Review Summary: Exactly as good as you expected.
The collective amount of material Thou & The Body have released since the beginning of 2014 has started to blur the line between ambition and absurdity. With 2 full-lengths, 2 EPs, 2 compilations, and 1 split released in just over a year's time, doom metal behemoths Thou and experimental sludge duo The Body pair for a second time to present listeners with 23 more minutes of enveloping, drop-tuned arrangements: You, Whom I Have Always Hated.
As with their previous collaboration, Released from Love
, Thou’s sparse, crawling guitar riffs and throat-scraping vocals constitute the foundation of the album. Dancing around the edges, then, is The Body--jabbing and prodding at listeners from behind Bryan Funck & co.’s under-worldly wall of sound. This relationship is at times disappointing, given The Body’s aptitude for stand-alone atmospherics and post-metal composition; and yet the decision to commit to a singular sound, rather than allowing either band to diverge on musical tangents, is what elevates this partnership above other collaborative projects (such as Full of Hell & Merzbow’s recent release). Occasionally, The Body manages to upheave Thou’s typically compartmentalized mix, overdriving sections with mid-range noise. These movements aptly serve to create tension, contrast, and release when placed in proximity to the weightier, half-time riffs.
Thou’s penchant for motif-driven composition only appears on the last two tracks of the album; portentous melodies swell, repeat, and reiterate themselves as The Body chimes in with oscillating spurts of disruptive atonal blare, unintelligible spoken word segments, and concentrated feedback loops. Cleanly sung and harmonized vocal melodies hanging above both bands indicate the end of the record, a final movement that invites listeners to take their eyes off the throbbing earth and look upwards.
This release's strength--its seamless integration of two distinctive metal forces--necessarily entails some consequence. While any given track or riff from this album is just as defensible as any other each band has produced, a lack of cohesion prevents all of these moments from realizing their full impact. Songs are individually well written, but the album is more of a collection and less of a unified project, lacking the gravitas that Thou's Heathen
or The Body's I Will Die Here
utilize to summon immensity and tragedy.
You, Whom I Have Always Hated
is a suitably heavy album, a skillful collaboration, and a fine addition to Thou & They Body's onslaught of material. All of this, however, is insufficient to break ground on territory not yet exploited by previous efforts.