In the mid-2000's, Neil Jameson of Krieg supposedly showed up during The Body's recording sessions for the Christs, Redeemers and I Shall Die Here releases at Machines With Magnets in Providence, Rhode Island, armed with nothing more than an acoustic guitar, a few pedals, and a bottle of whisky. This, and the like minded world views and musical inspirations between him and the duo of Lee Buford and Chop King led to the recording of something far different than anything they have laid down at that point. Years later, At A Loss Recordings is making those nine tracks available as a collaborative album simply titled The Body & Krieg, making it one of the most highly anticipated releases in the underground world in a long time. But is this secret experimentation of three respectable musicians worth checking out, or is it actually a painful nightmare best left buried in the studio's vaults?

If you're feeling nostalgic for Pig Destroyer's Mass & Effect EP, you wouldn't be too far off since the reason it was recorded is vageuly similar, though there is a major difference as far as the audio goes. For the most part, this effort has a production that is far more modern, and a bit too crisp for its own good. What was created relies heavily on distortions, dirty effects, and an ample amount of noise, industrial or otherwise. The Body & Krieg, however, stands as a relatively modern sounding effort, on par with previous The Body releases, or even noise rock offerings from Arabrot, though not at all as thick. When the trio moves away from simple drone constructs, there is a promising atmosphere present, often dismal and cold, screaming for a far more analog approach to enhance the intended filthiness. That griminess is where the collaboration stands out the most, yet is greatly held back time and again, often forcing itself into the avant-garde or experimental realms, two territories it really has no business being in.

A good example of that is "Carved Out and Caved In". It starts off with an industrial presence to the simple drum patterns that are met with held guitar notes and hints of feedback, as well as distortions that make it sound like the fluttering of a giant insect in the distance. The bells that commence about a minute in mask some of the mechanical aspects of that, creating a melancholic industrialism that is as cold as dormant steel in winter. The track plods along with a nice vocal range, playing up the despair angle even further. However, as you approach the five minute mark, you are greeted with nasal screaming in the forefront that sounds more comical than it is hysterical, diluting from the cold environment the band spent the previous five minutes establishing for one that would be incredibly dismal had those screams not been as eccentricly migraine enducing. Sadly, this is a major fault that haunts a good number of the tracks on this release.

That approach kicks off "Fracture" immediately, but thankfully is saved to an extent when additional rasps are layered into the mix, or just outright replace them. This occassional thickness nicely compliments the bludgeoning tribal drumming that pulsates underneath the ground layer of noise like some twisted infestation trying to escape the rotting torso to the world above. It's this mesh of undulation and ritualism that works best on this collaboration, screaming for a far more analog production to play up the dirtiness a lot more prior to the sudden cut to a short-lived slightly analog tinged depressive black metal conclusion. Then there's "Bottom of the Bottle, Bottom of the River", which also brings that pulsating presence into play, though it just goes a bit overboard with some of the additional noises that literally spin in the background, trying to fill up the steady, simple drum patterns a little more than the dull sounding chords and varied screams and growls manage to accomplish. Had it not been so busy in the background, this would have been a good enough start to ease the listener into the darker worlds that lay before him/her.

When the Krieg side of the band steps forward, such as the aforementioned closing of "Fracture", it does lead to some impressive material that even works alongside the eccentric shouting some of the time. "Never Worth Your Name" shows a trace of the permafrost covered landscapes possibly inspired from Burzum's keyboard instrumental days, working with the doom side of The Body's influence to create a truly depressing, frozen-to-the-touch experience that will haunt you well past the first time hearing it, even when you're cast into the static filled drone world once more about half way in. The rattling guitar effect comes off like being lost between radio station channels, like something you'd expect on an American or Darsombra recording, while that high pitched screaming can be heard in your ear as if the person were standing right next to you. It's a brief bout of interference, but it's enough to make the climax a really jarring experience that can actually leave you debating whether another time through is even worth it.

When the high pitch shouting isn't abused, or there's more to the compositions than just static or bland noise, The Body & Krieg has a lot to offer that may go over your head the first time through. Like most drone-oriented efforts, you really need to pay attention to the music's subtext to fully appreciate what the band is going for, and this collaboration makes sure you do just that, all the while throwing some far less subtle pieces your way that just don't have the same impact. In theory, The Body & Krieg is a coupling that should work out very well. There are countless bands in existance today that blend doom, drone, noise, and/or black metal together quite successfully. This offering, however, doesn't quite hit that similar or long lasting a mark. The potential is there, but the constant eccentric shouts and crisp digital audio quality make many of the songs far less powerful than they should be. This is an effort that needed an analog touch, and when it's channeled, or at the very least permitted it to flaunt what its got, it works out for the best to create moody, depressing, or downright dirty and intimidating pieces. Sadly, there's very little that sticks with you overall other than the remaining headache that lingers from killing off solid momentum, misplaced static, and falsetto-like shouts that are way too loud in the mix to be effective much of the time, leaving The Body & Krieg a full-length experimentation session that is more of an endurance test than anything else.

Review originally posted at Apoch's Metal Review.