RECORD REVIEWS

Absent In Body // Colin H. van Eeckhout: "It engulfs you and takes away the air that you breathe."

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words: Elena Mara Reed, photo: Absent In Body, 2017-01-27

Absent In Body is a project by Mathieu Vanderkerckhove, Scott Kelly and Colin H. van Eeckhout. I guess I could stop writing here, because these names already say a lot. Three notable people playing in perhaps the darkest metal bands and projects currently existing (Amenra, Neurosis, Syndrome, CHVEKingdom, Scott Kelly, Mirrors For Psychic Warfare, Corrections House, Tribes Of Neurot...). A supergroup?! Yes. But Absent In Body is much more than just a band formed by artists famous from playing in other groups. There is a special affinity between these men. Their transcendental music and friendship built up through sharing festival stages and touring together was bound to bear fruits. A natural fit. An explosive and brutal match. And a dream-come-true for metal fans across the globe…

If I was to direct an apocalyptic (or post-apocalyptic) movie, Absent In Body would make a perfect soundtrack. It is vitriolic and not easy to talk about in ‘conventional’ metal terms. A collision between forward thinking post-metal and industrial that is hard to pigeonhole. Let’s press the ‘play’ button and let the imagination run wild…

 

 

The album starts with drone that takes you to desert soundscapes, where few lonely souls adapted to survive the harsh conditions. At around 3:30 a sand storm hits. Multiple layers of Colin’s vocals, clean singing as well as highly processed shouts, frantic electronics and slowly crescendo guitar melodies build up suspense. Digital and ‘live’ sounds blend in as I am having a premonition…

Yet the sand storm is gone. Only ghostly liturgical chants are hunting me down from faraway (8:00).  The quiet, precious moments of CHVE-esque drone serve a temporary shelter from this overpowering beast. But the premonition cannot be ignored. Riffs, distorted beats and noise elements return twice as powerful (12:17). The trio show no mercy. Littered with electronics, Absent In Body flashbacks to Prurient, JK Flesh, Godflesh, Pharmakon or industrial menace of Chelsea Wolfe. It imprisons you in a dystopian factory, where countless layers of vocals, hardcore screaming and shrieks, grinding and cleans, embody an army of enslaved mechanical bodies. Repetitiveness reproduce their violent subjugation until eventually the assembly line stops. I am left with a high-pitched chittering sound of electrical currents (17:40). Irritating, devastating noise flowing through my veins. An end without a classic resolution.

 

photo: Stefaan Temmerman

 

"It needed to feel like there was no escape to it. It engulfs you and takes away the air that you breathe. It needs to be ferocious. No compassion. A beast, with no will to restrain"

 

When asked about Absent In Body, Colin said: “It needed to feel like there was no escape to it. It engulfs you and takes away the air that you breathe. It needs to be ferocious. No compassion. A beast, with no will to restrain.” Indeed, 20 minutes of Absent In Body feels like an atomic bomb. It is crushing. Written predominantly by Mathieu with Scott, spiced up by Mathieu’s electronics and programming and Colin’s ruthless voice, the album hits the pinnacle. Released on Hypertension records on Jan 20th. Yes, it is January and I already have one of the top 2017 releases [10/10].

 

Absent In Body