The Body

All the Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood

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By the time the Body released All the Waters of the Earth Turned to Blood in 2010, the Providence-based duo (consisting of guitarist/vocalist Chip King and drummer Lee Buford) had been around for over a decade, released one full-length and a handful of limited CD-Rs and 7" singles, and toured immensely. They've typically been described as doom or sludge metal due to their brutally slow tempos, churning guitars, and howled vocals, but they've resisted such categories from the beginning with their unconventional samples and covers (2011's Anthology compilation begins with a Last Poets sample and ends with a Sinéad O'Connor cover). Even compared to their previous recordings, All the Waters was a major left turn as well as a significant widening of the band's scope. The album begins with seven minutes of eerie, unaccompanied choral vocals that gradually become richer, before the guitars and drums suddenly slam in. The choir sounds downright haunted when combined with King's tortured shrieking, and things get even more sickly when the strings come in. The album gets progressively stranger, incorporating harsh noise and industrial elements, as well as more daring sample manipulations. "Empty Hearth" is simply unbelievable, with speaking-in-tongues samples from a doomsday cult record (most likely the exact one that Negativland sampled on "Michael Jackson") twisted until they resemble Tuvan throat singing, with glitchy, dubby drum mangling to match. "Song of Sarin, the Brave" buries more strange voices (including a particularly unsettling extended passage in which a man insists that "pain's not bad, it's good!") under rumbling guitar and spacy effects, in between heavier sections. Finale "Lathspell I Name You" is a 14-minute epic featuring an arsenal of drummers as well as strings, horns, and choral vocals. With this album, the Body embraced the possibilities of the recording studio in order to construct ambitious noisescapes that elegantly depict loss and failure. As bizarre and fascinating as this album is, parts of it sound a bit cluttered or disjointed, and the duo's musicianship hasn't quite hit its peak yet. It's still an incredible album, but the Body would only continue to get better and more confounding on their subsequent full-lengths and collaborations.

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