Written by Kep
Body Void – Atrocity Machine
> Sludge/doom metal
> Vermont, US
> Releasing October 13
> Prosthetic Records
I first came into contact with the music of Body Void early in the pandemic; I’m pretty sure I first looked them up after seeing the name on some sweet merch in a picture on Twitter. Needless to say, as a fan of heavy, slow, oppressive shit, I was both impressed and intrigued. 2021’s Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth was a titanic effort and their first album after I became aware of them, and it started a clear progression in their sound that continued through last year’s EP Burn the Homes of Those Who Seek to Control Our Bodies.
A key moment in this progression was the addition of Janys-Iren Faughn, who added session noise and electronics to Bury Me… under the name of their solo project Entresol. Becoming a full-fledged member and taking over as the band’s live bassist, Faughn’s electronic elements were an intriguing addition then and also on Burn the Homes…, but here on Atrocity Machine you’ll find that those elements have evolved into a beast of their own. Noise lies as near to the center of this record’s sonic profile as the guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, very nearly an equal partner in monstrous auditory destruction. The band recorded with Ben Greenberg of Uniform, the industrial/noise metal outfit, and they credit him with helping to refine the electronics into something cohesive and terrifying. It’s a logical progression in the scope of their discography, and it arrives in its full force at the optimal thematic time.
Atrocity Machine is an album about the cancerous corruption of capitalism-driven evil in our natural and social existence. Indeed, Body Void has always written music like this, so it’s not a new theme for them in any sense, but this particular imagery of oppression as a police-worshipping, humanity-draining, minority-murdering machine is powerful stuff and the prominence of noise in the musical texture enhances it. There’s something inhuman about the screeching dissonance of steel and coils that is perfectly suited to portray the cold, malicious detachment of an unfeeling machine. The totality of it within what was already an overwhelmingly heavy and miserable aesthetic is palpable: Atrocity Machine is nothing short of horrifying.
The core of the band’s sound is still a trudging, torturously deliberate sludge and doom amalgamation, with straightforward heavy riffs played at optimal bludgeon-you-to-a-pulp pace. The guitar buzzes thickly in that weighty lower register, and the bass is overdriven and rumbles monstrously in tandem with it. Edward Holgerson’s drums tower, enormous cymbal crashes on almost every accented beat, pounding, mercilessly driving down and leading the guitars to land heavily over and over again before they retch away. Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Willow Ryan’s harrowing screams are as arresting as ever, carrying an unbelievable amount of vitriol and bitter grievance. Sometimes Faughn’s noise elements move in tandem with the riffs in grinding dissonant harmony, as they do in “Flesh Market”, while at other times they provide an inescapable umbrella of suffocating haze. The closing title track is perhaps the strongest example of the parts as a whole: deadly humming noise to start, a first half built around an astoundingly heavy main riff with torturous shrieks and an overhanging blanket of buzzing above, an extended noise and sample passage full of screams and terror, a return to the blanketing noise with drums to accompany it, and an unbearably tense rise to a denouement of static and electronic sound.
The album’s lyrics are exactly the sort you’d expect, and carry every bit of the scarred and bloodstained rage the atrocity machine imbues on the marginalized. Singles “Human Greenhouse” and “Flesh Market” both address the way the world is designed to bleed us dry, via our easily-influenced transparent online existences and as worker drones for the capitalism machine. “Cop Show” tears into the country’s obsession with police and the sensation of cop-driven tragedy: “Film the fire / Networks want the lead / Utter their catchphrase / ‘Police sources say’”. Current events highlight the subject of “Divine Violence”: the use of “divine right” as justification for atrocities. Closing the record is the title track, with words that resonate now louder than ever: “Debate death / To justify the end product / Birthed on a factory line / Cruelty after cruelty / Hollowed upon high”.
If you ask me, Atrocity Machine (and Body Void’s output as a whole) is not really music that’s meant to be enjoyed. It’s meant to be felt and experienced. You’re meant to spend 45 minutes tapping into a visceral interior, joining the artists in scorching the earth with frustration and vitriol. This is music as violence, music as protest, music as an expression of rage and pain. It’s an oppressive listen, and a substantial one at that, but its impact is undeniable. This album will make you feel things about the world we live in, and they’re things we need to be feeling.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Atrocity Machine is another outstanding album from Body Void, demonstrating impressive growth in terms of musical texture-building and an enhanced ability to meld the sonic into a cohesive whole with visceral humanity. It’s formidable stuff, and the band pulls no punches. You will feel their rage and frustration more keenly than ever before, and this record will leave an undeniable impression.