LOS ANGELES — Petrifying Portland sludge metal duo The Body brought its decimation to The Echo Tuesday. The performance came as a stark reminder of its primitive foundation, primally executed and terrifyingly brutal.
Lee Bufford’s drum setup subverted expectations right off the bat: a Roland electronic kick pad rather than a bass drum. This, coupled with his additional sampling pad, may hint at The Body’s embrace of unorthodox textures. It took only seconds for Bufford and Chip King to reinstate their basis in primitive noise metal. For all their collaborations and studio explorations, the two had no problem obliterating their audience with their feral sound.
Only those already familiar with The Body’s extensive discography could hope to properly discern cuts like “Hallow / Hollow” within a 45-minute exercise in sonic blunt-force trauma. King and Bufford didn’t show up to play crowd-pleasing hits. Rather than addressing the audience, they regularly bantered off-mic. They obviously revelled in their suffocating aura, bookending each of their songs with gargantuan noisescapes akin to a garbage compactor getting sucked into a black hole.
Even so, The Body’s performance remained surprisingly energetic. Several rounds of assault broke the band’s usual mantra of sluggish heaviness for uptempo passages of noisecore madness. Every one of Bufford’s kick pad hits triggered a seismic rumble, while each of King’s despondent cries pierced through the fray with panicked urgency. After 45 minutes of intensity and viscera, The Body left the stage with all eight-and-a-half minutes of “Ten Times A Day, Every Day, A Stranger” playing through the speakers. The pummeled audience had hardly recovered before Bufford and King came back out and starting chatting it up—all smiles after a good night’s walloping.
Growing recognition through her contributions to The Body’s 2018 album, I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer, Rhode Island’s Krystin Hayter garnered an expectant hush from the crowd as she set up her gear off-stage. Her solo project, Lingua Ignota, imparts classically-trained musicality to death gospel, industrial doom and everything between. With fans standing in a semicircle around her, Hayter began her confrontational diatribe against the evils of misogyny and quickly became the night’s highlight.
She lurched back and forth through the crowd, swinging industrial lighting like a cat o’ nine tails whip. Whether she meant to scourge her inner demons or the victimizers detailed in her songs, her menacing demeanor transfixed as much as it repelled.
She jumped without warning from mournful vibrato to maniacal wails, but kept her performance grounded in piano modulations and filthy noise. Cuts like “Woe to All (On the Day of My Wrath)” bristled with hellish intent, while the wide open wounds of “All Bitches Die (All Bitches Die Here)” left onlookers dumbstruck.
Los Angeles’s Thief started the night incredibly strong with a post-punk take on the sacramental electronics of debut LP Thieves Hymn in D Minor. Keyboardist-vocalist Dylan Neal filters Gregorian chants through trip-hop and intelligent dance music (IDM), as drummer Robert Chiang and bassist Chris Hackman added heft and groove to the atmosphere.
In spite of his jarring use of a voice box for audience communication, there was an alien charm to what Thief did. Neal frolicked in ecstasy as Hackman’s growling tones and Chiang’s popping backbeat brought the intensity to memorable heights. Neal’s vocals would skyrocket from ominous melody to spine-chilling screams, elevating a quasi-religious rave to emotional overdrive.