For anyone who spends 350 days out of the year in a place very different than the town where they grew up, going home for Thanksgiving always represents something of a challenge: attempting to reconcile your changed worldview with the loud opinions of relatives whose perspectives you no longer share. As much friction as that conflict might normally cause, it's bound to be exponentially increased this year post-election, as your family is forced to navigate the murky waters of political debate in one of the most ideologically contentious times in modern American history. Fingers will be pointed, aspersions will be cast, gravy will be spilled. Messiness will ensue.
That's why you need the perfect musical soundtrack to drown out all such discussion. Do you want something rousing and patriotic? No, that's too risky: One person's patriotic is another person's jingoistic, and what's rousing to some may feel oppressive to others. Do you want something pointed and defiant, then? No, that's even worse: Thanksgiving isn't really the place for outright rebellion, and even if it were, expressing it would invariably divide your Thanksgiving dinner into factions of seething dissidents and the silent majority, and that's terrible enough when it invariably occurs in real life.
Really, it's impossible to unite everyone at Thanksgiving in any sort of positive or productive feeling. What you need to do is the opposite -- to beset your family celebration with a musical score so sonically overwhelming and thematically merciless that it deadens all discussions before they even begin. You need an album so cynical and demoralizing that it saps any energy in the room toward further negativity and sends everyone scurrying to the game room for a friendly round of Scattergories. You need an album that answers all political questions with "lol like any of this matters." You need The Body's No One Deserves Happiness.
Certainly, the Rhode Island duo's 2016 nihilistic masterwork is far from the only metal album that will suffice for this task. But there's something matter-of-fact about the abject miserablism of No One Deserves Happiness that separates it from the majority of more obviously histrionic metal: Its bleakness and blackness feels inherited, lived-in, accepted. Lyrics are either shrieked at a dog-whistle pitch or cooed like an incantation. You have to struggle to even make out lyrics like "Never hoped for laughter/ Never felt this lifetime" or "A drive to perish/ To feel nothing/ To abandon all action." Even if you didn't want to put the work in to discern the words floating in between the jagged guitars, blaring synths and punishing drums, the titles basically lay it out there for you: "Hallow / Hollow," "The Fall and the Guilt," "Shelter Is Illusory."
And then of course, the album title itself. No One Deserves Happiness is, by most extreme metal standards, a relatively inert title -- there's no violence, no danger, no action at all. But its despair is absolute and unflinching: It doesn't bother isolating victims or perpetrators, separating the worthy from the unworthy, assigning blame or absolution. It states it plainly and undramatically: We are all in this, we are all guilty, and we are all punished. There's no escape to be found, though there is comfort: Closing track "The Myth Arc" has a soft beauty to its humming heaviness that could almost be interpreted as hope, but really it's just the serenity to be found in total resignation. ANOHNI is probably a fan.
So there you have it. The minute your uncle starts referring to minority groups as "The ____s," or your cousin decides to pull up an interesting article she saw on Facebook for the whole table, or your parents start asking questions that begin "Does anyone remember when people used to just...?," just cue up No One Deserves Happiness and watch all the anger congeal and mellow into a pool of dull despair. Then, break out the pumpkin pie and try to start over.