The Body and Full of Hell return with another dark and abrasive collaborative effort with Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light.
Throughout their careers, The Body and Full of Hell have thrived in the underground extreme music scenes by being prolific workhorses, and by purveying a sound and image in their respective genres that is dark, misanthropic and nihilistic, which seems to strike a chord with the more “disenfranchised” heavy music listener. Because of their commendable work ethics and shared love for all things polarizing and noisy, its not surprising that their paths would eventually cross, resulting in 2016’s One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache.
Though it wasn’t perfect, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache accomplished what it obviously set out to do; to be menacing and destructive. The Body‘s depressive, stripped-down doom collided head-on with Full of Hell‘s grinding fury for most of record’s unyielding half-hour of hate, resulting in some very interesting and punishing moments. Because of the critical acclaim its predecessor received, the release of Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is not at all surprising. This new work of noise continues to show the bands’ attempts to blend each other’s sounds with a diverse array of influences into a wholly unique piece of music.
One of the “issues” with One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache is that it failed to meld both bands’ sounds on some of the tracks, which is what one would expect from a collaborative album. There were some moments where the band would opt for a more The Body-type approach or a more Full of Hell-type approach, rather than combine their respective styles into one like most of the other cuts succeeded in doing. Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light seems to have learned from its predecessor’s mistakes in that regard and presents a seamless blend of both bands’ body of work.
The first half of this record is absolutely crushing and arresting. Glitching electronic chirps open up the album on “Light Penetrates” and arrange themselves in a bizarre parody of melody. Thunderous drumming gives way to sprawling doom and gloom that is propelled by Chip King’s pain-stricken wail and Dylan Walker’s venomous growl. Extra layers of noise and instrumentation are gradually introduced as the song crawls along, making for complete cacophonous bliss.
“Earth is a Cage” weaves together grinding death metal riffs with pulsating, electronic percussion throughout its bombastic duration. The dissonant grind occasionally breaks suddenly for earsplitting noise and ambient dirges, only for the distorted hell to return abruptly and throttle listeners. “The King Laid Bare” and “Didn’t the Night End” are hellacious slow-burners in which The Body‘s menace and Full of Hell‘s sonic grit combine effortlessly in the songs’ more “organic” instrumentation, while myriads of noisy atmospheres, synths and industrial rhythms make everything more strange and sonically abusive.
The second half of the record is populated by even stranger, slower and more diverse tracks, but also serves as the weak point of the album. Tracks like “Our Love Conducted with Shields Aloft” feature long stretches of foreboding, scathing sound that are spearheaded by erratic, head-spinning drumming (courtesy of Lighting Bolt‘s Brian Chippendale) and King’s infamous shriek. Tracks like “Master’s Story” also conjure lengthy sections of blood-chilling noise and psychotic soundscapes, but also feature oddly danceable, reggaetón-inspired rhythms that will keep listener’s head bobbing while their ears are bleeding.
But while these tracks feature some of the more diverse influences and elements on the entire record, the songs tend to fall prey to meandering paces and fail to be engaging at times. There are lot of standout moments, such as Chippendale’s contributions, the jungle beats of “Master’s Story” and the brooding ambiance of “I Did Not Want to Love You So”. But more often than not the songs’ pacing and derivative approach make the bulk of the second half rather uninteresting. Though there are a lot of nuances here, they tend to get lost in the band’s tendency to create huge, cacophonous walls of sound.
Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light succeeds triumphantly where its predecessor did not, but falls a bit short at the same time. The first half of the record is the perfect blend both acts’ sounds and penchant for weirdness. The second half of the record gets props for its experimentation with a vast array of styles and sounds, but is ultimately marred by its issues with pacing and tedious song structure. Regardless of its flaws it is still a very unique piece of music and one that diehard fans of both bands will enjoy immensely.
Release Date: November 17, 2017
Label: Thrill Jockey Records
Favorite Tracks: “Earth Is a Cage” and “Didn’t the Night End”