Band: Body Void
Title: Atrocity Machine
Label: Prosthetic Records
Release Date: 13 October 2023
Format Reviewed: Digital Download
Following 2021’s intense, noise-soaked barrage Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth, Body Void ratched the sense of screaming dread up another notch with Atrocity Machine – the group’s fourth full-length and second with Prosthetic Records. Across six tracks and 43 minutes the trio of Willow Ryan, Janys-Iren Faughn and Edward Holgerson have got a remorseless, pummelling, slow noisy sludge grind to pull you through by your teeth. As you ol’ meme has it: “I hope you like pain”.
Let’s get something straight though, gut-punching pain delivered straight through your speakers can be a glorious thing (if you’re open to it). To say Atrocity Machine is not an easy listen is laughably evident as the oppressive, layered ambience of opener “Microwave” carries into the album’s first pounding attack of “Human Greenhouse”, your senses are now in for a 40+ minute kicking. The kind of kicking that may well have you bobbing your head along in silent agreement.
Recorded with Uniform’s Ben Greenberg (Portrayal of Guilt, VR Sex, Soft Kill) the record sees Body Void adding more electronic textures to their musical palette. These are often subtle (within the overall sonic maelstrom), but they add welcome variety to overall sound as each track slowly morphs through gradual melodic transitions.
At its core the grouptakes the sledgehammer pounding of early-80s Swans (like kindred spirits Primitive Man), overlaying it with noise-soaked Doom guitar chords and Willow’s screams rising up (it seems) from the proverbial void.
The grind of the music is reflected in lyrics like “They start us young, Raised like swine, Born in the market, Collapse on their birthday, Sold for parts Next day the toll is the same” from “Flesh Market”. With each track after the intro around 7-10 minutes in length (and mostly) getting gradually longer, it’s like the band is slowly pushing the listener’s endurance with each successive assault.
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Interested in exploring themes of societal division and conflict without being too literal, Willow’s lyrics are full of grotesque, evocative, visceral imagery. There does seem to be a fair share of burning. Japanese sci-fi body-horror classics Akira and Tetsuo were apparently inspirations for the album and it makes sense with everything from the album’s artwork down evoking a sense of industrialised, sci-fi body horror.
Beneath the abrasive noise, the rhythms are addictive, making you want to sway with the music even as it’s grinding you down. There’s something perversely energising about the toil, as though crawling through the mud, body half broken, generates a certain inner strength, pushing through the pain, teeth gritted with a wild, frenzied death grin – or maybe the music’s just cool and makes you want to bang your head and you don’t need to overthink it.
With the closing title track the album comes full circle with an electronic pulsing reminiscent of the album’s opening sequence. This could indeed be soundtracking the NeoTokyo of Akira. Of course the crashing sludge metal follows hot on its heels and another 10 minutes of slow, noisy pounding. As the track and album crescendos with escalating layers of noise like a screaming kettle reaching boiling point you’ve reached your destination.
Want to go back in for more? You probably do like a bit of pain then. And that’s absolutely alright.
8/10 Tom Osman
Photo courtesy of Skyler Williams
8/10 To Greatness and Glory!
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