Tuesday 13 January 2015

The Body / Thou - You, Whom I Have Always Hated (Album Review)

The Body & Thou 'You, Whom I Have Always Hated' Artwork

Album Type: Full-length
Date Released: January 27, 2014
Label: Thrill Jockey

You, Whom I Have Always Hated – track listing

1. The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills*
2. Manifest Alchemy*
3. In Meetings Hearts Beat Closer*
4. Coward (Vic Chesnutt cover)*
5. Her Strongholds Unvanquishable
6. The Devils of Trust Steal the Souls of the Free
7. Terrible Lie (Nine Inch Nails cover)
8. Beyond the Realms of Dream, That Fleeting Shade Under the Corpus of Vanity
9. He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity
10. Lurking Fear

Note: Tracks 1-4 were previously released as a vinyl only exclusive, Released From Love.

Band Members

The Body is:

Lee Buford – Drums
Chip King – Guitar & Vocals

Thou is:

Mitch Wells – Bass
Andy Gibbs – Guitar
Matthew Thudium – Guitar
Bryan Funck – Vocals
Josh Nee – Drums


Like fellow Sludgelord contributor Andy Burke, I came to the collaborative efforts of The Body and Thou without listening to the sprawling output of either group. If nothing else, this release has showed me that I need to remedy that as soon as possible. Distinctly not a split, You, Whom I Have Always Hated is a new album featuring input from all members of both American sludge behemoths, fresh on the heels of the vinyl only Released From Love – collected here as the first four tracks. Since Andy already provided a stellar review for that album, and because tracks 5 through 10 distinctly feel like a separate entity, I’ll only be reviewing the new tracks here.

You, Whom I Have Always Hated has all the hallmarks of classic sludge: squealing, corrosive guitars; punishing, shredded vocals; aggressive, sometimes tribal drumming. You can practically hear each time the audio levels push into the red, each moment the group sounds like it may tear itself apart. With both groups fully engaged in the process, the resulting chaos feels all the more disturbing, while the moments of cohesion are that much more breathtaking. Both the epic sprawl of the 7-minute plus “Her Strongholds Unvanquishable” and the concise thrash of two-minute “The Devils of Trust Steal the Souls of the Free” highlight the sheer range of this true supergroup, and the experimentation that sets them apart from their sludge cohorts.

Strangely enough, it’s a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Terrible Lie” that proves a crucial centerpiece of the release. An industrial undercurrent that runs through all six tracks suddenly becomes codified with the track – all the sounds of rattling steel, buzzing circuits, and mechanical chaos suddenly makes sense thematically. If Reznor’s original “Terrible Lie” is steeped in the nihilistic but sexy beats of cyberpunk dystopia, The Body and Thou’s sadistic reconfiguration of the song flays all sensuality from the number, retaining the nihilism but depicting a post-human, nuclear apocalypse.

The final two tracks, “He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity” and “Lurking Fear”, really serve as an apotheosis of the collaboration. “He Returns…” is a near-ambient exploration of sound and tone, leading to the final assault of “Lurking Fear.” An obvious nod to master of the anti-human, H.P. Lovecraft, the violence and bleakness become their own sort of horrific sublime, where terror stretches into infinity.

It’s exceptionally rare that an album, or a work of art for that matter, can effectively convey terror, but throughout this release I was struggling to think of comparable works of art and kept returning to masters of horror fiction: Poe, Lovecraft, Thomas Ligotti. Like each of these authors, The Body and Thou manage to create concise, compact stories of horror, which, when collected, should be seen as guidebooks to human terror and masterworks of nuanced, unbridled genius.

Words by Mark Ambrose

Thanks to Thrill Jockey Records for the promo. You, Whom I Always Hated is released on CD/DD/Vinyl from Jan 26th 2015 from Thrill Jockey Records.

For More Information

The Body