Existence is futile, perhaps, to Body Void.
At least that seems to be the point they’re trying to make.
However if their debut album “Ruins” is their attempt to make their point, they’ve done very little to convince.
Let’s think of the name and the artwork here and consider what they imply for starters.
The name Body Void reflected in the cover art, indicating the physical giving way to the astral both as a means of either transcendence or perhaps even self-annihilation.
Perhaps even further taken in tandem with their lyrical missives we might see as a driving force for the American sludge band a hint at what the great Eugene Thacker described as a “cosmic pessimism”.
Certainly working in a field where volume and low end seek to overwhelm, and where the glacial pacing can induce a mild hypnosis (think of the almost time stopping effect of, say, Khanate or Corrupted particularly in the live arena), one might expect this record to transport the listener into some sort of temporary darker space in the imagination to ponder all this.
“I’m where I don’t belong
I’m where I don’t belong
Devoid of my being
I’m where I don’t belong
This earth “
There’s a yearning for this removal from mortality into something more ethereal in the lyrics, it’s clear. But they never really hurl themselves into the precipice musically, and as bleak as the art and words are the music is where Body Void drop the fucking ball big time.
The band bill themselves as punk/doom which is always risky territory to enter.
There’s a tendency for it to result in people from one scene playing “Dress Up” in the other, ticking off different boxes on the genre checklist rather than creating a sound out of a natural musical alchemy.
Which is to say, a band can adapt the style but apply zero substance.
And unfortunately that feels like what has happened here on a musical level.
Let’s also quickly mention that the faster punk element to their music is actually the laziest in their arsenal, thrashy moments such as the opening section of “Erased” are ham fisted and lacking in the propulsion or rage an actual hardcore punk band might apply to them.
It all feels like what Body Void are doing on this album is trying out different things to see what fits.
The closing “Ruins” itself seeming like about 4 different songs thrown together over 16 minutes starting with the slow Grief style crawl, into Electric Wizard boogie, before a churning vaguely Crowbar-y few bars, then with the closing moments of Isis style clean noodle over a droning riff.
To be honest, it’s a relief they don’t go the full hog and cram some sort of “black metal” bit in there just to fill the quota.
They at least have the sense to make this album concise. Four songs in just under 40 minutes is plenty and the band don’t overstay their welcome or over egg the pudding.
Producer Greg Wilkinson earns his money too, capturing a clear audio picture of the band as they are without resorting to too much I the way of effects or processing.
This is a record of amp worship, make no mistake. But even the guitar tone seems a little by the numbers, fuzzed out but without any real power. And the riffs…well…where are the riffs?
There’s not one on here that really lodges itself in the mind over the course of the album as the band stumble from one to another, each felling like it were added as an afterthought rather than a logical progression.
“Monoliths” is the one song where the potential is apparent, if squandered a little. The riffs are again not exactly top shelf material but the moment where they go for a Coffins/Autopsy still dbeat to doom transition works well.
It’s the one song I found myself coming back to more than once to catch the details of.
Overall after spending a few days digesting this record the remaining impression is that of a band who picked a genre for the sake of it, and while they have a solid conceptual basis they really have nothing of their own musical character to add to a pre-existing formula.
Sure, if you just want loud, slow monotonous sludge, if your musical diet is based more around fuzz pedals and guitar tone than it is actual songs –or even decent riffs – then you’ll lap this up.
But this is perhaps not a record of sonic nihilism as it could have been, and instead is just an exercise in tedium.
It really feels like no effort has been put into the creation of these songs and the band are just content to drift along on a tidal wave of their own rumbling that even they themselves aren’t fully engaged with.
Sure, live in a small DIY space I imagine they’d grab you by the guts and pin you to the wall for half an hour but on record they sound virtually timid even at high volume through headphones.
They sound safe. This is not music which should be safe. It should be threatening. It’s a moan, rather than a scream, into the abyss.
Had “Ruins” been a demo it might turn a few heads as a flawed start beckoning a more exciting future development but for this to be released as an album seem premature as the band simply don’t merit an album yet.
Body Void have all the tools to produce something impressive which I hope they will in the future ,but this album lacks a direction seems more like a vague blueprint than a considered effort.
While there’s a strong aesthetic and interesting lyrics, to prioritise those elements and make music this unfocussed seems a grave injustice.
2/5 – Jamie Grimes ::: 22/11/17