Album Review: Show Me The Body's 'Dog Whistle'
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON THE 405 (NOW DEFUNCT)
If for some reason you’ve been living six feet deep inside of a hole, New York’s Show Me The Body (SMTB) demands your attention, for they are resurrecting infectious rage and restoring it the essence hardcore punk. A rabid trio of gravediggers, SMTB unearths abrasive sounds from a multitude of genres and dark emotions from every crack and crevice of the id and humanity’s shortcomings. By way of combing elements of industrial, rap, and hardcore, SMTB is often been deemed by some, as another derivative of Death Grips. Though MC Ride and company may have seeped into the band’s subconscious at some point down the line, SMTB has proven itself as its own uniquely vicious demon, one that has been pointing a knife at the jugular of listeners since the band’s 2014 EP ‘Yellow Kidney.’
Five years have passed since SMTB’s introduction to the world and the band’s knife has become more serrated and of course, battle-tested. That being said, SMTB has kicked their menacing ways into full gear by following up their 2017 mixtape ‘Corpus I’ with their second proper LP titled Dog Whistle. With the new record, the collective has refined its sound into perfect chaos, channeling their frustration into a heat-seeking missile dead-set on obliterating the bigoted world around them.
American philosopher Henry David Thoreau once said, “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.” Though SMTB’s frontman Julian Pratt asserts that Dog Whistle is not bound to any political function, it does dive into the complacency of society as it watches those left in the margins suffer, stating within the track "Animal in a Dream", "Participation in anything is the death of something / A camp in the country / A checkpoint in the city / Every institution has hand in the business of death and eclipse.”
For many bands and artists, the nation’s decaying state at the hands of its abuser is ready-made subject matter to explore. But for this group of hardcore provocateurs, political platforms are obsolete. Without completely ignoring the volatility, Dog Whistle focuses on America’s decay through the abstract and a humanistic lens that’s oddly optimistic amidst the band sonic haze and torment. It’s easy to impress your political views upon SMTB’s music (especially Dog Whistle), but as Pratt insists, this album is personal and for the “community and anyone who may find shelter within it.”
As a whole, Dog Whistle reflects this earnest sentiment with sonic brutality and an urban grit rarely experienced in the hardcore scene these days. Pulsing with this sense unrest and righteous fury, Pratt and company drive deep into the question of comfortability amidst blatant calamity by pairing striking commentary with torment-ladened compositions.
Though the band’s latest doesn’t quite feature their unique blend of punk and industrial hip-hop, Dog Whistle still manages to grip and leave listeners digging their graves, because these tracks are absolutely murderous. At the core of this face-melting display of uncompromising noise and misanthropy, Pratt once again steals the show as a dismantling, banjo-wielding maniac fixated on destroying any listeners’ sense of comfortability.
Though the frontman’s banjo uncorks chaos at the seams of each cut, the main culprit of this musical bloodshed is his rabidly gnarled bark. Though both elements are in blatant unison on punchier tracks like "Not For Love" and "Badge Grabber", Pratt’s foreboding yet passionate demeanor seeps into more lethargic moments like ‘Now I Know’ and ‘Arcanum.’ Though Pratt’s musical talents/peculiarities remain a stable force from beginning to end, Dog Whistle is a fluid creature, moving effortlessly from brooding uncertainty to angular aggression.
"Camp Orchestra", the first track released from Dog Whistle opens up with a very Oneohtrix Point Never-like intro, as a gloomy, distorted bassline builds up and into a razor-sharp mingling of deafening percussion and jagged guitars. ‘Madonna Rocket,’ the second single, is a rallying cry and straight-forward, mangled piece of hardcore that pushes community while desiring genuine human connection, "When I meet someone that's good I wanna die with them."
As mentioned prior, not everything about Dog Whistle is propulsive and an incessant ring of unruliness. For example, the shadowy ‘Arcanum’ undresses the band’s brazen sound with a soft deluge of Pratt’s distorted banjo and dreary slur. Though the track won’t make you run for cover once fists and elbows start flailing, ‘Arcanum’s’ slow burn is suspenseful and above all, emotional: “you gotta love someone before you die by one." This track, alongside the beautiful poetry of the album’s two interludes—"Animal In A Dream" and "Die For The Earth To Live"—proves SMTB are experts at navigating between sullen and boisterous moods. Though Dog Whistle is masterfully abrasive in its thrashing communication of anger and unease, its pacing is a wonder to behold and a perfect reason to deem Show Me The Body’s latest as ambassadors of hardcore’s future.
THE 405 RATING: 9/10