A new dark depth to plumb
When it was announced that members of The Body, Lingua Ignota and Full of Hell would be coming together for a collaboration called Sightless Pit, the avant-garde and extreme metal communities quickly took notice, and with good reason. Each of these three bands has released massively acclaimed albums within their respective genres that have shifted the landscape of what one could expect from their style of music. In certain cases, these groups have ripped themselves away from traditional musical styles altogether, opting for something far darker and stranger. And while The Body and Full of Hell have multiple collaborations, and The Body and Lingua Ignota have collaborated on a few tracks and remixes, the opportunity to see such groundbreaking artists come together was one that couldn’t be ignored.
The album opens with “Kingscorpse” the lead single from the album if you could ever call something released by any of these artists a single. As an album opener, the track works wonderfully; it immediately immerses you into a perfect blend of each artist’s signature elements: the bassy, jazzy backbeats from Lee Buford, drummer of The Body, the almost hymnal chants of Lingua Ignota, and the crushing fuzzed-out shouts of Full of Hell’s vocalist Dylan Walker. When blended together it creates an impossibly soupy fog where anyone is apt to get hopelessly lost.
Moving forward through the album they maintain a similar usage of styles. Most of the vocal portions go to the fierce screams of Walker and Lingua Ignota’s chants rather than the high pitched shriek of The Body. The lack of vocals from The Body is initially disappointing but the way in which Buford imbues the second track “Immersion Dispersal” with such vicious intensity more than makes up for the lack of the traditional high pitched shriek. This track relies on a central section where Walker and Lingua Ignota trade-off vocals against a dense bass beat and sizzling guitar feedback, making for an unrelentingly intense experience.
Some tracks belong more to certain performers than others. For instance, “The Ocean of Mercy” is immediately recognizable as being primarily Lingua Ignota’s track. It consists of a lush organ portion supplemented by a tribal chant. The production of the track is sparser and more reserved than its predecessors but that makes it no less compelling. The small flares of noise and feedback added by The Body help to darken the track and force it into a space of incredible discomfort when it could have easily been an interlude.
“Drunk on Marrow” showcases Walker’s vocal intensity. While the production backing from Buford does cut down their unyielding pace to something more approachable, the experience of Walker’s blasting shouts piercing through a dense layer of horror film synth is fiercely unsettling. Buford never gets a full showcase all to himself, but the musique concrete elements of “Violent Rain” and “Whom the Devil Long Sought to Strangle” are unmistakably a part of their sonic canon, and the support of their production holds this album aloft over any who might dare contend with it.
As expected, the album closer is the most potent statement of the record and stands there dark, cold and impossible to tear yourself away from like an ugly face tattoo. It is a strangely calm track with barely perceptible lyrics from Lingua Ignota, but the true star, aside from Ignota’s phenomenal use of vocal fry to add an unnatural element to the track, is the contrast of the beautiful piano against a shiver-inducing high-pitched synth note. The combination results in a terrifyingly reserved psychological thriller of a track, more than worthy of placement in an Ari Aster flick.
Right from the start, there was no way that this album was ever going to be what anyone expected. If previous collaborations involving members of The Body taught us anything it was that they shift and change to bring out the best of each collaborator, taking their sound further to the edge and deeper into the darkness. With any luck, Sightless Pit is more than just some colleagues getting together to drop something fun and it is the start of something much much uglier.