Rumors that Providence's two-piece doom band the Body would be returning to town began as a whisper campaign in late April. With whom? No one knew. Flyers were not hung. The bar's monthly calendar had not yet been posted. Googling "The Body Portland" didn't help any, yielding only collision-repair quotes and tattoo services. If the Body were coming, it would be to little fanfare indeed.
Somehow, plenty of people got the message. As the Body set up, Geno's was typically packed, a darklit bar with darkclad figures. The crowd seemed unusually engaged, hopeful; perhaps not yet fully saturated with beer. Of course, they had a right to be excited. The Body are hardly just another metal band. They play slow, but not slow enough for slowness to be their thing. They're plenty heavy, but — hailing from a punk patrimony rather than a metal one — are unconcerned with technical chops or solos. Their records emphasize their distinction from both genres, incorporating 13-member choirs, brass arrangements, and syncopated samples of Tuvan throat singing.
Live at Geno's, that slick production aesthetic was whittled down to a simple core. The Body are merely two men. On stage, their shirts seemed shellacked to their chests by a week's worth of sweat. The textured cacophony on their records would now, it appeared, be attempted via a single guitar and a steady beat. There was no choir, no trickery, no posturing.
As the Body rang their opening notes, somebody farted, which felt oddly appropriate. During the pummel of "A Curse," the front line of tall skinny boys began dancing, in sync, an evolved sort of headbanging that begins at the waist. Though their recorded aesthetic may suggest otherwise, the Body are not a theatrical band. They played their songs without announcement, each a percussion-led mid-tempo dirge welding the sonic twins of guitar and vocals.
Metal will always be home to corpse paint, devil locks, and explosions. There will always be inhumanly fast tempos, glacially slow riffs, and transcendental feedback. Distractions galore. In contrast, the Body conjure a humanity much more primal and banal. They play with a repetitious, undifferentiated ugliness, reminding us that the other stuff, while fun, is just privileged fantasy like anything else. If the Rapture truly arrives, that sort of honesty will be appreciated.