Think Dead Can Dance on PCP.
How is innovation possible in a genre that needs to be on the cutting edge just to exist? Any morose musician wading into the pitch-black waters of industrial music must face this question. The blackened confines that dominate Godflesh, Whitehouse and Nurse with Wound were meant to be boundary obliterating, shocking and mind bending. With masochists like Prurient and Pharmakon creating a musical arms race, how does a band stand out? Providence, Rhode Island’s The Body has been slithering on as pioneers for nearly two decades, slathering its brutal central sound with death metal, hardcore and even pop. With I Have Fought Against it, But I Can’t Any Longer it continues its horrifically captivating evolution, splicing in heavenly overtures between hellfire.
To quickly summarize the album, think Dead Can Dance on PCP. It’s neoclassical darkwave but with fewer Greek choruses and more Jason Voorhees. I Have Fought’s finest moments are ascendant, and thanks to guest vocals from Chrissy Wolpert and Kristin Hayter, the madness that swirls below can resemble the final fugues of Mozart’s Requiem or even Wagner’s melodrama of the soul.
Two openers best show these flourishes. “The Last Form of Living” drones into life, with cooing vocals floating in over shuddering percussion, dripping on dregs of tension. When the tension breaks, it transforms into “Carry No Weight,” which might be both the best thing The Body has ever done and the most beautiful. Now, don’t mistake gorgeousness for a lack of sheer dread. The choir vocals are abyssal and raging synths boil at the edges. Chip King’s trademark screeching joins in, but it’s clearly a prelude for Wolpert’s operatic turn. This is the last document of light from a soul descending into hell.
King’s vocals can make the album uneven. His howls are still otherworldly, but if you’ve heard any Body albums before, you know how they pitch and roll through the sound like banshees. It’s still fresh in certain parts (the nearly chopped and screwed beat down of “Partly Alive”) but his talents are more impactful in opposition to more captivating sounds. He is the venom making the honey succumb.
The album drags in the middle, mostly due to retrodden territory. Buzzsaw basses hum, the drums of war throttle the ears, all standard industrial fair, and the monologue that closes the album, “Ten Times A Day, Everyday, a Stranger” falls flat with its pathos. The rest of the album does a mythical job of portraying a desolate mind just through music well enough alone.
Those on the bleeding edge must always be wary of slipping–that’s how you get your legs cut off. Grace may not be the best word for it, but injecting some elegance in this hellish noise, The Body, with I Have Fought Against it, But I Can’t Any Longer, has proven itself still hungry, still experimenting, still ready to drag you down.