There’s a fine line between consistency and stagnation, especially with a sophomore album. Whether an artist offers too much of the same or does a complete about-face, both approaches can easily turn off early listeners. After such a strong debut like last year’s Mental Wounds Not Healing, it’s a relief to see that Uniform and The Body have continued fostering their complementary styles of punishing industrial experimentation. In the process, both groups have crafted some of their most intriguing songs yet, making for a well-rounded and sonically pushing affair on Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back.
Much of the album is still lead by Uniform vocalist Michael Berdan, who comes out of the gate swinging on “Gallows in Heaven.” His punky yell adds a coating of angst to the anxiety-inducing beat, constructed from pulsating noise and a pounding, distorted bass drum. It’s both adrenaline-pumping and subdued at the same time, causing a conflicted feeling of dread and aggression. “Not Good Enough” increases the intensity tenfold, with Berdan leaning more into spoken word atop heavy, Merzbow-leaning noise.
As suddenly as the group establishes a theme, they execute a seamless pivot into fresh territory. “Vacancy” opens with a danceable, electro-industrial beat that sounds like a much darker New Order. The entire track remains mostly distorted and restrained, with Berdan and The Body vocalist Chip King taking turns bellowing from the synthetic murk. Though not as dance-worthy, “Patron Saint of Regret” continues the unique proceedings in a major way. Industrial black metal tremolos slip into mystical trip-hop, complete with wispy female vocals and sharp, twinkling synths.
Towards the end of the album, the group leans a bit more into the “rock” side of their sound. “All This Bleeding” churns and contorts with the melancholy of post-punk and goth, while “Day of Atonement” harkens back to Justin Broadrick‘s most hip-hop obsessed days with Godflesh. “Waiting for the End of the World” is a fittingly apocalyptic dark ambient track, though album closer “Contempt” is the whacked-out, noisy, percussion-heavy conclusion the album deserves.
Unfortunately, we now come to the part of the review that will make me sound like a broken record. As I’ve stated before, King’s shrill, buried shrieks are the epitome of an acquired taste. His vocals have consistently kept me on the cusp of enjoying several Body albums; these projects with Uniform and The Body’s solo album I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer are the only releases where I can mostly tolerate his vocals. I’m sure this isn’t an issue for a significant number of listeners, but for me, his vocals are a consistent distraction and detriment to the albums he appears on. He and his bandmate Lee Buford have consistently made some of the best drone, industrial, and experimental releases in modern underground music under The Body name. Unfortunately, that’s due in no part to King’s vocals.
Despite this, Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back is still one of the most noteworthy industrial releases of the year and further proof that Uniform and The Body thrive in the studio together. Anyone seeking a creative, heavily noisy take on the genre now has two excellent albums that achieve just that. There’s clearly still room to grow for this collaboration, and hopefully, the next installment arrives just as quickly as this sophomore outing.
Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back is available Aug. 16 via Sacred Bones Records.