The Body’s No One Deserves Happiness: A Review

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On their first non-collaborative album since 2013, No One Deserves Happiness, The Body set out to create the grossest pop album of all time. They cited Beyoncé as an influence on the record. The cover is a pale shade of Sunbather pink, featuring a crude facial drawing of and by one of the members of co-conspirators Full of Hell (their collaboration, One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache, comes out precisely one week later than No One Deserves Happiness). Have The Body, who have spent years walking a narrow tightrope between heavy metal, noise, and electronic music, gone full parody, or did they accomplish their stated mission? To put it quite simply, no, and then yes.

In the world of pop, bombastic production, catchy melodies, huge choruses, and memorable lyrics rule the day. On No One Deserves Happiness, The Body have aimed their trademark sound in that direction; their take on pop music is a gross mutation of pop’s parameters. Some of the tracks on No One Deserves Happiness can realistically be described as “dance” music, but that’s not to say this is easy or light material. These dance tracks are diabolical. It’s apparent that The Body gleaned much more from their collaboration with electronic artist The Haxan Cloak than a stellar release in 2014’s I Shall Die Here, as their own talent to use electronic textures has increased exponentially. Happiness also most prominently features the ethereal female vocals of the Assembly of Light Choir (another longtime collaborative act).

No One Deserves Happiness is likely The Body’s least “metal” album; it has been hard to define this band as strictly a metal band for quite some time. It is a truthful depiction of The Body’s ever-evolving personality, however. This is not a band who are afraid to take chances or push limits. Their trademark sound, Chip King’s ever-present shrieks and Lee Buford’s monstrous militant drumming, melds with synths, programmed drum beats, harsh noise, plus everything else and the kitchen sink. The variety of sounds and stylistic changes is one of its greatest strengths!

“Wanderings”, the album’s first track, sets the tone with a simple drum and cymbal rhythm and haunting singing before adding a horn-like synth, until the track evolves into something reminiscent of The Body’s previous works. “Shelter Is Illusory” (above) picks up the tempo, and features vocals from Humanbeast’s Maralie Armstrong. This first advance single showed just what The Body had been getting up to on the solo end since Christs, Redeemers. The next track, “For You” changes gears entirely; it’s essentially harsh noise with drumming.

thebodynoonedeserveshappiness

The Body | No One Deserves Happiness | Thrill Jockey Records | March 18th, 2016

“Hallow / Hollow” (above) sounds more like The Body than anything we’ve heard yet. It’s big and imposing, with air raid sirens not too far removed from the intro to their Master, We Perish EP. “Hallow / Hollow” is the imposing rumble from the Earth’s core. “Two Snakes”, like “Shelter is Illusory”, continues their take on pop music, and the title is fitting, given its slithering rhythm. “Adamah”, the album’s sixth track and centerpiece, the most accessible song here, goes four minutes without King’s vocals; one could wonder what this means for their future full lengths. “Starving Deserter” comes from the same place sonically as “Hallow / Hollow”, given a cinematic feel from an organ that wouldn’t be out of place during a film’s slow-motion climactic battle scene.

The last trilogy of songs on No One Deserves Happiness are a departure from the pace set before, similar to the wonky finale of last year’s Abyssal Gods (though the music is vastly different). “The Fall and the Guilt” goes another four minutes without Chip’s shrieks. It’s beautiful, cryptic singing and warm static, as the song eventually dissolves. “Prescience”, Happiness’ last proper musical track, opens with an audiobook recording from Suicide by Edouard Lev, describing a familial pathos of violence. The track builds to a triumphant crescendo. “The Myth Arc”, the album’s last “song”, reminds me of the end of last year’s Crowhurst and last year’s Dregs. It’s as much static noise as it is a glacial riff; swap out the hellfire Eugene S. Robinson sermon (from Crowhurst) for the Assembly of Light Choir and you’re almost there. It’s a trick The Body have used before, on their cover of Jane’s Addiction’s “I Would For You” on their Tears of Job EP. It’s a confounding end to a confounding album.

Lee Buford and Chip King are The Body

In a sense, No One Deserves Happiness is a hedonistic affair that finds the band operating on any and every whim they had during its creation. Sludge metal? Synths and dance beats? Harsh noise? They’re all present in measured quantities. I suspect the band’s references to Beyoncé and the grossest pop music were at least partially tongue in cheek, but that doesn’t stop Happiness from being their most outré and adventurous album to date.

 

4.5 of 5 Flaming Toilets ov Hell

TOILETSCALE_4-5_of_5

No One Deserves Happiness is due out March 18th on Thrill Jockey Records. Band promo via

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  • This is my favorite review you’ve ever done Ed. Also, what I’ve heard so far of this record is dope.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      That’s awesome, thanks Joe!

  • Dubs

    Ed, you did great work connecting this record to other pieces of music to anchor it into the reality of heavy music in 2016. Good jorb there, hometar.

  • CyberneticOrganism

    Great review. I really dig the sounds of Shelter Is Illusory, I just can’t for the life of me get past those silly vocals.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Chip King’s shrieking right? I remember when we talked about him playing live, mouth open, tongue out. When I saw The Body open for Neurosis here (two players, not nine) a female friend of mine described them as very one-note. I, of course, did not share her sentiment.

      • CyberneticOrganism

        That’s cool, I totally get their appeal, it’s just that those shrieks remind me of Dave Ryder from Space Mutiny (26 seconds).

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kc34qMgHXV4

        • Dubs

          I want to hear an album from The Body featuring just Wilhelm Screams and whale sounds.

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          hahahahaha

        • /totaldank

    • King Shit of Fuck Mountain

      Same here. I checked out the second track and dug the Steve Albiniesque drum production.

    • yeah, I like a lot of strange vocals, but I really struggle with these

    • Brian Posehn >>>>>>>>

    • Major Zim

      I saw them open for Neurosis and Yob in San Francisco for Neurosis’ anniversary show. Never heard of them before but I was really digging the two drummers and a single guitarist thing they had going on. Very tribal, very militant. Then he fucking started shrieking and I honestly laughed my ass off. It’s so much worse live when it’s not buried behind everything else. I bought earplugs and waited for them to finish. I keep trying to get into it but man, it’s just so fucking terrible to me.

  • Enjoying the tunes, Ed. Also the Beyonce song. I have never heard that one.

    GL

  • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

    I never really got into The Body’s previous albums, but what I’ve heard so far from their new one has caught my interest. Another one to check out and the list keeps growing…

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      As mentioned in the review, their Full of Hell collaboration comes out March 25th, a week after this album’s proper release date. I’m stoked for that too, based on the advances “Little Death” and their cover of Leonard Cohen’s “The Butcher”. The biggest recent The Body collab misfire in my mind was The Body & Krieg. I’m a big fan of both bands, but couldn’t get into what they attempted there.

      • FrankWhiteKingOfNY

        I haven’t checked out The Body & Krieg collab yet. I remember noticing it when it took place last year, but I forgot to actually listen to the finished album.

  • ¡Eduardo!

    Great review. I dug the Shelter is Illusory usage of melodic voice against the military march. I remember I listened one old song of them you shared in a previous article, but didn’t clicked with it.

    This, on the other hand, seems to be focused to another side, due the “pop” elements you mentioned in your writing. In Hallow/Hollow, the instrumentation is darker than the previous song, but the spaces between the rhythmic follows the same “dance/pop/whatever” pattern.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Link, appreciate the kind response.

      As mentioned, these guys haven’t really felt like a heavy metal band for awhile (and one of them told me in person they didn’t consider themselves a heavy metal band), so for them to be doing this mixture of metal, pop, noise, whatever, doesn’t really throw me at all. A lot of older reviews and writing about them placed them firmly in that camp, and they’ve toured with tons of metal bands, but in my mind they’re really a noise duo.

      • I can back up that statement.

        Do you think this is the most “accesible” album of their work?

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Parts of it are! The pop/dance tracks get pretty accessible, but I suspect most people that access the band through those tracks won’t be a big fan of extended, blown out static.

          • Lacertilian

            It takes a special kind of person animal to be a fan of extended blown-out static.

  • Salvador Dalí Lama

    That’s what they look like? I was picturing them to be much more sketchy looking and emaciated. Now that I know, I can’t hear those vocals the same.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      They’re both huge dudes.

      • Salvador Dalí Lama

        This is why I hate band pictures

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          Haha, sorry about that.

          • Salvador Dalí Lama

            Lol it’s not your fault. If I was a band that made evil music, I’d either wear concealing robes or not have band pictures at all to maintain an air of mystique.

        • EsusMoose

          I mean you could find other pictures of them where their mammoth like bodies are put in perspective or they can look like some dudes waiting in line for breakfast. I for one like breakfast

          • Stanley

            These dudes do not wait in line for breakfast.

          • Dubs

            They go full Stanley and eat the other folks in line.

          • Stanley

            More like the other people waiting politely move aside.

          • Stanley

            I’m not a fan of waiting in line for anything. If there’s a line, or even if it’s a bit too crowded, I go somewhere else.

          • Dubs

            To find someone else to eat?

          • Stanley

            Yep, you’ve got to find the weak people in the herd.

          • Stanley

            And I’ve got to stop using “waiting in line”. It’s a queue, dammit.

          • Dubs

            Queueing theory may have been the hardest class I took in grad school.

          • Edward/Breegrodamus™

            I took an economics class which covered queueing theory in my last year of undergrad.

          • Dubs

            I think it would have been easier if I had taken the Stochastic Processes class before Queueing Theory, but I didn’t like a dummy.

          • Stanley

            So do you always choose the correct QUEUE at the TSA?

          • Dubs

            There is no way to beat the TSA.

          • Seems like that’s hard to do in SF. It’s getting hard to do in Austin.

          • Dubs

            Cum to Hub City. We have no lines, and the streets are paved with frankincense and myrrh.

          • …ño.

          • Dubs

            Why do you hate me, Joe?

          • Stanley

            That’s why I eat breakfast at 7-8am and go to the pub at 5pm.

          • Salvador Dalí Lama

            I’d be lying if I said I had a breakfast this week. I do enjoy the later meals such as afternoon lunch and dinner. Or sometimes the big 4 o’clock meal, Dunch.

          • question: are you finding that Dunch goes better before or after Lupper?

  • EsusMoose

    I need to listen to this, but after I get done with the random shit I have on now.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Playing the new Cobalt track “Final Will”. I strongly prefer it to “Beast Whip” which left me lukewarm about their upcoming album…

      • EsusMoose

        I haven’t tried any of the new cobalt stuff, I’ve thought about it but I keep forgetting, does it have a release day yet?

        • Edward/Breegrodamus™

          3/18, like two weeks on Friday.

          • EsusMoose

            Cool I got a few weeks to get around to it!

  • Guacamole Jim

    Great review, Ed! This is some seriously awesome music that I think I’m going to be jamming hard for the next little while.

    • The keyword here is “hard”, right?

      ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      • Dubs

        No, jam.

        • Guacamole Jim

          Actually, it’s both.

  • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

    Great review Ed, I look forward to giving the full album a proper listen when it’s released. I’m woefully unfamiliar with the majority of The Body’s output, save for ‘I Shall Die Here’ and the album they did with N. Jameson/Krieg.

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      Nipple of all people I think you would dig a lot of their stuff. All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood, Master, We Perish, and Christs, Redeemers are all worth checking out.

      • Matt Pike’s Sweaty Left Nipple

        Will do. Thanks for the recs!

  • RustyShackleford

    “Sunbather” pink! Amazing. Pulitzer right here. I love it. Yes. Yes. Yup!

  • Waynecro

    Not my kind of jams, but I love that album title. Thanks for the great review!

    • Edward/Breegrodamus™

      They have a slew of great album titles, I Shall Die Here & You, Whom I Have Always Hated are a couple of my favorites!

      • Waynecro

        I remember digging the title You, Whom I Have Always Hated. The guys in The Body should start an album-title-naming service.

  • Stockhausen

    Can’t wait for this one.

  • Gwet17

    Who does the deep vocals on this thing? Especially on Prescience? Too lazy to do my research.

    (The album destroys.)

  • Kerstin Hern

    Hi! Side note: Intro on “Prescience” isn’t an audiobook recording… I just read/recorded an excerpt from the book into my phone and sent the raw audio file to Lee. 🙂