Words: Drew Pitt
Since its very inception, extreme music, and particularly metal have leaned heavy to the left. You may not guess that given the associations that hardcore punk and metal fans have these days, but if you think for a second that a bunch of boys from Birmingham, one of whom lost part of his fingers in a factory, weren’t lefties then you need a history lesson. Since the days of Black Sabbath, the presence of anti-capitalist messaging in metal has come and gone, but it mostly died out after the nineties.
Once groups like Rage Against the Machine and System of a Down either hung up their instruments or otherwise disappeared, the messages of economic anxiety in metal retreated to the underground. Well, from the underground a new champion has arisen, Melted Bodies, and their new album Enjoy Yourself takes the messages and music of the aforementioned bands and cranks it to 11. Even better, every single second works.
The achievement of this record really shouldn’t be understated. Despite being a relatively new band, Melted Bodies pulls together a surprisingly complex album with some of the most searing and acerbic lyrics in metal. The sound of the album is immediately going to register to most as “System of a Down but harder” and that’s actually a pretty fair comparison. Not only does the vocalist mimic Serj Tankian’s manic approach, but the lyrical content is relatively similar. Much of the record focuses on the ravages of consumerism on the human psyche, but does so in a zoomed-out view.
Instead of leaning into the individual, they tackle large concepts like private healthcare (“Funny Commercials”), mental health (“Club Anxious”) and advertising (“Ad People”). This leads to moments that are downright hilarious such as “Ad People’s” declaration “We only want the pretty-pretty people, get the hell out genuine people.” but also presents a pretty harrowing look at society. The preceding track, “99 Scents” takes a break in the center of the track to visit the internal monologue of a working class stiff who just lost his job but they’ve “got a little money saved up, and (they) can afford it, because (they) deserve it.” The group’s absurdist delivery underscores the futility of centering our happiness on consumption.
Best of all, Melted Bodies understands both the times and their audience. Where Rage Against the Machine shouted about actions that must be taken, or otherwise blatantly called out injustices wherever they were present (and boy were they present) Melted Bodies gets to the core of the system; absurdity.
In tone and presentation the album drips with the manic objectivity of things like Chapo Trap House, Disco Elysium and American Psycho. It’s not interested in approaching its targets as something with positives. We’re all doubtlessly aware of the benefits of capitalism, or at least the benefits it has brought to the people at the top, but to hear its disadvantages called out in such black and white terms, and with such glee, is stomach churning.
Thematically it’s clear that this is one of the most cohesive records of the year, but it exists in the same category musically. Each song sizzles and sparks with energy. Whether it’s the chugging mad “Ad People” or the tribal jaunt of “Phone Tumor” the group is able to explore a wide swath of sounds without becoming incoherent thanks to their strong emotional through-line. On top of this cohesion, each sound they choose to entertain only pushes the themes of the album further. Each second is absolutely manic in a way that had been unheard of since early System of a Down.
On that final note, it seems inappropriate to leave this album to be consumed by the ravages of time. Melted Bodies have wrapped their clammy hands around a special type of ground flesh. The searing intensity and lyrical cohesion of this album taps into a heart pounding realm that is so rarely accessed by any genre of music. This band may not become the new SOAD, especially with them having released new music for the first time in 15 years, but they absolutely deserve to be the next in line. Don’t be surprised when Melted Bodies rules the alt-metal charts in two years, you’ve been thoroughly warned.
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