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It's still (barely) January, so year-end lists from the year before are still fresh in the minds of most. Granted, there are some eager to shed the built-up filth of 2014, but for the most part albums coming out in January are going to be compared to the top-shelf releases of last year. For a lot of acts, this could be a death knell but for artists such as Thou and The Body, it's simply a chance to top themselves. Last year, both the former and latter coaxed high praise from fans and writers alike with Heathen and I Shall Die Here respectively, and if that (somehow) weren't enough the bands also joined forces for Released From Love, a gnarled four-track EP that allowed both groups to further practice their scorched earth dark arts, which also included a Vic Chesnutt cover. Less than a year later, the double-barrelled doom returns with You, Whom I Have Always Hated.

While Released From Love is being re-released to go along with You, Whom I Have Always Hated, the two recordings are separate entities. That said, it's important to note that both the long-player and the extended player are not some sort of split with Thou doing X amount of tracks and The Body doing the other half. The four tracks on Released and the six songs on You both come from a place of shared discontent. The press release calls it a "collaboration," but "equally distributed contempt from both parties" may be a more apt descriptor.

Whether you want to think of this as Thou accentuated by the pulsing horror of The Body, or The Body with the added crushing thump of Thou, this record is an exercise in disharmony (in the best possible way.) In just six songs, the two groups lay waste to everything around them. Whether it's the death march percussion that starts "Her Strongholds Unvanquishable" or the opening riff on "The Devils of Trust Steal the Souls of the Free," there's an open-endedness that makes it possible to imagine these men in a room actively working together. Some may crow about "Terrible Lie," the Nine Inch Nails cover, but to be concerned with something so pithy misses the bigger picture. The seismic boom quality of You never ceases, which makes the seething, contemplative closer "Lurking Fear" all the more satisfying.

One of the more striking elements of the record is just how uncompromising it is. There’s a clear, artistic vision on display here, and it’s one that’s achieved in relatively short amount of time. Over the course of just six songs, hopelessness pounds through the speakers time and time again. Damning and unrelenting, it’s the sound of the warlord who waits before he strikes.

The new year may just be beginning, but it's hard to imagine the reverberations of this record quieting down anytime soon.

—Chris Brown

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You, Whom I Have Always Hated is available today from Thrill Jockey. Follow The Body and Thou on Facebook.

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