Chicago experimental indie haven Thrill Jockey has become a somewhat surprising exponent of extreme metal of late, putting out excellent albums by divisive Brooklyn outfit Liturgy and cross-platform supergroup Wrekmeister Harmonies, and on October 14 the label will earn itself more kvlt kudos by releasing two of the heaviest long-players of the year. Lets start with Christs, Redeemers, the third full-length offering from Portland-based doom-mongers The Body, which certainly makes for one of the most disturbing records I’ve heard in a while. Now we all know metal is meant to be scary, but unlike many metal bands, whose “scariness” is often cancelled out by (unintentionally) comical “cookie monster” vocals, this duo actually manage to sound like the stuff of nightmares, with guitarist Chip King’s piercing screams – think the kind of tortured howls the makers of the Hostel films would flinch at – designed to appeal exclusively to people who enjoy dragging their fingernails down chalkboards. He’s joined (as on previous releases) by the Assembly Of Light Choir, whose massed chants recall sacrificial rituals and The Omen whilst creating extra tension via their uneasy juxtaposition with the other sounds in The Body’s arsenal: deployed against stagnant swamps of sludgy guitar filth, sheets of scabrous electronic noise, disembodied samples and Lee Bruford’s pummelling, powerhouse drums these elegant, angelic voices take on a demonic edge, luring the listener into their lair with the promise of a good horror DVD before slitting their throat and making a suit out of their skin. You can keep your corpse-paint and Satan-worshipping, because The Body are the real bogeymen; the shotgun-wielding men in balaclavas that invade your home and subject your loved ones to terrible violence. Like Swans, this is catharsis through crushing cruelty, malevolent misanthropy channelled into bleak, brutal noise. Check out “To Attempt Openness” below, and listen to Christs, Redeemers in full via Pitchfork Advance.
Somewhere near the opposite end of the scale we find Retrash, the Thrill Jockey debut from Chicago’s Oozing Wound, three dudes who sound like they have a combined mental age of 45 and whose primary goal in life is – simply – “to slay”. As you might expect from a band called Oozing Wound, featuring musicians with time served in bands with monikers like Bad Drugs and Cacaw, these guys don’t take themselves too seriously; in fact their almost reverentially authentic take on classic crossover thrash is so boisterous you could almost mistake them for a tribute act dedicated to the output of Bill & Ted’s Wyld Stallyns. Completely unconcerned with the idea of being “cool”, the trio (Zack Weil, Kevin Cribbins and Kyle Reynolds – they even have metalhead names!) play as though they’ve never considered the notion that their music – a loving homage to Metallica, Slayer, Napalm Death and their ilk – might ever find an audience, shredding, screeching and blasting their way through the half-hour, seven song set with the boundless enthusiasm of excitable teenagers and the technical proficiency of seasoned veterans. It may be aggressive, but it’s a good-humoured, harmless aggression, an A-Team style explosion where human beings are thrown into the air like rag-dolls but no blood is shed; if The Body are all about the threat of real violence, Oozing Wound are more concerned with the cartoon variety, Jerry tricking Tom into hammering his own tail or Wile E. Coyote running face first into a wall with a tunnel painted onto it whilst the Roadrunner stands sniggering in the background. It’s not all juvenile japes though: there are some seriously impressive tunes here, packed with killer hooks (“Welcome To The Spaceship Motherfucker“‘s “Ace Of Spades”-on-even-more-speed riff) and tricky prog-inspired gear-shifts (the incredible stoner-psych stomper “Call Your Guy”, below), making Retrash an endlessly rewarding listen for discerning metalheads and snot-nosed punks alike. Stream it over at Pitchfork Advance.