Uniform & The Body: Mental Wounds Not Healing (Sacred Bones)

Two leading outfits from the US underground team up to create a pulverising, frequently striking debut set

Released Jun 8th, 2018 via Sacred Bones / By Erick Mertz
Uniform & The Body: Mental Wounds Not Healing (Sacred Bones) The Body doesn’t sound like anything else out there. However often this might be stated about the Portland, Oregon experimental metal duo, each time it is no less true.

Gun obsessed. Cross-country transient. Pre-occupied with moribund topics, like death, and particularly suicide. The band’s last album (2018’s I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer) was named after a quote from Virginia Woolf’s suicide note. Yeah, modern life may be rubbish, but The Body seems to have their escape plotted. And while the escape from this mortal coil may indeed be plotted out, Mental Wounds Not Healing is not an escapist record. Not by any stretch of the imagination. There are no lush valleys to nestle the existentially addled imagination in, even for a second.

Working with New York duo, Uniform, The Body continues to mine similarly harrowing slurries of instrumental and vocal elements as they did on I Have Fought Against It. Like the last, this isn’t an album featuring peaks and valleys. On the contrary, Mental Wounds Not Healing presents a constant state of anxiety and distress. On Dead River the album’s opener, the pulsing electro-beats kick in right away with mechanized screams filling into the background. Guitars are scant on the track, as they are on the rest of the album, aside from gashes of feedback. Even more intense, The Curse of Eternal Life makes use of the same mechanized scream, only now as background over a pulsing, electronic beat and a snarling lead vocal that taunts. If distress-inducing aspects are what you’re looking for The Boy With Death In His Eyes makes me nauseous, both the image and the song, which is a throbbing assault on the senses. For me, picking this song would be like booking a small craft, cross-ocean voyage in a season of rough seas.

In My Skin reels it back some, slower tempos, a welcome swirl of guitars as respite but that is only temporary as that languid tempo dissolves into a morass of painful noise on We Have Always Lived In The Castle. The songs are all relatively short, most coming in the three to four minute length, which seems to fit Uniform’s punk aesthetic. Like this year’s I Have Fought Against It, the production on this record is top notch, capturing and accentuating an infuriating sound. Much of The Body’s work identifies as metal (extreme and experimental to be exact) but as the last couple of records reveal, metal isn’t exclusively a guitar genre anymore.

Working with another band (as The Body is prone to do) has done nothing to brighten up their sound. Mental Wounds Not Healing is a terrifying record that runs on seething, white-hot adrenaline. This record, as an experiment in noise aesthetics and mood metal, is a masterpiece. Another masterwork that stands alone. At no point in seven songs and at no point in twenty-seven minutes are there any life rafts of neutrality. Other bands are heavier. Other bands are louder. Nothing is darker than this though. Nothing. 7/10