There’s angry music, and then there’s downright frightening music. And sure, each has been effectively and brilliantly performed with traditional instruments for centuries. But decades of digital processing and synthesis have not only upped the intensity of metal, party music, and experimentalism, they’ve trapped and traumatized listeners in the spaces where these intersect. We’ve explored the eerie interplay of the electronic and the acoustic going back at least as far as Suicide and Bruce Springsteen, but there’s a modern proper partnership that’s hacking what we know and like about heavy music.
Last year’s Mental Wounds Not Healing found NYC industrialists Uniform and Rhode Island noise-doom duo The Body beginning to share notes on their particular forms of musical catharsis. One group would drop mercurial science, the other would fill in the studio spaces left for them with their harrowing details. If this collective’s first album formed the outer tendrils of the cat-5 hurricane, Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back is the legend-strong core surrounding the eye of the storm.
On this second joint album, Uniform and The Body make cohesive and even melodic connections between metal’s most thematically aggressive subgenres and the most ear-blistering electronic ones, your industrials and powernoises of the world. Uniform represent your woofer in this cursed speaker, with Michael Berdan’s distant vocals and Ben Greenberg’s guitar and other excursions on the low end. The Body comprise the tweeter, Chip King’s overcompressed vocals and Lee Buford’s programming coming together to screech like static or howling wind.
Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back blares at a frequency that hasn’t resonated since the days when Skinny Puppy wore raw meat onstage. There are sequenced nods to chopped and screwed hip-hop in “Patron Saint of Regret” and “Day of Atonement,” and the processed female chant of “Waiting for the End of the World” is straight nightmare fuel. But it’s King’s terrifying scream-as-lyric that’s the album’s secret weapon, a yin to death metal’s constantly growling yang. He imbues the LP with all manner of horror, whether he’s following a melodic line in “Penance” or invoking bad spirits during album finale “Contempt.”
The clearest words here are the album title itself, a callback to Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” and Nebraska and the existential dread tied up therein. Otherwise, what King and Berdan actually say on Everything That Dies Someday Comes Back means little. It doesn’t have to. All that you know is all that you feel, and this music from Uniform and The Body feels like the end of someone’s world. The only relief is that it probably isn’t yours.
Adam Blyweiss is associate editor of Treble. A graphic designer and design teacher by trade, Adam has written about music since his 1990s college days and been published at MXDWN and e|i magazine. Based in Philadelphia, Adam has also DJ’d for terrestrial and streaming radio from WXPN and WKDU.