Atrocity Machine by Body Void

Release date: October 13, 2023
Label: Prosthetic Records

Conceptualised as a horror movie soundtrack for late-stage capitalism, Atrocity Machine represents Body Void‘s exploration of their formidable doom-sludge sound from novel perspectives. The band examines the bleak present (and even bleaker future) of our current socio-economic system of oppression, rooted in violence, inequality, and exploitation. The band’s unyielding heaviness remains but now possesses an augmented atmospheric quality with the increased use of synths and harsh noise elements. Atrocity Machine is undeniably cataclysmic, exuding a grim and ominous atmosphere with malevolent sounding effects and sinister noise enhancements, showcasing Body Void at its most frightening.

Body Void, hailing from San Francisco, California, came into existence in 2016 as an American sludge/doom metal outfit. Currently comprised of Janys-Iren Faughn on noise/electronics, Willow Ryan on guitar/vocals, and Edward Holgerson on drums, this trio has crafted a distinctive musical identity. Their sonic landscape is marked by thunderous, bone-crushing riffs that create an oppressive and somber atmosphere. However, it’s their deeply introspective lyrics that truly set them apart. Body Void fearlessly delves into topics such as gender identity, depression, suicidal ideation, and the inexorable spectre of death. With a discography that includes three full-length albums, namely, Ruins (2016), I Live Inside a Burning House (2018), and Bury Me Beneath This Rotting Earth (2021), along with a collection of EPs and splits, Body Void has received acclaim from critics. They are heralded as a groundbreaking force in the sludge metal scene, pushing the genre’s boundaries and delivering a profoundly emotional musical journey.

An oppressive essence saturates the music of Atrocity Machine, a project that builds upon Body Void’s doom roots. This musical evolution encompasses skillful integration of synthesisers, samples, and noise, facilitated by producer Ben Greenberg, known for his work with Portrayal of Guilt, VR Sex, and Soft Kill. The entire mix is a masterpiece in creating something incredibly heavy while maintaining a separation that allows for appreciating each instrument. It’s a damn masterclass and helps to transform the band’s already crushing sound into a suffocating auditory zone. The artwork for Atrocity Machine, designed by Ethan Lee McCarthy and inspired by “Tetsuo: The Iron Man”, is as exquisite as it is disquieting.

 

The album itself begins with what amounts to a sonic palette cleanser, ‘Microwave’, a 29-second instrumental drone that helps to clear the mind. From there, we are plunged headlong into a thorough examination of the hellscape that is our world. ‘Human Greenhouse’ forces us to look at how we have become the fuel in a twisted machine of consumption, grown to be consumed in and through the very process of consumption itself. Starting with an absolutely crushing opening riff, the piece pounds you relentlessly as it describes how our desires are exploited through the dehumanising effects of capitalism and industrialisation. Expanding on this theme, ‘Flesh Market’ confronts the reduction of humans to mere meat for sale. Another crushing central riff helps paint a bleak picture of a dystopian society characterised by dehumanisation, economic inequality, and the relentless cycle of exploitation.

‘Cop Show’ is an examination and commentary on how such a system of exploitation is held in place through police violence. Willow’s voice cries out a critical commentary on the intersection of the criminal justice system, media portrayals of crime, and their impact on society. The ultimate irony here is that the very system that oppresses is also a source of entertainment. The song is the equivalent of the television show Cops being run through a meat grinder of distortion, cacophonous drumming, and peppered with keen social and political insights. The band turns their critical eye toward the pressing issue of environmental destruction in ‘Divine Violence’. This cavernous collection of riffs is a complex and thought-provoking narrative reflecting on violence, resistance, environmental concerns, and the broader implications of human actions.

The album’s closer and title track has been described by the band as their bleakest song ever. ‘Atrocity Machine’ is a dark and critical perspective on the state of society, emphasising themes of dehumanisation, exploitation, and the blurring of morality. Incorporating what almost felt like a nod to Controlled Bleeding, Willow cries out images of “bleached smiles” and a society valuing superficial appearances and using deceit to maintain its façade. The band acts like Virgil in Dante’s Inferno, taking us through our contemporary hell of lies and pain. However, throughout the album, there are mentions that suggest that this system of exploitation, violence, and lies is ultimately unsustainable. One is left with the sense that this system will eventually collapse, although the toll will remain high and we may not, ultimately, survive it.

To cut to the chase, I can’t recommend this album enough. Not only will it crush you, but it will make you think—or at least it should. Well done, Body Void! Well done indeed!

 

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