If you’ve been reading Bleak Metal for a while (in which case, wow, thank you) then you may remember my End of Year list from, well, the end of last year. Now, I spoke a lot there about how terrible 2013 had been in a lot of respects, the biggest being that pretty soon I would be out of a job. That happened, and it sucked but y’know, I’m so bloody glad about it. Because losing that job meant that I got to do something hecka cool this summer – I went to America and attended Gilead Fest. And holy crap, it was brilliant. At that festival I saw friendly internet faces, bands I never thought I’d get to see (two of which I will talk about below) and I saw up close the passion and commitment that one of my favourite labels has for the community. I reviewed the event for Subterranea/Metal Hammer and you can see it here.
I also met some lovely people, two of whom were Bettina and Jonathan from Thrill Jockey Records who then put me in touch with Ken from the UK side. Since then Ken has sent some excellent works, a few of which I will now talk about because no one wants to hear me bang on about myself and the music is much more interesting.
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The Body // Sandworm – Split
The Body and Sandworm have quite the history together with Ben Eberle of Sandworm contributing his voice to recent The Body output as well as his bandmate Pat Reilly also lending his skills on the viola to The Body’s All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood. The two bands headed out on tour together recently and also found some time to create and release a raging split LP.
Here The Body contribute only one song, but when that track is sixteen minutes long, you can truly let yourself fall into the structures and noises that the two-piece create. “The Manic Fire” shifts and changes often during its running time with harsh sounds giving way to gentle choral-style vocals that hide Chip King’s instantly recognisable screeches beneath while gorgeous keys push the track forward on a wave of sadness. The Body are consistently one of the most inventive and interesting bands out there and with “The Manic Fire” each facet to their sound is explored. From the slow, sludgy grime that ushers in the next stage to the martial drums of Lee Buford and the overwhelming electronic glitches and pulses that the band use to warp reality. Stuttering beats change the pace and up the tension further with claustrophobic feedback entering the fray and cloying vocals dredging horrific depths in order to get under the skin and evoke a tangible feeling of complete misery. It’s filthy, fraught and honestly terrifying at times.
Sandworm’s side of the split spans more or less the same length of time as The Body’s, yet this duo create an altogether different kind of noise. Black metal in tone and aesthetic, Sandworm’s tracks are furious in their pace and the vocals spat out by Ben Eberle (also guitars) are raw, coarse and ravaged and lend the ten tracks they showcase here a fiery urgency. Blasting drums from Pat Reilly create a constantly moving framework that Sandworm proceed to raze to the ground. Punk-led riffs permeate “Desert Warfare” and “Gestalt Dreams” hits hard, fast and nastily, occasionally slowing down oh, so slightly in order to inject a little groove into the proceedings. “Amid” closes out the split with lightning quick blasts and a hell of a kick.
Oozing Wound – Earth Suck
Oozing Wound use a generous amount of humour within their thrash in order to get through the absolute bullshit that life can throw at you. Sometimes you’ve just gotta laugh at the absurdities that come up every day and the Chicago-based trio certainly have that manifesto locked tight – the record is called Earth Suck after all.
“Going Through The Motions Til I Die” begins Earth Suck and immediately sets out the foundations that the band builds its sound on. Grooved guitars sift through Zack Weil’s hoarse voice and Oozing Wound lay out terrifically bounding riffs that work their way through each song and lift the record to headbanging heights. “Hippie Speedball” comes along on a slowed down tempo that soon gives way to frantic beats and sludged out moments that coat the track in suitably filthy layers of dirt.
“When The Walls Fell” begins on doomy progressions and alarm-like sounds that introduce a track that wails and pounds with utter vitriol in its vocal stance and its aggressive drums which never falter despite the constant motion of the song that is built around the beat. “False Peak (Earth Suck)” finishes up the record on huge thrashy waves of sound that never let up on the intensity that the band have showcased so far. Massive motions of guitar are wrought with anger and Kyle Reynolds’ drum work adds a forceful drive to the latter moments of the track. Earth Suck is loud, heavy and most importantly, bloody damn good. Oozing Wound are ones to watch.
You can purchase these releases plus other excellent titles from Thrill Jockey on internet.