You Get What You Deserve

The BodyThe Body/Full Of Hell                                                                                     Rainbow, Birmingham, April 11th

Ear splitting loudness. Much beard. Two things we could be sure of ahead of tonight. The Rainbow’s woefully understocked bar a third. What else there might be was unclear, The Body and Full Of Hell just released a collaborative album recorded at the end of a U.S. tour together – are they all going to be on stage at once and play it? Seperate sets? Overlap them? The gig is in the basement, which I never knew they had before, and is actually reached by walking through the toilets. Now, I have been to hundreds of gigs in ‘toilet’ venues in my time but I’m pretty sure this is a first. Turns out it’s just each band in turn and nothing off the new record is played as best as I can tell. Full of Hell are on already. They’re a fierce grindcore/thrash undertaking, lot of screaming. Like you, I’ve only heard of them because of this collaboration but they’ve also got one with Merzbow under their belt so they’re no slackers. The singer makes a charming gag about being happy to play in the home of Aerosmith proving he has a human voice too, the guitarist looks like he’s still at school and has a wonderful comedy shaped guitar in a darling shade of deep turquoise, like he got it as a metal kid before he got into the more extreme filth he’s playing with it now. I can’t see much else but they make quite the thrilling racket and the sound is really good, not collapsing into a slush. I don’t follow this stuff closely enough to make particularly informed comparisons but they strike me as accomplished and inventive practioners of the noble art. The Body are an altogether less generic proposition though. Across a steady stream of releases and collaborations in the last few years they have stretched and pushed at the edges of extreme metal, twisting it into an impressive variety of new shapes without ever being less then crushingly heavy. This experimentation reached a new high on this year’s ‘No One Deserves Happiness’ their crazily ambitious, self described ‘pop’ album. Thematically they elegantly walk a tight rope above metal’s more amusing clichés. The titles are knowingly, almost comically, overwrought and they use vocal samples that address the darkest of emotions and get away with it because it seems sincere. Black metal and grindcore albums in their hordes are filled with grotesque evocations of male violence, sword and sorcery fantasy satanic nonsense but, biblical imagery aside, The Body don’t deal in any of that, their battle is with the everyday and turned inward on the self. Depression, despair, self-hatred and the gnawing void. All the best stuff. Questions about how they might realise the more experimental material live, particularly the remarkably successful inclusion of female vocals are answered directly – they aren’t. The live show doesn’t seem to have moved forward in step with their studio efforts. Lee has cut his hair off, he beats the drums like a demon. Chip has his box of tricks, his guitar and his odd high pitched scream. I’m initially disappointed by this state of affairs but it’s not all bad, they’re incredibly, bone shakingly brutal. Watching them there’s occasionally an odd sense they’re playing in parallel because you can’t work out how they know where they are in the song but it’s tightly controlled, there’s no jamming or dicking about, every huge slab of noise is carefully swung into place. In truth I’d have enjoyed it more having not heard the last couple of records because they’re fantastic, a wave of sound that hits the body and makes you grin and submit to the power of it. It’s all over too soon, they play for about 40 mins and it seems like they finished half way through the set. Always leave ’em wanting more as they say. Especially if your whole schtick is the pain and dissatisfaction of life in general.

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