Body Hammer – “Jigoku”

Body Hammer - Jigoku

Imagine yourself slowly transforming, losing your humanity to a cancer of scrap metal consuming your body from within. Imminent terror grips your mechanizing limbs. A fetishistic maniac is turning you against your loved ones, then against yourself, and finally, against mankind.

Now set that nightmare to music and Jigoku is a frighteningly close approximation. UMaine’s own Ryan Page, inspired by the 1989 film Testuo: The Iron Man, interprets this experience beyond the bounds of musical orthodoxy, crafting a truly unique opus of terror.

For those out of the loop, Tetsuo is a cyberpunk horror-fantasy by Japanese director Shinya Tsukamoto. Filmed in black-and-white, this disturbing achievement of cinematography soon earned cult status. Body Hammer doesn’t necessarily rewrite the soundtrack to this movie—the late-80’s industrial rock score was appropriate enough. Rather Jigoku translates its themes into a musical journey into an abyss of madness, despair, and nihilistic rage.

Before even opening the package, Jigoku‘s cover art conveys the essence of the Tetsuo concept: the hideous fusion of man and machine envisioned in the art of H. R. Giger. Witness a dark future: the obsolescence of humankind to technology. Think of the mental anguish of being the only remaining biological entity in a matrix of metal.

Musically, this boils down to cybergrind in counterpoint to dark ambient industrial—a mouthful, I know. Body Hammer doesn’t fall into pigeonholes. Rather, we have an amalgam of influences. On the one hand, we get grindcore: extremely short bursts of insanely fast drumming, riffing, and hardcore vocals. “The Bystander Effect” and “Blue Eyed Assassin” strike like lightning from the brooding storm cloud that is this album. Nor is this cookie-cutter grindcore. Metal is a key element in the riffing, especially on tracks like “29 Second Stairway.”

On the other hand, we have a prevailing ambient element, with atmospheres of distorted guitars and distant screams. Occasionally we hear clean guitar chanting a haunting eastern melody. But as suits the theme, the human element is stifled by the impending mechanical world, an industrial morass collapsing upon the listener. This is best achieved at “The Square Root of 964,” the closest the album comes to Black Metal—this track could have easily gone on the latest Black Funeral album.

I cannot stress enough that this is challenging music, a work in and of itself, and not a soundtrack. It is a carefully crafted conception of a purgatorial spiral of the mind. So support local music and pick this up. And if you dare, check out Tetsuo the Iron Man for a visual complement. Jigoku is proof that New Media students do much more than worship Steve Jobs and Adobe Photoshop.


One Response to “Body Hammer – “Jigoku””

  1. Nice review. Thanks!

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