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The Body, in Uniform: “Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back”

uniform the body

Nine Inch Nails seems to be the band du jour at least in regards to the experimental fringes of rock in the late 2010s. There’s something enduring about the sound they conjured between their debut and 1998’s Fragile, a span that covered heavy metal, synth pop, dance music, industrial, punk, New Wave, and hard rock, so enduring in fact that the band that made those records found even themselves unable to escape their all-encompassing vision, with every record after feeling more like an exploration of a small corner of that sonic world the group brought to the mainstream rather than a full and total artistic overhaul. We see strains of Nine Inch Nails in everyone from the late Dillinger Escape Plan to HEALTH to Harm’s Way.

So, it’s no surprise then that The Body, a group that may have begun as extreme metal but have slowly warped more into a heavy electronic music group, would tap into them so thoroughly.

And to be fair, it’s not unexpected. The last collaboration with Uniform, last year’s Mental Wounds Not Healing, lived in similar musical space. If this is strange, it is only because it makes so much sense; The Body do not have a long track record of collaborations that are the most immediately intuitive, turning in harsh experimental electronic music with Full of Hell and rather lush heavy rock with Thou. In each instance, both The Body and their collaborating group used the expanded lineup afforded to explore something outside of their normal space and to the credit of those collaborations both The Body and their collaborators have used those lessons learned to enrich and mutate their overall sound in the years since. So Uniform, a group whose body of work shows more than a fair resemblance to groups like Nine Inch Nails, arriving at a very NIN-friendly space with The Body feels almost too pat.

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In some world, this is a disappointment. After all, both groups are solid groups on their own, The Body having one of the greatest bodies of work in contemporary harsh experimental music and Uniform quickly building a street-level track record of solid bangers. It is not unfair that we should expect more coloring outside the lines when they mix their palettes together. But as said before, it is a disappointment in some world, not this one. The record delivered doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it also doesn’t have a dull track on it. The best track is actually “Day of Atonement,” a song which taps into the logical expansion of trap beats and lo-fi hip-hop in addition to the fuzzed out industrial rock and atonal shrieks.

But the rest, which stay within a kind of manic death-dance groove, are never displeasurable, managing to sound like the ideal music for a club’s goth/industrial setlist. This kind of musical fusion serves an important purpose, too: hardcore, punk, heavy metal, electronic music, and dance music are more overlapping circles than seperate worlds in that they are all body music, music aimed at making you move to the rhythm in some fashion rather than sit stone faced in a chair.

Uniform have been pushing hard in this direction since their last full-length The Long Walk, but signs could be seen as early as their EPs. The Body, meanwhile, have only seriously been pushing in this sonic direction since 2016’s No One Deserves Happiness. In terms of calendar time, that’s a short period for major evolution, but in that span The Body have released four LPs not counting this one, giving them plenty of time to hone things. And hone things they have; taken as a part of their discography, it’s their keenest slice of the more dance-oriented heavy material that they’ve delivered thus far. It falls short of last year’s solo LP I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, but that album was more deliberately crafted as a single cinematic experience versus Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back which reads as more discreetly track-focused.

Both groups are wise, expanding on the too-brief runtime of their previous collaboration but keeping things below the 40-minute mark. Still, it’s hard not to feel that the record being as concise as it is without some great congealing conceptual framework or stronger sense of sonic continuity weakens it somewhat. The tracks are strong front to back and the experience of the work as a record in full feels satisfying, but it’s hard to imagine it coming quick to mind as either group’s best.

But being the best is not always the most important goal. What Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back does affirm is that this creative union is fruitful and produces strong material for both groups. The fact that it means more steady work from the more patiently-paced Uniform as well as expanding the modern canon of post-Nine Inch Nails danceable heavy industrial rock is a nice added bonus. One hopes that its textures will open up the ears of fans of its constituent smaller pieces to the virtues of the other, metalheads to dance music, punk fans to pop, and so on.

Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back released August 16th via Sacred Bones Records.

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