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Two heavyweights of metal have joined forces to usher in 2015 in characteristically brutal style. A thunderous collision of sludge metal and doom, the resulting record is a nightmarish vision of anguish and torment communicated through a cacophony of feedback, cataclysmic percussion and a death rattle of guitar and bass. Amidst all of this is the tortured cry of Thou frontman Bryan Funck. His demonic delivery is like someone speaking in tongues, garbled throaty utterances giving way to screams, cloaked beneath layers of noise.

Both The Body & Thou boast impressive back catalogues and also released extraordinary metal records last year. I Shall Die Here was The Body's impressive blending of doom and electronica, whilst Heathen saw Thou dealing in twisted, melodic metal that seemed to up the intensity with each passing minute. Fittingly this collaboration is built like a pressure cooker, tension is ratcheted up to an insane degree and the whole thing rumbles along unstoppable.

Take a track like 'Coward' (a cover of the Vic Chesnutt track) which closes the four track Released From Love portion of the record. It opens with a slow, almost methodical guitar riff - it might be rather simplistic, but it sets a lonely, introspective tone. Underneath this is a murmur of feedback, an occasional, ominous bass note and the faint wail of The Body's Chip King. It sets the song's tone on a knife-edge. The listener knows that at any moment that tension is going to rupture and noise will spill out, suffocating everything else. When this finally happens, it's a thrilling mix of rolling drums and chugging riffs that lumber towards you, spearheaded by Funck's inhuman vocal.

Moments like that are what set bands like The Body & Thou apart from other metal acts. They understand the effectiveness of juxtaposing quiet moments with loud and whilst it's certainly possible to deliver records that are truly relentless in their volume - I Shall Die Here being proof of that - it can often lead to albums being rather one note in their delivery.

The 7 minute centre-piece 'Her Strongholds Unvanquishable' is the very definition of an aural onslaught. The uptempo clatter of percussion, squealing feedback and guitars stands in stark contrast to the rest of the track which takes a steadier approach, and for much of the remaining time layers in the noise so thick, so heavy that it's difficult to make much sense of anything. Bass, guitars and drums all become one incoherent mass. The middle of the track is probably the most interesting part, where the layers are peeled back to focus in on King's screams set against the distant roar of guitars and electronically-mangled percussion. It's one of the few occasions that The Body's avant-garde approach to metal really comes to the fore - and further emphasises perhaps the one element that needed to be a bit louder throughout.

For all of the record's thrills, and there are many, it just doesn't connect as well as either band's work in 2014. Songs feel more like individual items, rather than pieces of a coherent whole. Sure, tonally they're similar, perhaps a little too similar in places as they tend to stick to a rather languorous tempo, but the transitions between songs often feel sudden and there are a few too many moments that feel a little out of place. Introductions in particular can feel like an afterthought, a way of announcing a new song, before returning to a familiar groove of bass, guitar and percussion layered into one thunderous whole.

Nine Inch Nails cover 'Terrible Lie' is one such track. Its electronic opening presents an intriguing, industrial focus that's quickly abandoned for a more standard sludge metal performance. Electronic elements remain, but they largely take a back seat - a few sudden whirs here and there that only seem to hint at the song's genesis rather than being internal parts of the song itself. Contrast with 'He Returns to the Place of His Iniquity', one of the record's shortest tracks, which has a more consistent tone throughout. It's a deeply troubling track, focusing on a subtle guitar riff over what sounds like a heavily distorted sample of a gust of wind and voices over radio transmitters. Using only a few elements, it achieves a great deal, creating an oppressive atmosphere, but without going for the jugular. For me that's where true horror lies, the kind of creeping horror that you know is lurking ever closer, but won't announce itself until it's too late.

Perhaps the issue is with expecting too much from this collaboration, or it's just a sense of fatigue. Taken in isolation each track holds up extremely well, but as a complete piece of work it sometimes seems to rely on a few too many repeated motifs. It probably doesn't help that the record is technically comprised of two releases - two different recording sessions - and this certainly leads to the most awkward transition between 'Coward' and 'Her Strongholds Unvanquishable'. Ultimately though Released From Love / You, Whom I Have Always Hated has enough going for it to for demand your attention. Tracks like 'Lurking Fear', which transitions from antagonistic noise to haunting melodiousness with surprising ease, show just how impressive and formidable both acts can be, as well as just how thrilling and moving metal can be in the right hands.

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