Some doom metal is called such for merely clinical reasons, i.e. its unsettlingly slow tempos, seismically heavy guitar tone, and dark lyrical themes. Other doom metal genuinely sounds like the end of the world.
Providence, Rhode Island doom/sludge cultists The Body occupy prime real estate in that latter category. In an age where virtually every event has musical accompaniment, if the world does decide to end in 2012 (spoiler alert: not betting on it), I wouldn't be surprised if somebody licensed The Body's newest LP All the Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood as its official soundtrack.
The seven minute choral introduction to album opener “A Body” is like a rapturous, heavenly light, bathing us one last time before the band, a punishing duo of guitar and drums, opens the earth to swallow us whole for the remaining two-and-half minutes of the track. This song sets the stage for the rest of the record, coupling destructive, anti-social, truly doom-laden metal with unusual, atmospheric and unsettling sonic partners.
Third track “Empty Hearth,” for example, chops up actual doomsday cult chanting (from this collection, for those who just can't get enough doomsday cults) into a glitchy, inhuman counterpoint to the duo's industrial crunch that, once you get past the chanting's creepiness factor, is actually kinda catchy.
The chorus from “A Body” return multiple times, to near-transcendent effect, first on more straight-ahead doom song “Even the Saints Knew Their Hour of Failure and Loss” and again on the jaw-dropping closer “Lathspell I Name You.” Elsewhere, on “Song of Sarin, the Brave,” a straight-outta-Jonestown fanatic (or possibly William S. Burroughs or somebody, who knows) rants about pain and suffering over the band's mood-setting metallic creep, bowing out from time to time to let them storm back into the foreground.
That isn't to say that this record is great simply because of its non-metal aspects. Yes, the way those parts are integrated elevates the record, and they're certainly excellent additions that create a compelling listening experience, but the true praise goes to the band themselves. This LP would be nothing without the excellent principle performers, as well as their sense of aesthetic and considerable curatorial skills. The expressive vocal howls and heavy yet diverse guitar work lend body to The Body, and the outstanding, creative drum work propels this apocalyptic, nihilistic obelisk of an album to sludgy, outsider doom metal genius.
All the Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood is similar in many ways to last year's surprise metal masterpiece, Liturgy's black metal/shoegaze bar-raiser Renihilation (which if you check back to my year-end list for 2009, you'll notice that I tragically slept on, waiting until Zmaj's year-in-retrospect kicked me in the ass enough that I went and got it) in its transcendent, almost religious quality, rendering classic-quality metal alongside atmospheric touchstones that combine to create a wholly new experience in their respective genres. Also like that album, All the Waters of the Earth Shall Turn to Blood is a strong contender for album of the year, and barring a rush of genius in the next three months (i.e. Orphan or the new Pig Destroyer record) it should rank heavily on many metal year-end lists.