For more than a few years, it’s been easier to feel more excited about The Body’s collaborations than their solo efforts. Ever since their breakout album, All The Waters of the Earth Turn to Blood, their albums have been less successful attempts to replicate that album’s unimpeachable sense of terror. The increased electronics emphasis on albums like No One Deserves Happiness and this year’s I Have Fought Against It, But I Can’t Any Longer hasn’t helped matters. It’s not that doom metal and electronics can’t coexist (case in point: last year’s terrific collab with Full of Hell), but left to their own devices, The Body end up with songs more irritating than frightening.

So, it was welcome news to hear that Chip King and Lee Buford would be releasing a collaborative album with Uniform, one of the best active bands under the broad “metal” umbrella and previous tourmates of The Body. Let’s check off the similarities: Uniform is also a duo, composed of vocalist Michael Berdan and guitarist/drum machine maestro Ben Greenberg. Like The Body, their worldview seems more than a little bleak. Finally, at their best, their music can plant a seed of absolute dread in your stomach.

But neither band could be mistaken for the other or really any band. Even if The Body have been delivering diminishing returns on solo albums, they’ve never been about bandwagoning. That makes their union, Mental Wounds Not Healing successful but not in a way that inspires a resounding endorsement. It works because both Uniform and The Body have honed their sounds to the point of practically stamping their logos on them, but it’s a victim of staying in a comfort zone, no matter how many tidal waves of feedback and moments of vocal annihilation there are. It seems mostly like an album to supplement the groups’ touring experience with an official document. That’s completely honourable, but it’s ultimately a record with nothing to lose but not much to prove either.

Uniform receiving first billing makes sense, as this sounds mostly like a Uniform album with occasional shrieks from Chip King. The drum machine beats are all handled by The Body, a surprise considering just how much better they work here than on the aforementioned albums. Berdan provided synth bass lines to go on top these beats and Greenberg layered that with his menacing but never ostentatious guitar work. But Uniform would never work as well as it does without one key element: Berdan’s voice. No one’s is like his, a nasal bray that’s typically rendered indecipherable but one where it stills sounds like he’s enunciating and projecting every syllable to maximum ability. On tracks like ‘Dead River’ and ‘Curse of Eternal Life’ it sounds like Berdan is submerged and chained in a tank, and using the songs as a last will and testament instead of deluding himself into calling for a rescue that’ll never come.

The press release touts Mental Wounds Not Healing as “a duet between Berdan and King” and describes King’s voice as “unmistakable.” The latter is accurate, but it’s more of a liability than a plus for the album. King’s voice is unmistakable the same way Jason Voorhee’s hockey mask is unmistakable. It’s ability to unsettle decreases with increased exposure. When King’s signature shriek drops into this album, it can feel more like a rap ad-lib meant to fill space than an actual morsel of terror. As for the album being a duet between Berdan and King, it’s flattering, but it’s not hard to see who the vocal MVP is.

At seven tracks and 27 minutes long, this album doesn’t have much time to waste, or it might just not have many ideas. They at least get things right by sequencing the two best songs together. ‘Come And See’ is the track that best fulfills the promise of the collaboration, with Buford’s slow drum stomp a strong match for Berdan’s vocalized disgust and King’s voice feeling like a resurgence of the inspiration of Ascending a Mountain of Heavy Light. ‘The Boy With Death In His Eyes’ suffers a bit from sounding primarily like a Uniform song with a random appearance from King, but the atmosphere created by the tremolo and Berdan’s vocals shows just how much awe/fear this album could’ve inspired.

If songs were graded on effort, ‘In My Skin’ would get a perfect score. Instead, it’s discombobulated, with the synth drone, dreamy guitar, and (once again) King’s vocals sounding like they’re all wandering around in circles, completely unaware of each other. ‘We Have Always Lived in the Castle’ is rote spoken-word noise that feels more like padding than anything purposeful. Then, ‘Empty Comforts’ isn’t a closer as much as it is the last song on the album. If the bands wanted to leave you with any sort of unease, this wasn’t the way to do it.

There’s much more good than bad to be found on Mental Wounds Not Healing, but what’s at a deficit is inspiration. Uniform pull their weight but it feels like they’re (smartly) saving their strongest material for their upcoming third LP. As for The Body, they’ve shown they can play well with others, but here they feel like they’re indifferently inserting themselves into Uniform’s world, and Uniform was fine with it. It’s an album that aims to make you uncomfortable, but it feels too comfortable with itself.