Body Void’s Dismal Plea Reflects The Doomed Truth: “Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth” (Review)
Doom metal is perhaps the perfect genre through which music can express the conditions of the apocalypse. Impossibly-long tracks ebb and flow like a boiling shoreline, an encroaching tide of guitars trudge and crawl like toxic sludge, cyclonic drums pound, crash, and whip against the scorched Earth. Add some hallowed vocals atop this distressing combination and an adroit approximation of the worst effects of the anthropocene starts to form.
Body Void's newest album Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth brutally channels this apocalyptic suitability, giving audible shape to humanity's worst nightmares about where our future may be headed. The New England/Bay Area duo recorded the album last summer during the height of the nationwide protests and pandemic confusion. The broiling mood that gripped the country is emulated brilliantly through Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth's anguished, venomous tone. Its four tracks (each of which run at between twelve and thirteen minutes) are mini-symphonies of agony, provocative and bold doom metal visions that speak of an unrelenting horror and despair.
It's tempting to say that Body Void's approach is one that allows very little light in, turning away from the bright glow of goodness and scurrying off into the dark. Yet, as a close listen to Bury Me Beneath This Rotted Earth reveals, Body Void are lamenting the death of the Earth, rather than welcoming its demise. Their shrieks and howls cry out for justice and compassion, yet find little to hush their screams. Opener "Wound" makes this sense of despair literal: "we live here/by a hole/the earth has opened wide/to scream its curse". Rather than consciously turning away from the light, Body Void are eulogizing its absence, grasping around for whatever remains, their panicked cries echoing around the ever-growing chasm in the Earth.
"Forest Fire" utilises a more accusatory tone, taking aim at those standing by as the planet ignites and burns. Lines like "the problem's not yours/you're here to win/burn/the house" sardonically attack the capitalistic short-term mentality that matters little "until the flames/lick at your skin". The track is especially murky and viscous, even when compared to the rest of Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth. When it finally does kick up a gear, it erupts into a sort of half-blast beat, a ferocious caveman beat that comes from a place of pure, seething anger. It manages to speed up to a 'full' blast for about twenty seconds, but can only collapse in on itself, worn out and depleted.
While Body Void's lyrical approach intelligently channels the duo's impassioned rage at the state of the planet, the reason it works so well is because it's married up alongside some truly disturbing and macabre imagery. The hole-in-the-Earth metaphor of "Wound" and the scorched images of "Forest Fire" are both palpable and expertly-realized, however it's the horrific visions of the final two tracks "Fawn" and "Pale Man" that really succeed in burning themselves into the mind. "Fawn" imagines an elemental creature/spirit that takes control of its host, forcing them to see the world through its eyes ("you are the fawn/it grows inside you"), while "Pale Man" uses the titular creation as a metaphor for critiquing colonialism and general western self-appointed superiority. It contains a ton of piercingly smart lines, the best of which being "he kills to feel the power of his place/shits in fear if you look him in the face".
The album's greatest achievement is that its perspective manages to go beyond nihilism, despair or any such anthropocentric worries. Instead, it becomes the sound of the Earth itself, howling back at us, utilizing a mode of metal that is perfectly primed for dealing with such a spatially enormous and existentially weighty topic as the end of mankind. Body Void have given voice to the Earth, even though it cannot speak our language. Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth is not just a punishing, hallowed work of physical doom metal, but one that is also inherently moral and eerily soulful.