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Flowers For Bodysnatchers - Love Like Blood (2016) - Review

Band: Flowers For Bodysnatchers
Album title: Love Like Blood
Release date: 30 August 2016
Label: Cryo Chamber

01. The Obscure You Deserve
02. Sorrow (Silhouette To Void)
03. A Disease Called Love
04. Hearken Our Storm
05. To The Loveless
06. The Life I Ruin
07. Tiny Black Tale
08. Memory (Night To Void)
09. Time Shall Heal No Wounds

Coming off last year's massively successful Aokigahara, Flowers For Bodysnatchers first release through Cryo Chamber, Duncan Ritchie is back with another beautifully dark and somber release. Love Like Blood is a companion to Aokigahara. Using the same set of field recordings and concepts he collected on his previous journey to the center of Japan and the infamous Aokigahara Forest, Flowers For Bodysnatchers have produced another magnificent opus. Where Aokigahara seemed to focus on the journey itself, Love Like Blood looks to delve into some more personal space.

The protagonist of Aokigahara is back in the spotlight on Love Like Blood. This seems to be less of a linear continuation of the previous story-line and more of a side-note, a delving into the depths of the tortured mind of this suicidal man. Love Like Blood is a memoir to a lost love, a look at the underlying reasons for this protagonist's current dilemma. Coming to Japan, to remove himself from the annals of the world, thoughts continue to return to the lost love, the end of the line, where salvation and redemption are off the table. Brooding thoughts, suicidal tendencies, and bittersweet memories swirl together to form a bleak and heart-wrenching tale of a man who has nothing left to lose.

Flowers For Bodysnatchers burst into the spotlight last year with Aokigahara. Aokigahara took liberties not often seen within the tight-knit confines of the dark ambient genre. Duncan's use of crystal clear piano arrangements throughout the album, and the sample in "Kuroi Jukai" of some deeply melancholic vocalist, immediately jumped out as original and bold, yet still fitting comfortably into the needed framework. These liberties are presumably a good part of what made Aokigahara so attractive to listeners. Indeed liberties like these can be traced back throughout the career of Flowers For Bodysnatchers. For instance, on the album Automne we heard "S'effondrer" a brilliantly cinematic track, with an emergency siren that cuts through the mix, blasting into the ears of the listener. While these bold types of input can wreck the immersion for the listener often in dark ambient, Duncan Ritchie was able to masterfully blend them into the mix for a depth which is hard to rival. Now, with Love Like Blood, we again see him managing these same feats, to equally successful effect. "The Life I Ruin" is one of these instances on Love Like Blood which makes the listener do a double-take. A percussive beat comes bursting through the more traditional dark ambient mix. A glitchy sort of beat which really opens the ears and mind of the listener, it really adds a whole new layer to the sound and the plot. Yet as quickly as it arrives, it moves back into the shadows, not to be seen again on the album. "To The Loveless" is another track which brings his previous work, Automne to mind. Starting with a melancholic sound which seems like some treated string instrument, eerie field recordings slowly seep into the sound palette, quickly followed with abrasive industrial noises. Just as the suspense climaxes the bottom falls out, and we return to almost silence, before a beautifully arranged string section comes to full attention.

Throughout Love Like Blood, we are given a feast of various emotions and instrumentation. There is never a dull moment as Duncan Ritchie somehow continues moving through tracks, bending and breaking rules of the genre all the while, without every giving a hint of misdirection or alienation from core genre elements. In fact, here more than ever, the theme and the experimentation seem to be able to walk hand in hand. Love Like Blood is a last call for help, a desperate attempt to hold on to sanity and reason before arriving at the final destination, Aokigahara Forest. All the abrupt changes can be an indication of the rabid thought process of a man at the end of his wits. As the journey is concluding, he knows his destiny, but lashes out against it in anyway he can, grasping fragments of memories, bits of emotion, barely memorable after the split, force their way to the surface. Likewise, the heavy use of classical instrumentation here is a clear and sure-fire way to evoke feelings of love, loss, and melancholy. A final indication of the inevitable fate of our protagonist comes in the final track, the aptly titled "Time Shall Heal No Wounds". The journey is closing, the protagonist has gone through all possible stages of loss and sadness, and has found himself left in a boat with no paddle. The sense of melancholy here is overwhelming, the gentle piano arrangement sits atop a slowly intensifying thunderstorm and eerie yet barely discernible drone sweeps. Crows call their ominous messages as the protagonist's mind is fully encompassed in a black aura as opaque as that of the crow itself. There is no light at the end of this tunnel, the wounds are still open, the protagonist is forever broken, and accepting of his grim fate.

Love Like Blood does nothing if not solidify Flowers For Bodysnatchers as an artists willing to do anything necessary to evoke the intended emotions of the listener. Duncan Richie pulls the heart strings of the listener, as he digs deep into the depths of sorrow, lost love, and a general hopelessness, on a very personal level. These efforts do not come up short. Each of the tracks on both Aokigahara and Love Like Blood are magnificent works of art, presented by a truly integral artist to the genre of dark ambient. While he may not have been doing this for as long as many of his peers, Duncan shows a natural tendency to delve deep into intricate concepts and emotional passages, rivaling many veterans of the genre. The move to Cryo Chamber brought more attention to Flowers For Bodysnatchers, but the talents of Duncan Ritchie were already present long before joining the label. I would highly recommend Love Like Blood to any dark ambient fan who appreciates the ability to step outside the norm for the sake of the greater story-line. Not only that, but the brilliant use of classical instrumentation should make an introduction to the genre all the easier to digest for new-comers. An excellent addition to the Cryo Chamber library and an essential dark ambient album for 2016.

Written by: Michael
Rating: 9/10

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