Body Void have all-but settled in as one of extreme music’s elite with their benchmark-setting heaviness, unloading a similar combination of formidable tone, power, and structure as genre heavyweights Primitive Man and Loss. Of course the sludge/doom format lends itself well to aural sadism and tone simping, but it’s also the perfect stage for precisely the kinds of uniquely distraught lyricism these bands employ. Slow tempos coerce listeners to fixate on the power of a single word as much as they do a single distorted note, making it an ideal vehicle for the dismal, taxing, and cathartic topics these artists often reflect upon. With their first handful of releases, Body Void have been quick to make a name for themselves, offering a unique introspective approach that pairs exceedingly well with their weighty instrumentation. But as it is in this genre, the slow and low needs a little tinkering as time goes on, and I was specifically curious to see where this band would go after hearing the first single. So, let’s take a gander.
Willow Ryan (vocals, guitars) and Eddie Holgerson (drums) return with their signature downtrodden, pancaking sludge riddled with uproars of blackened, crust punk mania, playing to the extremes of their sound as strongly as ever. Lyrically, Ryan finds a sense of urgency with a more political focus. Written over the summer of 2020, it certainly makes sense that they’ve shifted from more inward-looking topics, and it’s great. Tackling topics like colonialism, capitalism and climate change, Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth feels much more pointed, energetic, and pissed than anything they’ve done before, and it leads much of the “new” feel of this album. Ryan’s delivery is often steeped in such disgust that they can be pretty tough to understand, but the lyrics continue to be well-written, so keep those on hand.
BMBTRE achieves even greater potency from bending the familiar suffocating structures into new, compacted forms. Trimming the often 15-minute-plus runtimes by a couple minutes may not seem like a significant change, but they really seem to hit the sweet spot on this album; each track is still built upon laborious and gargantuan riffing, but pivots to blastbeat-driven segments and back are more whiplashing and physical than ever. The more economical approach makes the arrangements feel a little busier and erratic, too, with noise and electronics adding a welcome new dimension without diluting the core sound, akin to the doom/noise of Batillus, but not quite as industrial-tinged. Shifts from punishing sludge to atmospheric blackened doom and momentum gathering d-beat are well-planned, possibly enough to wake up those who find this style to be a little drowsy. It’s got tangible zip compared to the Body Void albums of yesteryear.
In “Wound,” electronics crackle and spit amidst the indifferent, rubble-generating waves of overpowering riffitude, making their presence known by cutting in and out of the desolate sonicscape like frayed, sparking wires. Throughout, they excel at creating a sense of place and identity, each of the four tracks has their landmark moments and feel – it’s really vibrant for a doom record. “Laying Down In A Forest Fire” finds a haunting clearing of tremolos before somehow snowballing deathdoom ’n’ roll into caustic d-beat into blackened sludge. “Fawn” erupts with gigantic strides of walloping amplitude accentuated by beefy drums that sound like they’re being hit with 2x4s, while “Pale Man” is essentially a doom/sludge version of “Run to the Hills,” that precipitously builds up in intensity and oppressiveness to one of the album’s best cutaways to a righteous punky pace and utterly crushing volume.
There’s just so much intensity on this record, from their cunning segues right down to the anticipation hinging in each measured, backbreaking blast. Overall, BMBTRE is an encouraging evolution for the band. It’s essentially a more accessible version of what they’ve always done, just distilled into a more reasonable package. So yeah, nothing to see here, just some of the best, absolutely fucking flattening doom out there with even more replayability. Get your neighbors some earplugs, they’ll need ‘em, too.