The human mind is a complex locale. Torrential downpours of emotion combine with creeping, brooding clouds that pour out their luggage on the forest floor of life experiences down below. It’s a jungle out there — or in there, rather.
That environment birthed the raw 2018 record from the alternative heavy metal band Body Void, called I Live Inside a Burning House.
Climates, metaphorical and otherwise, change. For the past five thousand years of human existence, literal jungles haven’t been confined to a certain set of square miles or kilometers. Animal species, plant species, and weather events spill out. Boundaries aren’t concrete.
Neither are the boundaries between different types of music concrete on ILIABH. Instead, the musicians’ experiences with textures ranging from punk and hardcore to doom and sludge spill out and blend organically. There’s speed and there’s some more controlled building, too. The artists are taking from whatever paint they like when crafting their — at this time — newest work of art.
Guitarist and vocalist Will Ryan explains: “Our goal is to combine seemingly opposing influences. Doom and sludge have always incorporated fast and noisy parts, but we hope to do it in unexpected ways that highlight those contrasts in the extreme while still being coherent and seamless, if that makes sense.”
“For us there’s a constant learning process and evolution from track to track. We’ve only ever had a general idea for what we want to accomplish with the band, so each song comes from a place of exploration based on what we’ve already done as well as experimenting with new ideas that develop along the way,” he continues. “Songs like “Haunted” and “Trauma Creature” from I Live Inside a Burning House build directly off of songs like “Ruins” and “Monolith” from our previous material and going forward we’ll most likely build off those songs from ILIABH.”
“I’ve been in other bands that very much stick to a consistent singular style, but with Body Void it’s kind of about seeing where things take us,” he adds.
The Personal Aspect
Mental themes spill out and blend together in Body Void’s music too. Speaking of listeners, Ryan says: “I’d probably tell them the music does come from a emotionally genuine place and hope that aspect connects with them if nothing else does.”
He explains: “The band kind of functions as an outlet for certain emotions and experiences that are harder to communicate in everyday life, specifically regarding mental illness and queerness. That sense of exploration extends to the lyrics as well. I work out a lot of personal thoughts and feelings by writing about them, so that’s how I try to approach the lyrics for Body Void. I’ll sit down with a general feeling or topic and see what comes out.”
Rather than sticking to one preconceived framework, the band pours themselves into their work both musically and thematically. Ryan sings about issues ranging from onslaughts of mental turmoil from the inside to onslaughts of hatred against LGBTQ identities that stem from the outside. Those two different forms of hate — mental illness driven self-hatred and society-driven hatred of one’s identity — leave a thin spot for us to actually operate. Body Void carves out a space in that spot and while remaining an extreme metal band, circles back around to serving intensely human and personal purposes.
“We’re not trying to convince anyone of anything or impart anything specific beyond feeling and experience,” Ryan explains. “I feel angry and exhausted regarding the oppression of LGBT people and the struggle of living with mental illness in our society. It’s a daily weight and that’s largely what the album is about I think.”
“I think if there are people who stand counter to the existence of people of certain identities they’re not worth engaging with beyond making sure they don’t hurt anyone, individually or structurally,” he continues. “That said I know there are a lot of well meaning people who are just ignorant on these matters and, especially if they’re friends or family, I feel an obligation to educate them the best I can.”
Still, that’s not the main direction of the album. It’s not as though I Live Inside a Burning House is just a remake of some classic Black Flag album. It’s a dynamic flourishing work that bursts forth from the ruins of a metaphorical mental burning house, taking the listener’s hand through the rubble — and not letting go.