Putting together numerous major forces into one place and expecting them not only to get along but generate something apart from their own creations is hardly a given. Egos can get involved, power struggles would seem natural, and the result is not guaranteed to be something that transcends no matter how great the parts might be.
All of that said, Absent in Body succeeds mightily in these circumstances, and their debut record “Plague God” is a revelation, a piece of work that feels like it arrived from another planet or at least a parallel universe. Culling members of Neurosis, Amenra, and Sepultura seems like a weird dream collaboration, and it’s actually very much that. Amenra members guitarist Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove and vocalist/bassist Colin H. Van Eeckhout joined with Neurosis guitarist/vocalist Scott Kelly and Sepultura legend and drummer Igor Cavalera to create such a wild grouping, and their five-track debut is a doomy, deathy, industrial fever dream that’s brutal and inventive. It’s a true triumph of achieving a shared vision bigger than its members and very different from what most of them do for a living. It’s a fantastic record that weighs on your psyche and refuses to let you have peace.
“Rise From Ruins” brings a heavy noise haze and drums echoing, the parts slowly melting into each other. Once the guts are torn out, it’s a psychological battle as growls and shrieks struggle for control, and the playing turns beastly and mauling. Darkness gets thicker and hangs overhead with the sounds rushing out into midnight confusion. “In Spite of Spite” opens mechanical hell as the growls push and the playing toys with your emotions, teasing you. Fiery sludge and weird vibes are strange partners, eerie speaking sends chills down your spine, and the bass slithers along, building up an oil slick. “Seek solace in silence where I live and you will now forever hide,” is a chilling threat, and that violent intent eventually dissolves into unexpected calm.
“Sarin” floats in like a fog before the power barrels and then the vocals crush with mammoth force. Sounds implode as the growls roar, the elements fold into themselves like a world coming apart, and a vicious circle swallows you, consuming your bones that have turned to dust. “The Acres, the Ache” is a slowly developing storm with tribal drumming mesmerizing, and spacey swooshes make it feel like you’re among the stars. Dreamy torment then turns nasty as the vocals destroy, and the universe keeps surrounding you, the guitars dripping like frozen droplets of blood. Clean vocals emerge, and a serenity that feels unhinged takes hold as it swims in echo before the band devours you one final time. Closer “The Half Rising Man” is a calculated path that feels cosmic, and the drone and synth vibrate and make your body shake. A burly path burns as the playing hulks, and an industrial glaze is smeared, accelerating the haunting spirits. Devastation begins to take control, synth jabs your ribs, and an alien transmission mixes with the carnage, ending with a sudden gasp.
Absent in Body is greater than the sum of its admittedly stellar parts as “Plague God” stands as an alien spirit that exists far and away from any of these creators’ other projects. This record is abrupt and immersive, something that can be violent one moment and have you travelling light years from the Earth in the next. Here’s hoping this band has legs because it feels like these four are just tapping into something that is worth much further exploration.
For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/AbsentInBody/
To buy the album, go here: https://www.facebook.com/RelapseRecords
For more on the label, go here: https://store.relapse.com/b/absent-in-body