When you talk about something being heavy, what does that mean to you? Heavy as in the music, the tone of the instrumentation, the thickness of sound? Heavy as in the songwriting, the manner in which the riffs hit the ears? Heavy as in the subject matter, the lyrical inspirations of the album? With San Fransisco’s Body Void and their latest album I Live Inside a Burning House, you get the sum of all three of these, and the result is undeniably heavy.
Doom metal is defined by its slow and methodical tempo, which perhaps even more than its seemingly more violent counterparts in black metal and death metal allows a kind of physicality to be imparted into the music. This is the greatest strength of Body Void’s brand of doom, particularly on I Live Inside a Burning House; there is a monumental weight behind every guitar chord and drum hit that gives each measure the impact of a cannon hit. While most of I Live Inside…’s hour-plus run time is dominated by these crawling, atmospheric bits, Body Void mix in moments of black metal blasting, d-beat aggression, and hardcore sludge stompery to keep things from getting monotonous. For having songs whose run times hover near twenty minutes (if not going over altogether, a la 22 minute album closer “Given”), I was surprised at how well the arrangements worked in keeping me engaged. I find very often that albums over the 45 minute mark require intense effort to keep me focused on them, but I Live Inside… has all the ups and downs at all the right places to be successful over long-form songwriting, plus all the ambiance and space that I love in my doom.
The intense nature of the music on I Live Inside… is made even more powerful and poingant when accentuted by the emotional weight backing these songs. I Live Inside… is an album that shines a necessary light on harsh topics told from the perspective of someone with personal insight into them. Tackling issues of queer and transgender identity and mental illness, and how the intersection of these factors contribute to the day-to-day lives of some of society’s most marginalized people, Body Void have crafted songs that portray an honest look at human suffering, from anxiety and hopelessness to anger and rage at the barriers of society. It is a brave move to bare that much of one’s soul, but it is that element of heart and humanity present in I Live Inside… that keeps me coming back.
I Live Inside a Burning House continues building on a wave of excellent doom metal releases this year. Body Void have crafted something that hits on a musical and emotional level with power and authenticity, and shouldn’t be missed by fans of all things slow and heavy.