A Grade II listed 1877 building, formerly an actual institute for the deaf and dumb, before being transformed into a 300-capacity music venue, could not be a more perfect setting for The Body’s self-flagellating mixture of sludge metal, industrial and noise.
The Rhode Island group have released five albums in the last two years, including the standout One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache, a collaborative release with grindcore act Full of Hell. They’ve also worked with dark ambient producer The Haxan Cloak, black metal band Krieg and sludge metal act Thou over their career, building up quite a profile of exceptional metal co-conspirators.
Support act Uniform are a two-piece doom inspired band from New York. Michael Berdan’s voice is a raspy, aggressive yelp, delivered over bandmate Ben Greenberg’s whirling symphony of guitar techniques. Greenberg manipulates his six string to create sounds and textures that at times transcend the guitar as an instrument; there’s a deep rumbling bass line, there’s speedy death metal riffs, there’s exciting, smooth synth lines which provide a welcome reprieve from the intensity delivered by Uniform.
Shortly after, The Body emerge onto the stage. Slouched over an obscured array of noise-creating circuitry, vocalist Chip King does not look as though he has it in him to howl as excruciatingly as he does throughout the bands set. The high pitched, strangled gasp does not fit within the realms of doom, death or black metal; it is entirely its own thing that fits within The Body and The Body alone.
The two of them create such powerful vibrations that travel through the venue; from the small dancefloor where the assembled stand transfixed by the unholy rumbling, to the seating at the back of the room, where the deep bass travels powerfully through the wooden benches and into the very bones of the spectators.
Behind the pair, degraded video footage plays without explanation. The images range from black and white photos of a woman to avante-art experimental videos drained of colour. They only add to the eerie atmosphere conjured by the powerful music.
The band leave the stage without words, after just a fifty-minute set. Any acknowledgment that there was a crowd before the Body tonight would ruin the mystique that the normal-looking band members create. It would be easy to shout for an encore after such a short set, but the Body don’t deliver a music show in the traditional sense – it’s more like a piece of twisted, dark art and the crowd know that they couldn’t possibly ask for more.