The Body: I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer (Thrill Jockey)

US experimental metal duo unleash formidable, genre expanding new disc

Released May 11th, 2018 via Thrill Jockey / By Erick Mertz
The Body: I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer (Thrill Jockey) Portland, Oregon experimental metal two-piece The Body said they wanted to challenge themselves on, I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer. Indeed, the resulting ten tracks feels like a musical challenge, but it is so much more than that.

This is a tough record on a number of levels, not just for the extremes it indulges. The Body has made a tough piece of music because they chose to build on so many strange and seething instrumental layers. Opening with despair drenched string sections, The Last Form Of Loving sets a bleak and intermittently manic current that sets the tone for the remaining tracks. Pulsing bass opens Can Carry No Weight a familiar performance that is backed with a netherworld shriek, each element intensifying as the track builds into its curdling crescendo. Forgive the simplicity, but there on this track there is a stark light/dark, heaven/hell element at play with a juxtaposition that is dizzying.

On Partly Alive the rhythm section suggest militaristic tones. It is bitter and fearful, suggesting a pillage of some kind, bringing forth images of Cossack raiders; only on this song rather than bask in the glory of triumph, we feel those thundering hooves from inside the huts, huddled next to the frightened, soon-to-be victims. My favorite track on the record is Blessed Alone which leans on a heavy piano. The organic instrumental elements really stand out on this record, as so much of what The Body brought to the mix was electric, pulsing bass and heavily affected vocals.

There is a voice on I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer but it is often found buried under droning layers of instrumentation. While it is always anguished, it comes across at times as mechanized and almost robotic. A few times the band brings in angelic, female choral vocals and that ends up being my least favorite experiment on the record, never really as bewitching or beguiling as I think the band wanted. The Body wanted to explore their sound more deeply on this record than any of their previous work. They also seem to be peeling back the layers on what heavy music can be, which is high praise considering how many bands are tinkering with the form. But these guys are hardly tinkering, merely finding embellishments to add to their bone crushing sound. Instead, Lee Buford and Chip King are funneling generations of genuine ancestral woe, anxiety and delusion into a style of music that once seemed comfortable merely showing those aspects off like flair.

To say that The Body has challenged its audience on I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer is an understatement. The scope and feel of this record challenges a genre.