My dad had been telling me to replace the tires on my car for weeks. The rubber had become bald to the point where I was basically driving on four inner tubes, but being the lazy halfwit that I am, I just didn’t feel like driving down and getting them switched out. Not to mention the couple hundred dollars it was going to cost me to do so. So I kept driving on them. Delivering pizzas all over town, I paid no mind to the accident waiting to happen spinning underneath me.
Then on Sunday night the weather took a turn for the disgusting. On Monday morning with a half-inch of sleet on the roads, I set off for work like I do every other normal day. I drove slowly to be cautious, but even so, as I crested the big, several-mile-long hill that would take me down into town, the inevitable happened. I began to slide. What simply alarmed me at first quickly then began to scare me. I spun, and sloshed, and before I knew it I was sliding sideways down a hill into oncoming traffic, and there was almost nothing I could do.
Another element that elevated this slippery situation into the arena of the “OH MY GOD” was the fact that I was blaring You, Whom I Have Always Hated, the recent collaborative album by The Body and Thou, at the time. I always listen to music in the car since I spend so much of my time in there, but the fact that I was listening to this particular album at this particular moment was almost hysterical in its irony. Here I was, spinning downhill, brakes locked, thinking that I was going to die while listening to this album that is almost comically fixated on death and destruction at an almost inexcusable volume. Let me put it this way, if this occurrence were a scene in a movie it would certainly have been slow-motion for maximum effect. Speed ramp that shit.
Then, at the pinnacle of my panic and right before smashing into an oncoming truck, my little blue car whipped back around and instead smashed into the guardrail on the right side of the road. (If you’ve ever wondered just how strong those tin-foil-looking rails are, it turns out, pretty damn strong.)
Eventually I reached the bottom of the hill, shaken, shaking, and probably a little crazy-eyed. I remember pulling over, putting my head back, and closing my eyes with The Body and Thou still raising hell, buzzing through my feeble car speakers. And as the metal blasted on the heels of this near-death experience, I also remember thinking about just how heavy these songs felt in my already weighted chest—and also maybe about the fact that Chip King does kind of sound like a woman screaming sometimes.
These are two metal bands at the peak of their careers, so listening to this album is already an intense experience on its own, and yet I had just had the fortune (I guess you could call it fortune) to forge an even more intense personal experience with it. It heightened my senses and pulled me in and turned what was already an unforgettable instance into an absurdly unforgettable one.
Last year The Body and Thou respectively put out I Shall Die Here and Heathen to critical acclaim with both albums arguably being the bands’ best material to date. Then, somewhere along the line and on the back of a successful tour, they also found time to come together on Released from Love, a cheeky little EP that managed to level the landscape while also whetting the appetites of voracious metal fans everywhere. Stressing that the release was a collaboration and not a split, the bands fused their sounds together into some grotesque monster supersound, melding metal with metal and sending it home on a hailstorm of riffs and punishing feedback. These two bands had thoroughly explored their own territories to a T and with Released from Love they instead turned their sites towards weathering the badlands in between their camps and staking it out for future damage.
That damage, as it turns out, arrives later this month in the form of You, Whom I Have Always Hated, the very album that carried me down that icy hill in a fit of squealing tires and human screams—both theirs and mine. To say that this album is heavy is the understatement of the year. Imagine hundreds of cords snaked across the floor plugged into stacks on stacks on stacks of massive amps. Now imagine the sheer weight of sound that would come barreling out of those speakers. The Body and Thou have found a way to harness that gargantuan energy and smelt it down into a brick of blistering brutality for no other reason than the fact that they could.
There is an air of “Yeah, let’s do it!” that permeates this whole album, and for as dark and depressing it can seem on the surface, it’s also an album that feels spontaneous, fun, and energetic. These guys aren’t pushing any boundaries, but honestly they aren’t trying to. We didn’t need this album, but it’s one that we got. And though I might be a tad bit hesitant to press play on it on my way to work tomorrow, I imagine that I’ll do it just the same. Plus I’m taking my dad’s car to work tomorrow while he’s out of town because, hey, had to get those tires replaced eventually.
You, Whom I Have Always Hated will be out on January 27th via Thrill Jockey.