Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bodysnatch - Insights of a Rotten Theatre (2011; Pathologically Explicit Recordings)

Bodysnatch are a fairly underground band from Switzerland currently signed to PathEx Records, known for renowned releases by bands like Cumbeast, Kraanium and Antraks. Boasting Soils of Fate/MP5k (R.I.P.?) drummer Fredrik Widigs on the kit on this album, a sick dual vocal assault by two full-time vocalists and some really cool melodic moments and leads, this was pretty much destined to be an underground/sleeper hit for 2011. The album is also really, really long for slam. You barely see slam albums go over the 30 minute mark, so my response to first hearing "Inception of Malicious Pregnancy" was "wow, this is really 7 minutes long?" but that feeling quickly waned as I realized how well each song is created and how painstakingly they all seem to be constructed. The album is, truly, insanely long (very near to an hour total, over 10 tracks) but none of the songs really feel like they lag or try to carry too much weight. In fact, "Shotgun Therapy" which is a whopping 7-and-a-quarter minutes, features three distinct, equally enjoyable sections that run the gamut from vocal highlights to awesome groove riffs.

And that's basically where this album shines. Amongst the tight, awesome drumming, the interesting little slap bass pops and the thugged-out rapping vocals (really well-done; I found myself laughing a bit at some parts), this album is really just about super riffing. It starts chuggy with a forward-pushing beat that relents very little, and eventually settles into its own little groove. There are very few breakdowns on this album that don't make me want to headbang involuntarily (even in the car which, while dangerous and possibly even fatal, makes it even more awesome actually). It's the combination of super-simple pinpoint drumming and totally rifftastic slamming that makes this album, as a whole, stand out.

There are little things that just work, though, as well. The little solo section in "Resurrected Pugnacity Resists All Logic" (awesome song title, as well) is fun, a good break from utter brutality, and fits very well in the song with a cool rhythmic buildup underneath before collapsing into a cool chugging, off-time slam with a djent-like drum section. Bass pops make for cute diversions as well, and the bass is heavy as all fuck on this album, but the guitar tone is sometimes a bit too weak for what they seem to be trying to achieve. There are riffs that feel they could use a bit more tone behind them, either because the triggered kick drum drowns out the damped slam riff tones or because they're just written weirdly, but these are few and far between overall, which is a relief.

One other technical thing on this album keeps it from being absolutely excellent, however. Fucking fret noise! This unfortunately sucks, and it's so obvious and pervasive during a lot of the slower, more funeral-esque slam sections (of which there actually are quite a few...points for those anyway!) that it just sounds totally bothersome and distracting. It's like when you hear a singer breathe between vocal lines, just messy little things that take me out of the experience and seem like they could be easily fixed. Some may argue that this adds a "rough" or "raw" edge to this album, but I really don't think they are going for that sort of sound; it definitely seems like it's supposed to be hi-fi and modern as hell.

The lead/solo thing in "Inception of Malicious Pregnancy" reminds me heavily of Fleshless, to the extent that, after several listens back to back on the way to and from work for about a week, I basically decided that this sounds like Soils of Fate, Dying Fetus, Fleshless and old Aborted having a kid and smashing all their songs into mega-songs that just go weird, absurdly developed places over their entirety. Throw in a bit of Saprogenic for good measure, and it's really just demented stuff, and great fun. Funeral slams are, like I said, in surprising abundance, though most are of the "introduced as completely silly slow breakdown" kind and not the "breakdown that starts normal speed and gets slower" type. That's cool; it sort of fits Bodysnatch's style a little more to have sections that are just coarsely delineated from the rest of the song but which eventually seem to snake back and relate to earlier themes or rhythms, given their song lengths. I keep coming back to that, but it seriously is a big point of contention to a lot of people, and something that certainly becomes a divisive, love-or-hate situation among many fans of this genre. A lot of people believe slam bands should come in, destroy your ears as brutally, quickly and/or loudly as possibly, and get the hell out so the next thing on the menu can be voraciously consumed. I don't think Bodysnatch is about that. They seem to, on this album anyway, be about devising ear-worm, catchy moments placed manipulatively in long sections of catchy riffs so that one has to keep rediscovering how songs unfold to truly "get" them.

It's pretty brilliant and high-brow actually. While this isn't cerebral music by any stretch of the imagination, it's surprisingly intelligent and a little bit silly. Overall, it's consistently high-quality and enjoyable brutal death metal with a focus on gut-punching slam breakdowns and charging old-school riffs that shouldn't disappoint a single person into this type of music. Since Thanksgiving begins in America in a few minutes, I'd like to personally declare my sincere thanks to cool bands like this the world over that make brutal, interesting and engaging music that just kicks ass. We salute you.


buttons. said...

fucking enjoyable review that was. slam hasn't hit me for a few months, but i'm actually really keen to give this album a go.

nixon said...

I never thought I'd see the word cute used in a slam review. Good review and good album though.

Andy Phelps said...

Haha, amen nixon. I thought it'd be a good word to use though. buttons., check it out!

anthony said...

Proof that you can take simplicity to complex levels! Fun record! Great review! I love their song titles.

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