Album: The Death of Me
In the distance, through the thick grey fog and dense, suffocating humidity, a knell rings—once, twice, a third time—followed by a stifling, uncomfortable silence. A sparse handful of men and women—maybe one or two children, and a couple unfamiliar faces—are gathered around a narrow, haphazard six-foot deep hole in the ground. Over the moderate splash of rainfall, you can barely hear the words of a man—some nobody being paid twelve bucks an hour who never knew you—says some words about the life you lead and the person you were.
You’re looking at your own funeral, removed from space and time, looking not from the lofty heights of heaven, nor from the hellish corners of Hades, but from somewhere…in between. This is the end of the “you” that the handful of acquaintances and estranged family members knew. This is depression, depravity and bleak, bitter, angst-driven anger.
This is The Death of Me, the debut full-length by Floridian ultra-heavyweights Bodysnatcher, and it is an example of unrefined, unrelenting, unapologetic heaviness with an introspective, aggressive and anguish-tinted hue. Combining slamming elements with heavy hardcore and downtempo deathcore in a fashion that practically defies description, Bodysnatcher may have taken their sweet time in composing their debut full-length record, but every second spent in wait is bound to repay the listener ten-fold with The Death of Me, a devastating display of murderous, magnificent aggression.
Bodysnatcher and heavy have been practically synonymous since day one—that hasn’t changed on The Death of Me, so if you were (for whatever reason) afraid of that, put that fear to bed. From the first seconds of “Stab,” the band are precipitously punishing, albeit in an infinitely more dismal and dreary way. “Stab” is a curious way to start the album, as it’s one of the more subdued and sullen songs on the album—a far cry from uproarious displays of relentless brutality like those found in “Rancid” or “Death’w Power”–but still not without aggressive, immense percussion from drummer Dominic Guggino. Guggino brings a punchy, powerful and hardcore-tinted style of drumming to The Death of Me that is the first step on the band’s million-mile journey since the critically acclaimed and infamously intense Abandonment. From “Stab” to “Bone Casket” and throughout the end of “Suffering,” Guggino’s drumming treads a fine line between a sludgy, sullen candor and pummeling speed. “Heavy Gloom” or “Closer to Hell” sees Guggino hitting the best of both worlds, with moments of grisly, straightforward aggression and those of low, slow, bone-busting brutality. Songs like “Rancid,” especially, see him working with bassist Colton Whelan to accomplish the craft and perfection of Bodysnatcher’s earth-shaking low end (which is no small feat, given how low they tend to go). Together, the duo are simply second-to-none when it comes to capturing primal, bloodthirsty rage. They set the stage for the work of guitarists Ben Bamford and Frankie Cilella, a dynamic duo that take downtempo deathcore and put it in a blender with heavy hardcore, slamming aggression and a bit of unfiltered Floridian fury to bring one of the most comprehensively crushing displays of devastation the listener will have ever heard. Because of their across-the-board influences and blend of styles, it’s difficult to pit Bodysnatcher—especially with Bamford and Cilella at the helm—as any one genre. Instead, they’re simply heavy, and “Stab” showcases this in the most unique light. An eerie, foreboding introduction that quickly turns for the more murky and malevolent, “Stab” ensures that the listener will be on edge throughout the entire release, never really sure what the duo have up their sleeve next. This is true as “The Death of Me” bombards them with riffs and churning breakdowns, just as “Rancid” drops one of 2017—and maybe even the decades—heaviest breakdowns yet, preceded by a bouncy, bombastic build-up. The point is that Bamford and Cilella—supported by Guggino and Whelan—bring pure evil and prominent power to life on every track that The Death of Me has to offer.
With Bodysnatcher’s brutality well established by their cavalcade of crushing instrumentation, relentless breakdowns and over-the-top elements combining heavy hardcore and gritty, grungy slam into their downtempo deathcore backbone. Where things go from aggravated and aggressive to misanthropic and potentially murderous, however, is with the addition of the ferocious vocals from frontman Kyle Medina—who may not look like the titan he is behind the mic, but rest assured, he brings enough aggression to level mountains and reduce the world to ash with little more than his vocal chords. “Stab,” again proving itself the oddball of the album, sees Medina taking a more introspective and bitter turn inwards on The Death of Me, where songs like the album’s titular number, Rancid, or “Closer to Hell” are fist-swinging displays of sucker-punch-your-grandma style hatred. Kyle invokes violence with a monstrous ranger and marvelous endurance, dominating each and every track The Death of Me has to offer—even more so when working alongside labelmate and contemporary vocal powerhouse Darius Tehrani of SPITE, or Chris Whited of King Conquer/Lost Fortune. The point is that Bodysnatcher’s musicianship is just half of what makes them such a uniquely visceral and enthralling band—the other half pouring out of Medina’s throat like a geyser. Combining emotion, brooding depression, awe-inspiring anger and touches of misanthropic angst into the mix, Medina’s work on The Death of Me is his best yet—which, again, considering his efforts on Abandonment, is saying something.
The Death of Me might be a conceptual funeral for the character that serves as the album’s leading role—but what is truly represents is the death of complacency. Bodysnatcher take a handful of genres defined by extremes and take them even one step further over the edge. Every song brings something new and immense to the table, pounding the listener from head to toe with aural abuse until they can’t stand, speak or do anything short of beg for more. Any record that—in the slew of surreal and incredible 2017 releases we’ve been graces with so far—can keep me coming back for more than eight months on end deserves nothing but the highest praise I can afford. So sit down, buckle up, loosen up that neck and get ready for something that surely stands to be the death of what you consider to be truly heavy.
For Fans Of: Desolated, Gunishment, Traitors, REX
By: Connor Welsh