The Body & Full of Hell
Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light
17th November 2017 – Thrill Jockey
01. Light Penetrates
02. Earth is a Cage
03. The King Laid Bare
04. Didn’t the Night End
05. Our Love Conducted with Shields Aloft
06. Master’s Story
07. Farewell, Man
08. I Did Not Want to Love You So
For a band known for taking the boundary-pushing aspects of the classic grind format and running with them, Trumpeting Ecstasy was a fairly by-the-books record for Full of Hell. Despite being killer, it left a small core of fans lightly miffed that it wasn’t more out-there – bearing in mind this is a band who released a collaboration with Merzbow. No such complaints for The Body, of course, who have always been singularly unnerving.
I am happy to inform that tiny group that the boundary-defying madness they seek can be found here, in abundance. Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light is batshit insane; the kind of avant-garde noise-jazz-grindcore-industrial that could only come from a union like this. Confrontational and relentless, it’s a mortifying assault on the senses. The record pulses with malevolence in a way which little else does; it’s haunted by a lot of ghosts (harsh industrial, noise, grind etc) but in essence it sounds like two heavy bands doing their best to make the most awful noise possible.
The record opens with “Light Penetrates“, a wavering synth melody over some off-kilter drum trade-offs, which explodes into howling and layered, disjointed chanting. Later, the noise-feedback builds as the drums crescendo and the track winks out as it reaches its climax. This very much sets the tone for the rest of the record; “Earth is a Cage” builds to an absurdly abrasive outro, “Didn’t the Night End” is a hard shell formed around a deep pulse and “Farewell, Man” trades layers of fluttering ambience for jagged stabs of grindcore. Despite the apparent incoherence, the songs have structure – though this is often a little obscured by the chaos.
The record sounds refreshingly analogue, like a lot of pedal nerds in a room pissing about with horrible delay layers and weird, fizzy loops. There’s a sense of feral, gleeful boundary-pushing only lightly contained by genre constraints; it’s as much Ornette Coleman as it is Throbbing Gristle or Napalm Death or John Zorn; bright and ecstatically violent.
I get the impression that both bands are lightly tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing, which doesn’t diminish their passion for fierce, angular noise. The tracks are carefully crafted and forged, which elevates this from a simply upsetting, disjointed record to a compelling, coherent one.
I have run out of synonyms for “abrasive,” “confrontational” or “angular.” Come on, you pretty much know if you’re the right audience for this. Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light achieves everything it sets out to do; it’s a weird-metal highlight of the year.