xoroAHbin by Vampillia and The Body

Release date: June 16, 2017
Label: Gilead Media

I think that some collaborations should just not happen. It’s just bound to be painful, unpleasant and something you wish you never listened to. So, when you put Vampillia and The Body together, you can be sure of the first two, but the last is definitely not something to worry about. The album xoroAHbin is going to hurt for sure.

The Body has gained widespread recognition by now as a sludge metal duo from Providence, Rhode Island in the United States, which has played with a lot of other groups (Full of Hell, Krieg, Thou) in a lot of places. Vampillia may be the less known in these part, but the group from Osaka in Japan is one of the weirdest, extremest and most dazzling acts out there. They’ve collaborated with the likes of Jarboe, Lustmord and Nadja. Legends of their live shows precede them and truth be told, this collaboration in itself is daunting without even having listened to the album yet.

What you get as a result is remarkably cohesive and full of variation. This album listens as a whole, though I guess there’s so much going on that you could just set your teeth in a track by itself. Threatening, hypnotic but also weirdly beautiful at times, the two groups evoke a variation of images with their eclectic sound. We start of with a tribal rhythm over forest sounds, while murmuring voices speak. String instruments offer a cultivated counter to the primitive beat on ‘Cold Bark Bite’. This evolves into blistering roar of noise, from which eventually a calm piano piece emerges.

That flows smoothly into ‘Chikatilo’, which appears as a classic piece with strings that gently create a sound of autumn. But then the ripping noise comes in, though very measured and rhythmic. A bit like Skinny Puppy blundering into a chamber orchestra and politely joining in. The rest of the song, the two elements look for a sense of harmony between tormented screams, rhythmic electronics and ghostly vocals. The beauty of it all, is that it is actually there, a balanced, evocative and immersive sound of industrial despair. ‘Hayha’ is even more harrowing and desolate. Harsh industrial beats with a whispering voice give way to a silent piano in the midst of the smoking remains of a wretched world. Only seconds of calm in an electric, droning storm it seems.

We start tracing black metal elements in conjunction with post-rocky streams of sound on ‘Far Away From the Light’. With distant cries of despair, the song sounds mournful and full of regret. A lamentation of something lost and precious, that can almost bring tears to the listener’s eyes. The way the sound is combined creates something new, something powerfully overwhelming in its negation and hurt. In there, beauty can be found, but it’s the beauty of decay and of something forlorn that disappears in white noise.

Final track is ‘The Day’, where a burst of noise is all you hear after a good 5 minutes of silence. This record is a surprise. Where you expect to be knocked senseless with extravaganzas of the sonic kind, the collaboration has yielded a work of art. So take this ride, because it’s a unique one. Eclectic, harrowing and quite a bit wonderful, all in one.

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