sense of sheer unashamed ludicrousness that has always marked the best Metal. Even the vocals make sense once you realise how utterly un-self-conscious they are, and what a massive middle finger to genre conventions they represent. You spluttered in disbelief when you first heard Hunter droning away on Quetzlcoatl? How do you think 80’s Trad Metal fans felt when they first heard Tom G Warrior?
Despite what you may have heard, The Ark Work is neither the ultimate transformation of stupid music into art nor the final betrayal of Metal’s values by the poser hordes. It is, however, one of the boldest, most distinctive and utterly unflinching Metal albums you’ll hear all year, and the perfect example of a band with a strong vision and a determination to walk their own path until the end.