No One Deserves Happiness, what a title for an album. It practically screams cheery, rainbow and sunshine filled afternoons spent out picnicking with the family while the dog does something stupid off to the side like eat a pile of its own crap. Ah yes, it certainly creates a warm, fuzzy feeling deep in the center of your chest that just reverberates through out your entire body until warm and fuzzy is all you can ever feel.
However, despite what the name implies, No One Deserves Happiness is NOT the warm, fuzzy Rom-Com soundtrack we all thought it might be, instead proving itself to be a strange, savage piece of music that fits somewhere between the usual output of The Body and a Rihanna album. It is odd in all the best ways, a true testament of counter-counter-culture, perfect for listening to while lurking in a basement somewhere with the lights off, refusing to shower, refusing to use even a smidgeon of deodorant for fear that it may actually attract someone of the opposite sex. Yes, this album is nasty, a true central pillar in a world of grime, but oddly enough, poppy in the most perverse way possible, a contrast that proves once again that The Body is unafraid to tread where others fear to go, refusing to set trends because the music is abrasive to the point where no one in their right mind would want to copy it. With all of this in mind, enter No One Deserves Happiness, a masterpiece of perverted pop music.
At this point, it is more than likely that as a reader of music publications you are more than a bit sick of hearing writers, as well as the band themselves, describe No One Deserves Happiness as more of a dark pop album than a metal record. Normally, it might even be justified as records that receive as much hype as this one does tend to fall a bit flat when compared to the image created for them. However, on No One Deserves Happiness, The Body not only breaks this mold, but shatters it, showing that when they say they made a twisted, horrific pop record, they actually made a twisted, horrific pop record. The whole thing is awash with drum machines that groove just the right way and could easily be found under any modern pop artist’s grammy nominated, top 100 song. Add to that the bass heavy synth (loaded up with far more reverb and ear splitting fuzz, however), as well as an absolutely stellar female vocalist with a mind numbing range, and you have all the makings of a fantastic modern pop record. The only difference is that when The Body does it far more screaming is involved and it sounds much closer to if Beyoncé made the entire thing while on a bad, mushroom induced trip.
Take, for example, the wonderful second track “Shelter is Illusory.” The drums on that track are absolutely booming, easy to imagine the vibrations pounding in the chest in a setting where the song is being blared loudly, inspiring a healthy bit of dancing. However, despite the overall groove and depth of the drums, The Body is not happy to leave it as a simple dance tune, instead injecting a healthy dose of their trademark power electronic driven doom sound. Merzbeat might be a healthy comparison as to the overall aesthetic, but even Merzbow sacrificed a bit more of his trademark wall noise on that album in favor of a “poppier,” dancier sound that makes it one of the most accessible records in his discography. The Body sacrifices none of their original sound, but simply twists it into an almost entirely new beast, realizing that the perfect way to express the utter darkness and despair of their music is through jarring contrasts create by the overall poppy undertone. It is a bold, ambitious idea that pays off handsomely in very dramatic ways, proving that to the wall extreme metal is not the only way to make a fully abrasive, chilling album.
Further expanding on this idea of contrasts is the dual vocal performances, one delivered by one of the most stellar, impressive vocalists out there, and one delivered by Chip, who sort of just screams (which is meant in the most positive way possible). Both bringing something distinct and unique to the table, helping to play up the other and making the arm hairs truly stand on end as the contrasts get more and more dramatic between the two. “Two Snakes” is a beautiful example of this as Chip’s vocals accompany a dark, dance-y synth/drum machine beat, up until the point where the female vocalist comes in, where he is then left to alternate between his vocal deliveries and hers. The beautiful, expansive cleans provide a sharp contrast to the high pitched, throaty screams and when the two finally come together, overlapping over one another, it creates one of the most chilling moments on the entire album. Had either vocalist been any less confident in their delivery, the battling vocal styles may have simply clashed against one another, unable to find peace, instead of melding like the fucked up peanut butter and jelly they are.
With No One Deserves Happiness, The Body takes their signature abrasive, bizarre sound and shows that they were even more bizarre than you initially believed. It is a record that is rooted in metal, but at the same time is clearly not a metal record, as every track carries far too much of a pop current to even bring to mind a band such as Darkthrone or Entombed. It is chilling in the best way possible, deriving its success from its willingness to tread into new, unexplored territories; jumping in confidently instead of merely laying down the tracks for others to follow on. It is almost unfair for how bizarrely experimental and unique this record is, because it leaves a deep longing for anything else that might compare, an impossible task as it is impossible to emulate. The Body once again prove that extreme music should have no bounds, showing that their creative genius will never be slowed or processed by something as silly as a label like “metal.”
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The Body’s No One Deserves Happiness gets…