Often times, a split record can feel as if it was assembled separately and then smashed together to fit an under ten tracklist. When The Body and Thou instead opt to come together to create a record as one entity, the results can be a maddening downward spiral into ancient forms of broken rituals and splintered spines. At every turn, their 2015 double release, Released From Love / You, Whom I Have Always Hated is a shock to the nervous system that enacts the fight or flight response from the listener, with nowhere to run.
Hope is an element that is seemingly always missing from The Body and Thou’s discography, so for the two forces to combine seems like a match made in purgatory. The introductory track, “The Wheel Weaves as the Wheel Wills” is a funeral that slowly buries the listener in mounds of dirt until the eyes are the last thing to be covered. As the shouts of “Life has meaning, pain has meaning. Through stripes and shame, through tears and blood. Through doubts and fears, and all that makes the difference. I see an end,” powers on while an instrumental storm rages beyond the grave.
The thunderous drums and auxiliary percussion that crashes, the channeling of these harsh wails that come from Chip King alongside the dead vocals of Bryan Funck is a polarizing mix. The styles of sound are similar for production-wise on both bands, but these two different vocal styles are able to collide head-on and build something that is truly terrorizing. The repetition of “I see an end, I see an end” forms a sense of organization behind the insanity and while never a full-sprint, Released From Love / You, Whom I Have Always Hated will do everything in its power to break the listener down.
As each track progresses on, this death cortège is a lumbering giant with disfigured features. Released From Love / You, Whom I Have Always Hated is a monster with little in regard for compassion as the pulverizing motions show nearly no sign of ceasing. There is something magical, however, about the composure that The Body and Thou have as a unit that can embody a spiritual undertone that is more about an inevitable silence rather than everlasting life.
While it is both exemplified and feared for their hostility, The Body and Thou work together to sculpt the embodiment of pain. While the listener struggles to get footing on the complex landscape, they extend their foot in a crushing motion to finish the job. Through eight tracks and 40 minutes of misery, the writhing spirit can experience being vanquished for one final time.