Of the many collaborative projects the Body have taken on in recent years, their work with Full of Hell has produced the most unlikely and uncanny chemistry. The former play a curious iteration of droning, unpredictable sludge, while the latter are fierce powerviolence innovators that prefer 60-second tracks and blast beats. The two bands paired up for One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache last year, and their second LP together picks up where that excellent record left off.
Despite having distinct styles, the musical touches each group provides here blend together almost seamlessly. Save for Chip King and Dylan Walker's respective howling, it can be hard to tell exactly where each element in the grimy mix of sounds is coming from.
On "Didn't the Night End," for instance, blown-out synths are swirled in with King's thick, bottom-heavy guitar drone. A stuttering drum machine slots itself in with a maelstrom of pounding kicks and cymbals that could be coming from David Bland, Lee Buford, or both simultaneously. A deep 808 tone punches through the whole mix, the bass hitting hard — it almost sounds like a Death Grips track. The lurking influence of hip-hop is evident elsewhere on the bouncing first half of "Master's Story" and in the quivering hi-hats of "The King Laid Bare."
As if there weren't enough contributors tossing sonic paint at this canvas, additional guest features further complicate the bands' endeavour. Chrissy Wolport, who provided the beautiful vocal counterpoints that filled out 2016's No One Deserves Happiness, makes some subtle contributions along with Sandworm's Ben Eberle. Brian Chippendale's frenetic snare rolls are unmistakable at the beginning of "Our Love Conducted With Shields Aloft," though they sound intuitive sitting in the middle of this chaotic tracklist.
On the whole, Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light once again challenges the expectations of listeners and players alike. Yes, fans of Full of Hell will find grinding blasts of noise on "Earth Is a Cage" or at the end of "Farewell, Man," and fans of the Body will be treated to pummelling breakdowns, but these moments are fleeting. This is the kind of odd, idiosyncratic record that makes collaboration so compelling; whether or not it appeals to you, there's absolutely no way you've heard a metal release quite like it this year. (Thrill Jockey)