The Body’s damaged attempt at creating a pop album is warped, apocalyptic on burnt ‘No One…’

Photo by Angela Owens

Photo by Angela Owens

The idea of a pop album probably makes most people reading this site shudder with horror. And why not, as most of them are synthetic, plasticy, soulless, and not worth the material on which it’s printed. But that isn’t the case the whole way around, as there are plenty of great pop stars past and current who make legitimate impacts on our lives.

Now doom duo The Body are trying their beastly hands at making a pop album. Uh, sort of. Their latest effort “No One Deserves Happiness,” their fifth full-length recording, is their stab at a synth pop album. “Their stab” being the operative words. You’re not going to hear these songs blaring out of cars this summer, and the kids, wherever it is they go, aren’t going to be jamming these cuts. If they are, and you witness them, hug them very tightly and offer to adopt them. They might have a fighting chance. These 10 tracks might be driving toward pop terrain in the mind of the two members of The Body–guitarist/vocalist Chip King, drummer Lee Buford–and the songs certainly have a far different bend than what they’ve created in the past. This is a new way to absorb how artists attempt and articulate pop music, and though it might not fit into that container, there is a beauty and strange curve to their creations.

The Body coverThe Body haven’t been treading the same waters for a long time now. With their multiple collaborations (they have a terrifying one upcoming with Full of Hell) and their dabbling with noise and electronic elements (not to mention their partnership with Haxan Cloak), this band has been twisting and morphing for years now. They’ve also, in the past, aligned with The Assembly of Light Choir, whose Chrissy Wolpert is a major contributor to this record, making them one of the more unpredictable bands in all of heavy music. Maralie Armstrong (of Humanbeast) also is a significant contributor, singing on two tracks. This record continues that strange development, and while they label this their pop album, devotees of the band don’t have to worry that they’ve gone soft. In reality, it’s the total opposite.

“Wanderings” begins the record, with Wolpert singing over static beats, with dying horns kicking in, everything trembling, and then the power rupturing. King wails from behind, with doomy chaos lapping up and the track grinding to a close. “Shelter of Illusory” has primitive drumming clashing with beats, crazed howls that shred the skin, and an electronic storm that Armstrong joins with calls of, “Church bells ring,” making your blood chill. “For You” goes face-first into the mouth of death, as noise smothers, growls and shrieks combine for one terrible force, and the track feels like an absolute bludgeoning. “Hallow/Hollow” mauls with a calculated pace, with guitar haze enveloping, the tortured vocals erupting, and doom horns bring fire and decimation. Wolpert then joins in to add a dreaminess to utter demise. Haunting, angelic choral calls bring the song to its sooty ending. “Two Snakes” has synth pulsing, with guitars smothering, a charred melody sliding over everything, and sunburnt playing making your face feel dry. The growling and singing mix, as a shimmer of keys pulls the track to a simmering end.

“Adameh” delves right back into furious noise, with guitars boiling and Armstrong’s singing coming from deep within her soul, as if she’s belting this out in front of the darkest faith congregation imaginable. “Starving Deserter” has guitars flowing like hot wax, horns bringing doom clouds, and horrific shrieks raining down. Bells chime, as the chorus rises up, pounds in their message, and slides along tornadic fury that pours on the desperation and panic. “The Fall and the Guilt” brings quiet piano, Wolpert sounding solemn, and lovely, yet ominous, singing that reminds a bit of Tori Amos. A long section of deep ambience stretches in and pushes into the album’s longest track “Prescience” that runs 7:23. There, a chilling reading breaks the silence, with the song churning hard, the choral voices glimmering, and the track stretching itself over a long pathway. The intensity and emotion build with the song, with pained wails pelting, a deep sense of mourning weighing down, and the heaviness and hell finally landing. Savagery and mental torment are what follow, and those elements keeping poking until the finale “The Myth Arc” slips in. Noise mars the vision, with Wolpert calling, “Say my name, I will find you,” letting in a feeling of vulnerability and hope. The sounds burn around it, smoke rises as if to bring the end, and a final choral stand represents the song’s final breaths.

Whether you want to deem this apocalyptic pop, doom hell, metallic bloodletting, or a combo of all of those, there’s no denying the power and fascination behind “No One Deserves Happiness.” King and Buford always find new ways to be terrifying and strange, and they’ve been making some of the most inventive creations in all of metal. So here it is, the pop album you never saw coming, one that’ll devastate every fiber of your being.

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