ABSENT IN BODY (BEL/USA/BRA) – Plague God, 2022 🇬🇧
Director’s note: We condemn all sorts of abuse, as we condemn the figure of Scott Kelly, for his intent of public manipulation, and above all for the abuse inflicted on his wife and children for over a decade. We also believe it’s essential that the bands involved with abusers, or other kinds of problematic characters, should take action against them. In this particular case, almost all bands, this one included, have publicly rejected the above mentioned and his actions, thus we have decided to go forward with the publication of this review.
The excessive veneration, almost cult-like, that surrounds everything that has to do with AMENRA and their related bands, has caused in me a strong rejection of any close activity with them. Even I planned to play the contrarian when reviewing this Plague God, being that individual that amongst all the hype, raises the «it’s no big deal» flag. For those who don’t know, ABSENT IN BODY is one of those thousands of parallel projects in which two members of the Belgian band are involved, in this case, Mathieu J. Vandekerckhove on guitar and Colin H. Van Eeckhout doing vocals, joined in the lineup by Scott Kelly of NEUROSIS at vocals and guitar and Iggor Cavalera of CAVALERA CONSPIRACY on drums.
But I can’t be that naysayer for a very simple reason: Plague God is an excellent work which I can say without hesitation that it can become a benchmark when it comes to mixing sludge, post-metal, industrial and ambient. Perhaps, for the musicians involved in it, saying such a strong statement about this project might be obvious to some, but the truth is, the high expectations and hype about ABSENT IN BODY are completely fulfilled and justified from start to finish.
ABSENT IN BODY works through contrasts. In «In Spirit In Spite» after a first part totally based on GODFLESH, partially thanks to Iggor’s absolutely cold and mechanical percussion, learned from his experience in MIXHELL, the song is stripped little by little, just remaining the deep voice of Scott and a couple of clean guitars, while the distortion fades away very slowly. The voice will become more and more present as its devastating speech progresses and completely destroys all our mental armor, while the oppression of «The Acres/The Ache» turns into almost meditative music with those environmental escapes, typical of its post-side.
Plague God is extremely impregnated with that cold and sharp industrial aura, akin to a modern morgue, and being in the likes of, not only the aforementioned GODFLESH, but also with CORRUPTED from Japan, due to their unnatural sludge, like an error of nature.
We’ve talked about ABSENT IN BODY and their contrasts before, but they only do exists when ABSENT IN BODY allows them, «Rise From Ruins» and «Sarin» have a quite different approaches, from point A to B, without unnecessary distractions, almost without going out of their way, like a scalpel on the meat. A couple of straight-up industrial/sludge tracks.
Those on the more orthodox side of the genre could argue that ABSENT IN BODY has a long way ahead to really be as dirty and desperate as NOOTHGRUSH or METH DRINKER, where the bad atmosphere soaks up everything. I would say that the influence of the power electronics on «The Half Rising Men» shows that the band if they truly want, can turn their music into a more unpleasant experience, but Plague God is not about that, but about small moments of catharsis, of liberation before their monolithic industrial sludge. They’re not the most extreme band on the scene, nor do they need to, they focus on having a perfect balance in less than 40 minutes between the harsh and the oniric sounds, creating a relatively «easy» listening sound, compared to the usual genre standards. A perfect starter guide for anyone who wants to delve into even deeper cliffs.