Pain and Absolution: A Review of Thou and The Body’s Collaboration

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When I was nine-years-old, the state of Colorado was engulfed in a massive blizzard. Airports and highways were completely shut down. Power lines collapsed under the weight of accumulating ice. Infrastructure was crippled state-wide. Vehicles were abandoned as citizens tried to return home on foot in the freezing weather. Many never made it. It was one of the deadliest and most severe blizzards in the history of the state, one that witnesses will likely never forget.

To my childish eyes, though, it was a wintry spectacle of wonder. I played with my friends and threw snow balls. I laughed and rolled in the snow. At many points during those two days in October, I simply stared out at the snow, mesmerized by the frolicking particles of ice dancing in the air. I found joy in the same situation in which others found pain. Such is the way of this world.

Mother nature has a primal majesty and terror all her own. Fickle and temperamental, she doles out destruction and life as she sees fit. Just as the falling rain brings forth growth and plenty in the parched throat of the Sahara, it causes deadly flash floods and untold damage in the rugged southwest of the United States. Fury and beauty are intermingled in a bizarre and captivating symbiotic waltz that deals impartially with all of Earth’s denizens. All things, good and bad, are epitomized in the natural forces of our paltry little ball of mud hurtling through space.

Here in the southern plains of the United States, we bear witness to some of the most extreme and volatile weather patterns anywhere in the nation. In the span of a year we can and will see hail, snow, freezing temperatures, ice storms, flash floods, dust storms, tornadoes, scorching heat, and relentless, prevailing wind. Always the wind blows, bringing both blessing and curse to the farmers eking out a living on this dusty firmament. These brutal weather patterns are caused by the warm coastal air from the Gulf of Mexico confronting the cold mountain drafts tumbling over the Rockies. It’s a spontaneous and unpredictable concoction that can and will wreak havoc on the best-laid plans of men.

If art reflects reality, then, it stands to reason that the glory and wrath of nature would manifest in some fashion in the myriad creations we humans craft to make sense of our world. As two dynamic forces combine to form one unrelenting storm here that ruthlessly batters the region I call home, so too do artistic forces sometimes join to put forth a devastating effort. Released from Love/You, Whom I Have Always Hated by the two reigning master of sludge, Thou  and The Body, is a testament to the fickle and insurmountable strength and beauty of our planet’s most powerful cycles. It is a force of nature, both enchanting and devastating, that entrances and punishes, gives and takes, as it sees fit.

At times, this album is a work of aching beauty and feeling, the entire spectrum of human emotion wrought from the painfully gorgeous chords and vocals. Sorrow, loss, love, joy, and grief float and drip from every word of poisonous poetry shrieked by Thou’s vocalist Bryan Funck while hopes, expectations, and fears soar and crash like a snowflake blown about by the howling wind of The Body’s voice, Chip King. The two excellent covers included on this album, “Coward” by the inimitable Vic Chesnutt and “Terrible Lie” by Nine Inch Nails poignantly transcribe fear and loss and rage into a palpable spectacle that seizes you by the heart and mind. Lyrics very rarely matter for metal songs, but when Funck snarls, “Released from guilt, released from pain,” you know there is solace in the heart of the storm. Just as that blizzard I witnessed in  my boyhood was beautiful and deadly, so also is the music on this collaborative effort.

At other times, though, the climactic might of this album is undeniable. Riffs as thick as tar bubble up from out of the ground on tracks “The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills” and “Lurking Fear,” ready to choke all life. Crunching guitars and grumbling bass smash and grind like the fault lines on a tectonic plate, reducing all of man’s technological progress to nothing. Drums rise, build momentum, and collide like tidal waves in a tsunami throughout the album; the rhythm section is content to both flood a track like a slow, steady river or to consume all in a column of treacherous fills and towering crashes like a plague-bearing tidal wave. This is a collaboration that is content to lumber forward like a crawling conflagration or to strike with incomprehensible bursts of speed like lightning, as on the deadly “Her Strongholds Unvanquishable.” Through it all, the combined weight of the two-pronged vocal assault erodes and grinds like a steady, frost-bitten wind from the frozen north. Listen to King’s unrelenting wail on “Beyond the Realms of Dream, the Fleeting Shade under the Corpus of Van” and be reduced to dust.

As expected, both bands bring something special to the mix. Thou bring the treacherous and shifting quicksand of a genre born in the swamps and murk of New Orleans. Muddy, dirty, and gritty, they utilize a shifting low-end assault on the album that threatens to consume even the most steadfast of song structures. The Body bring a much more adventurous, and at times, daring element to the sound, like a freak lightning storm illuminating the afternoon sky with flourishes of brilliance and unexpected light. The two together act as catalysts for each other, resulting in an album that at times erupts with thick metallic riffs and choking, unrelenting clouds of black, ashy distortion that never really clear. Swelling feedback continually dumps ash on every track, blocking the sun and only allowing hints of hopeful light to glimmer through on select songs. At other moments, in the stillness between eruptions, the sustained notes and ponderous drum tattoos flow like a slow-moving channel of lava just beneath the Earth’s surface. The pace is the album is slower more often than not, but even amid those dreaded arctic ice floes can be found a shimmering aurora if you simply take the time to look.

Although this album is decidedly worthy of praise, it is not without its faults. The temperamental shifts leave some tracks more dire than others, resulting in a few critical songs that may receive more play than others. This slight unsteadiness could be caused by the greater issue with this otherwise stellar album. At times on the album, as in nature, one of the two forces in the reaction overwhelms and dominates the other. Some songs sound simply like a product of The Body or Thou and shine less with the genius spark of collaboration. Lastly, it would have been nice to hear more original tracks, despite the two covers both standing tall as excellent reinventions. Alas, not all snowflakes are breathtaking in their beauty and originality.

When I first listened to this album, I thoroughly enjoyed it, although it felt that something was lost in translation. It wasn’t until I was driving home in the dark through a snow storm late last week that things fell into context. This album moves and shakes with the pains of Mother Earth heaving forth a splendid and wretched creation. It is as beautiful and hideous as the devastating snow storm I remember as a child. It is a force of nature, and like any natural structure found in creation, it is a sight to behold in its own imperfection. At times, this album amounts to nothing more than the sum of its parts. At other times, though, it is peerless and undeniable, reminding us with its litany of pained hymns that we are human and nothing in the grand scheme of time. The wheel continues to turn, and I look forward to seeing how this art evolves.

NO FLUSH

Be sure to pick up the album tomorrow from Thrill Jockey and give both bands likes on Facebook.

(Photos VIA, VIA, VIA, and VIA)

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  • Edward/Breegrodamus

    I’m going to purchase this album, whatever the cost.

    • DDubya.

      It isn’t very expensive, duder.

      • Edward/Breegrodamus

        What are we talking here Dubya?

        • DDubya.

          Click the Thrill Jockey link 😉

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            I will, I will, Real life adult work things were happening.

  • I thought the article read more like a graceful poem than an album review.

    *wipes tear*

    Fine work!

    GL

  • It’s weird to me that this super dark/heavy/sludgy band is using a Wheel of Time quote for their song title

    • DDubya.

      The lyrics leads me to believe that both songs are literary men.

      • Well, the entire idea of the wheel of time, which is based on eastern religions (don’t remember which one specifically right now), is based on the repetition of history, and change to break from the repetition of history. I could go deeper, but that would be spoiler prone. The last line, “I see an end” is very relevant to the Wheel of Time series in a way

        • DDubya.

          Well, both Hinduism (and Buddhism by extension) are based on the wheel of Samsara and reincarnation, so that could be it.

          • Yup, that one. Jordan even went so far as to name the “satan” character Shaitan. He likes his eastern religions.

          • BLXKKBEXRD

            Finished the prequel. Makes me like Moiraine even more

          • I’m new. About halfway through the first book.

          • BLXKKBEXRD

            You are in for one long journey. Jordan can get a little wordsome at points, like Tolkien. Don’t let the setting and background exposition bog you down or deter you

          • The first 5 or 6 chapters were pretty painfully boring, but it’s picked up since then. I’m enjoying it. Elyas is the man.

          • yeah the first 5 chapters were potentially the most boring i’ve ever read in a book ever, but the further I’ve gotten into the series and watching Rand develop, I honestly miss those first 5 chapters in a nostalgic way. Jordan has a way of making you emphasize and feel deeply for his characters. Sometimes. Then sometimes you want to slap sense into them

          • You will do well.

          • Moiraine >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

          • BLXKKBEXRD

            I’d hit that Carheinien booty

        • BLXKKBEXRD

          It made my nerd senses tingle.

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

      That’s a good book series.

    • BLXKKBEXRD

      Thou, as I’ve harped on before, have always had poignant lyrics. That and there was dnd references galore

      • I’m starting up my first DnD game ever soon. We’re playing Pathfinder, I’m rolling an arcane bloodline sorcerer

        • BLXKKBEXRD

          Good on ya, warrior

          • DDubya.

            I tried DnD for the first time last summer. I was playing as one of those crystal beings. We only played two sessions because the guy hosting got a girlfriend.

          • Liar. Dungeon Masters don’t get girlfriends.

          • DDubya.

            Did you have to drop that dungeon master game so you could attract Masterlady’s attention?

          • “I’m not marrying a fucking nerd!”

          • Tyree
          • I might be joining my boss and his wife in their next DnD campaign. His wife is the Dungeon Master, lulz.

          • DDubya.

            Nice! My wife plays board games like Catan and Dominion with me, but she decided DnD was a bit much, haha.

          • My gf pretty much forced me to buy Dominion for her after we played it with her family. She goes nuts over board games.

          • DDubya.

            Dominion is a lot of fun and is a great alternative to when you don’t have 3 hours for Cities and Knights (I can’t play vanilla Catan now).

        • Spear

          Pathfinder is excellent, if for no other reason than that it’s all free.

    • J.R.

      And when the final battle comes to pass
      The horn will sound across the land
      And fallen heroes will arise to fight
      To stand against the dark one’s hand
      Tears will flow like the rain
      The dragon’s blood will spill and stain
      There will be war and pain
      In the end, though, the light will remain

      Dragon Reborn, by Noble Beast

      Chills every time. Carai an Duadhe Dal!

  • Will listening to this album offset the fact that I’m literally about to be buried in 2 ft of snow? #DeathToWinter

  • Tyree
  • BLXKKBEXRD

    My vinyl should be here today! That was a lot of exposition, W, but it was good. I’m as excited about getting this in the mail as I will be for any this year.

    • DDubya.

      I was a bit worried my extended allegory would be off-putting, but when a parallel clicks in my mind for a piece of music, I can’t ignore the connection.

      • BLXKKBEXRD

        U dun gud

        • DDubya.

          Takk

  • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

    This was a good article.

    • DDubya.

      Thanks, dude.

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

        You’re welcome.

  • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

    I would like to Flush this album to the lowest pits beneath hell. If only for that cover art being Grandly, Morbidly Funerary.

  • DDubya.

    Reviewing an album just doesn’t feel the same without KSOFM telling me he dislikes it in the comments.

    • Don’t be such a cunting lifelover.

      KSOFM

      Listen to real metal.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Sb46VD5CmA

      • DDubya.

        Thanks, man. I needed that.

        • <3 I think I captured the tone, right?

          GL

          • DDubya.

            You nailed it. All feels right now. I need some sort of negativity to keep me humble.

      • conan = KSOFM

        zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

        • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

          I like Conan better.

          • you….. nevermind 🙂

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            He does like me much more than KSOFM ever did. On the subject of bro metal did any of you hear about the Slipknot summer tour announced today with Lamb Of God and two shitty bands? I’d go for Lamb Of God exclusively.

          • i am actually interested in that! there’s one stop in my town. and though i don’t like much of Slipknot or LOG, i still appreciate their work and both are fun live!

          • The Bestest Tapir

            I prefer KSOFM

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            KSOFM never liked me.

          • The Bestest Tapir

            I hate Conan a lot more than KSOFM.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            I like Conan a lot more because he likes me.

      • Now we feel like we’re in family again

      • Akercocke ov Steele

        (Destroys living room)

    • Edward/Breegrodamus

      This is one of the best reviews / articles / posts on this site yet.

      • DDubya.

        You mean that?

        • Edward/Breegrodamus

          Sincerely.

          • DDubya.

            Awwwwwww.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus

            Next time I review an album (the hardest form of writing) I’m going to aim for these levels of grandeur.

        • SUPREME HONOR FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!

          GL

  • Tyree

    Anyone else get hammered with snow. There is a good 10 inches here. Lot of cars in the ditches on the way to work this morning.

    • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

      Wanna change?

      • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

        Why would you want to change?

        • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

          I have grey bleakness, further than the eye can see.

          • The Bestest Tapir

            That’s what you get for living near Helsinki (or should I say Shitsinki)!

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            So it seems. FML and Flush hesastadi

          • The Bestest Tapir

            You should move your hairy ass to Real Finland.

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            I used to live there, but no one would employ me

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Parempi työttömänä ja paskan peitossa kuin asua Helsingissä.

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Emmie ny tuosta tiiä. Kaikki keikakki o tiällä

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Tule pohjois-karjalaan, jossa ryssät lentää ja rasismi kukoistaa!

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Kotiseudulle pohjois-karjalaan, vaihdan farkut verkkarihousuun…

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Täysin paska laulu

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            EIKÄ OO

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Kyllä näin on. Pelkkää paskaa!

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            EI OO. Leevi oli kova!

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Ja paskat

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Kyllä, näin on. Kova oli.

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Haaaista paska! On se nyt vittu kun Pekka Siitoin tulee hyppimään nokille!

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Mitä höpäjät siittimestä?
            (Kuuntelin itteasiassa just aamulla biisiä missä laulettiin Siitoimesta)

          • The Bestest Tapir

            En ole yllättynyt.

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Emmie tienny et siin laulettaisiin Siitoimesta. Se oli ylläripylläri

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Olihan tuo aika hieno huumor mies. Liekkö ollu tosissaan, hullu, vaiko vitun hyvä trolli?

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Tavallaan toivon että trolli.

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Vitutaskohan Siitointa jos tietäis, että Kai Aalto on nykysin kristitty?

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            Kai sillä vähän kihisis.

          • Nordling Rites ov Kahlua

            And more importantly, all the gigs are here.

    • DDubya.

      Our snow storm hit us last week, but we only got a few inches.

    • Scrimm

      Yep It’s so deep here I can’t open the front door.

    • KJM

      We’re expecting between 18-24″.

      • Tyree

        Damn!

        • KJM

          Yep. I won’t be able to leave my house tomorrow no matter what.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            My area is expecting the same amount of snow. I’m sure that my power will go out and I’ll be unable to comment here.

          • Black Vomit

            And the whole world applauded.

          • Hey, dont be a dick.

            GL

          • DDubya.

            We give each other the razz, but we do so as friends.

          • We do? I thought we did it as sweaty, naked combatants in a Gladiatorial arena ala Conan The Barbarian.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            Stupid troll should leave before he gets banned.

          • KJM

            Don’t make me show you my strong pimp hand, bioootch.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            Go fuck yourself with a giant cactus.

          • cosigned!

            GL

          • is the Tapir done with it??

          • The Bestest Tapir

            Fuck off Jim-Jim

          • You are so sexy when you lay down the law!

          • if you can’t comment, i’ll carry the taco bell torch!

          • BLXKKBEXRD

            DEATH TO TACO FALSO

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            I had some Taco Bell today. It was good.

          • I am all about Taco Bell of late. Those crunch wrap supremes are mind blowing!

            GL

          • lawd i am too. drunk McNulty can’t pass up $1 spicy tostadas!

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            They have Crunchwrap Sliders for a dollar and they are so good.

          • honest question: do you have it every day?

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            No. I eat it often though.

          • We’ll keep the Taco-Copter on standby for you!

          • Tyree

            I’d say so duder.

          • KJM

            Fortunately I live in a busy urban area so we’ll be dug out sooner than most.

          • Tyree
          • MAKE SURE TO BUY BEER AND TOILET PAPER.

            GL

          • Tyree

            These are critical things.

          • YES, THEY ARE TWO THINGS ONE MUST NEVER RUN OUT OF.

            GL

          • KJM

            In my situation it’s more like herbs, soda, and tp: all taken care of.

    • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

      My area is expecting 18-24 inches.

    • Getting shit on with 2ft tonight. I’ll pretend to work tomorrow while playing GTA V all day.

    • Spear

      It’s been snowing since 4AM here. I’m afraid to look outside.

    • Not even sure if it’s gonna hit here in Southeast VA, haven’t read anything on it ever getting past DC.

  • Tyree
    • Scrimm

      She’s badass.

      • DDubya.

        Agreed.

        • Tyree

          I agree with your agreement.

          • Gurptitude

            I find this post very agreeable.

          • Tyree

            Agreed.

      • DDubya.

        Ey Scrimm. Band name idea. Lady Silence.

        • Scrimm

          Could work, depending.

          • DDubya.

            Needs to be some real cold music.

          • Scrimm

            Definitely. Atmosphere is paramount.

    • DDubya.

      Tyree, you like The Body, right? I wish a bit more of their style shone through in the final product.

      • Tyree

        Yeah dude. I got I Shall Die Here on vinyl. I need to listen to this collaboration still. I heard one song and really dug it.

        • DDubya.

          The full album is both collabs combined. Chip’s vocals on Beyond the Realms of Dream, the Fleeting Shade under the Corpus of Van sound gnarly as hell as he just screams over the main riff and vocals for a long time.

      • BLXKKBEXRD

        If it was more the body than thou I wouldn’t like it as much. Sludge >drone. Fight me

        • DDubya.

          I shan’t fight you. I think Thou are rock-solid sludge, but I like the more unconventional things The Body do a bit more.

    • Akercocke ov Steele
  • The End
    • DDubya.

      Hey man, in case you don’t know this, you matter.

  • Akercocke ov Steele

    Seeing as how we’re on a winter theme today https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZllceJIc7jM

  • Tyree

    I know some of you liked the Triptykon album from last year. I tried to listen to it this weekend for the first time, I have to say that I was pretty damn bored with it.

    • DDubya.

      I dug it, but I get where KSOFM was coming from with it. The riffs more or less drop out after the first few songs, and you’re left with just sustained notes of distortion.

      • Tyree

        It’s sort of a shame, that album is produced very well. Everything sounds so crisp. All well, I sort of figured I would not be too impressed.

        • DDubya.

          There’s one track on there that has very minimal guitar work, but the caveman drums are gnarly as hell. Demon Pact.

          • Tyree

            Yeah, I think I know which one you are talking about. The drums sound incredible!

          • DDubya.

            Seriously, that huge booming sound is perfect.

    • i like the fast songs on it. but i am not a doom fan anyways

  • Story time:

    I sit in a cube at work, a group of four separate cubes to be exact. The cube is not that bad… I have floor to ceiling windows to look out of! Anyway, two of the four cubes are empty and I have a guy in another group that sits diagonally from me. This guy never makes any noise/sounds/nothing. It is incredible. I know he is capable of making sound i.e clicking/typing/answeringcalls because I can hear him when he does that. But, 98% of every day is silence. SILENCE. So, I have taken up not holding my farts in. I just let them rip. I know he has to hear them. Why do this? Because he never ever ever says a word to me ever. Not when passing in the hallway – nothing. He stone cold ignores me every time. I am not sure what I am trying to achieve with this… but…. I will let you know if something other than nothing happens.

    GL

    • Edward/Breegrodamus

      EDITORS PLEASE LET GL DO A BLOG POST ABOUT THIS

      Edward / ND / BD

      • BLXKKBEXRD

        The Life & Times of George Lynch

        • Corey Tay Tay

          That would be a great book.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            OT but do you like Bullet For My Valentine? I honestly don’t see the big deal about them besides being mediocre radio rock.

          • Corey Tay Tay

            Not so much, but I agree with you.
            After getting into more heavy music I stopped listening to them.
            Same thing with BVB.

        • preordered.

    • DDubya.

      I have my own little office now, and I have to remind myself that I don’t have to hold my farts in.

    • you and @linkleonhart:disqus have some cray co-workers!

    • Corey Tay Tay

      I have a feeling that I would be that guy.

      • The guys shitting his pants? or the silent guy? lolz

        GL

        • Corey Tay Tay

          Lol, the silent guy.

          • Janitor Jim Dvggan Svre Wovld

            I’d be the loud guy.

    • That quiet guy sounds frightening, like he’s gonna go ‘Falling Down’ in the middle of a shift one day!

  • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

    Very nice, especially the mad-thing wooly wailing. And the way it starts nasty and then really gets digging. I feel this may have to join my collection before too long.

    • DDubya.

      The high-pitched shrieks are one of my favorite parts of the music.

      • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

        I feel like the weird shriek is one of the hardest shrieks, its great to hear someone pull it off.

        • BLXKKBEXRD

          It’s my favorite blackened wail

          • frozengoatsheadupanunsarse

            I enjoy blackened wailing in general too much to be able to have a favourite.

  • Renan Ribeiro

    No words to describe how great this review was. Excellent flow from start to finish, thought provoking.
    Congratulations, Pres.

    • DDubya.

      Thank you, my friend!

  • Stockhausen

    I wanted to review this album, but it would have amounted to “Thing, much as of being good thing. Put thing in listen” next to this review. Great work.

    • DDubya.

      Thanks, Stocky!

  • RustyShackleford

    Super late on this, but I love what I’m hearing. Never listened to either Thou or The Body so I’m gonna check them out before I go for this. Thanks Dubya!

    • DDubya.

      You’re welcome, Rusty. Yup!

  • The review alone makes me wanna listen to Moonsorrow and listen to them talking about nature squashing people and civilizations like little piles of wet poo. Beautifully written, Supreme Leader Of America!

    • DDubya.

      Thank you, Supreme Leader of Best Korea!