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In Extremis

Prepare For The Worst: Facing The Apocalypse With The Body
Luke Turner , October 20th, 2010 08:45

The Body's And All The Waters Of The Earth Shall Turn To Blood an outrock highlight of 2010. Here they tell Luke Turner that their guns were bought for hunting men as much as critters

The Body are prepared for The End. "This world, our culture, and perhaps our entire civilisation are seemingly doomed to utter failure," states guitarist Chip King. "I believe that things for humanity will be much worse before they will get better, if that is even a possibility. The idea of a bleak future, with or without people, is the predominant vision of our work; the idea of what is left behind after we have finished... if there is anything left behind."

The duo of King and drummer Lee Buford first played together in various punk bands in Arkansas, but now hail from that most noisy of American cities, Providence, Rhode Island. They grew up listening to Misfits and the other Danzig projects, Dead Kennedys, early Dischord records and soon after got into Sabbath, Slayer and Neurosis. Now they make a sound that lies somewhere between the dearly departed Khanate, roving Norsemen Årabrot and the sludge of Sleep, with all psychedelic tendencies stripped out in favour of a bleak, industrial tone.

Even in their choice of name, The Body explore visions of an end time. "'The Body' was in reference to a fascination I had with pictures of people hanging from gallows, victims of a state," King explains. "They looked so awkward — no life in them. Initially, we wore burlap sacks over our heads and hung ourselves with nooses from the ceiling or from the rafters while we performed, as an illustration of this idea. It was not always the most popular thing to do."

King and Buford are often photographed brandishing rifles in front of bullet-splintered wooden targets, while the inner sleeve artwork of their apocalyptically-titled new album All The Waters Of The Earth Turn To Blood features weapons on what looks like an altar, as if they are being blessed.

Yet it isn't extremes of aesthetic alone that mark out The Body from two-a-penny burly tattooed dudes making coruscating drones and apocalyptic mutterings as they flirt with potentially dangerous imagery. All The Waters… is bold, intense and arguably the best record on the fringes of metal since Sunn O)))'s 2009 masterpiece, Monoliths & Dimensions. Vocals that explore a humanity beset by terrors are as important as the aggressive arrangements, giving the album a throttling power that few others reach. Opening track 'A Body' is a 10-minute harmonic lament sung by a female choir who come off like they're performing in the ruined nave of a church where the roof and altar have long vanished. 'Empty Hearth' begins with the frantic gabble of a man speaking in tongues, of which King says: "The chant was taken from recordings of the Church Universal And Triumphant, a separatist cult in Montana. We find a common ground with most groups that want to separate themselves from the rest of society, regardless if our politics and/or beliefs don't match." 'Song Of Sarin, The Brave' has mumbled snatches of speech delivered over abstract guitar and drums, as if tuning into a survivalist's radio over distant gunfire. Throughout, King's vocals are an unintelligible, anguished scream, like he's a man being forced to dig and kneel before his own grave.

With regard to their weapons, King and Buford claim they are ready to lock and load and practise what they preach: "We both own and shoot guns, yes. The ones in the gatefold, actually," King confirms. "There are a lot of guns in our society, a society that could feasibly break down within our lifetime. Five years ago I thought differently. We think it is a responsible act to acquire, learn to use and to be able to teach people how to use firearms, and also be responsible about their use. In an 'us vs. them' scenario, we vote for us."

What if that scenario were to come to pass, leaving The Body to fend for themselves against the scavengers of a lawless Rhode Island? "Not to completely sound like a hyper-alarmist, we have bought guns to shoot people, in case the need to shoot people becomes a necessity, as in an end-of-the-world-type scenario," states King. "Prepare for the worst."

This article originally appeared in the current issue of The Stool Pigeon newspaper. For more information about this fine publication, go here