Californian doom/sludge band Chrch have released a new album called Light Will Consume Us All. The album was released on the 11th of May via Neurot Recordings and epitomises all that is great and good in the doom genre.
Light Will Consume Us All is the second full length release from the American band. They debuted in 2015 with Unanswered Hymns though actually formed in 2013 under the name Church. Since then they released a split EP with Fister called Fister & Chrch before this latest release.
Chrch are a 5 piece with Eva Rose on vocals. Guitars come from Karl Cordtz and Chris while bass is handled by Ben Cathcart. Finally, on drums we have Adam. In their own words, Chrch are influenced by heavy music, depression, substances and the feeling of making it out alive. Light Will Consume Us All is described as minimalist, indulgent and straightforward. It invites the listener to inhabit it allowing enough room for it’s transmutation into anything the listener desires of it.
One thing that is for sure is that Chrch play long, winding songs. Really long actually. Light Will Consume Us All is only three tracks long, as a complete album but weighs in at a hefty 45 minutes. The album opener is the longest and most expansive of the three tracks. Infinite Return is just short of 21 minutes long. Huge. In a way, it is all very typical of doom/sludge but musically everything is pieced together with immaculate detail to create quite a listening experience if you have the patience to see it through.
Infinite Return plays a sombre, almost melancholy guitar melody for the first 4 minutes. About 3 and a half minutes into that you start getting the introduction of slow, fuzzy drums. As the 5th minute approach, and you are running the risk of boredom setting in, a few more sounds start to permeate the dark cloud of the brooding opening. A little extra guitar melody, a dollop of bass, a few more drum hits and some echoed vocals. We have hardly kicked in but you get a sense of intrigue building which is cool.
Eventually the song does kick in with distorted doom laden riffs and thumping drums while Eva Rose sings in a wailing sort of style. A little Oathbreaker like actually. By this point there are still 14 minutes of the track left for the band to experiment and expand into, and they do. We move through heavier phases with roared vocals and blasting drums before a sudden slow down into a slow, sombre guitar. It starts really as just a single note ringing out but builds a little into an atmospheric melody.
It does go on for a bit and while it’s repetitive nature makes you feel a little retrospective, I imagine a causal listener could get bored if they made it this far. Patience reaps rewards though as the intensity raises again as the track nears conclusion. With mud dripping guitar tones and moaning vocals separated by a glorious guitar solo, it ends emphatically. The second track, Portals, is also the penultimate track which isn’t a line you write very often in relation to an album. At 15 minutes long it is short, at least in comparison to the opener. This lack of time means the band don’t spend 5 minutes building atmosphere, instead choosing to kick straight in.
Portals is the perfect slow head banging track with huge distorted riffs, punishing drum power and a thick bass line. It is basically bug riff after big riff all mixed with a slightly fuzzy sound. Vocals permeate the darkness at intervals. Occasionally with sorrowful singing and occasionally with more guttural screams and roars. Portals really lays on a thick and heavy atmosphere making you feel like you are wading around in darkness. The final track, Aether, is a baby compared to the rest being just below 10 minutes. It carries on like Portals with a thick, sludgy start with clean singing and heavily distorted guitars and drums.
A clean guitar line pierces the darkness adding a touch of melody to a dirty sounding line. The riff is really slow and crunching, so slow it is hard to even slow headbang along to. As the track progresses the vocals turn to desperate roars before heading into a melodic section. Gentle guitar tones and intermittent drum fills allow time for thought before it explodes into a ferocious section. Chock full of screamed vocals, quick drums and a fast riff raise the intensity to feverous levels.
Light Will Consume Us All may just be three tracks but there is a double album worth of ideas and variety on it. Each track is a carefully blended mix of atmosphere building doom and slow burning sludge. Musically it is fuzzy and rough with touches of clear melody shining through like moments of clarity. It is really interesting and exciting to listen to, mostly. I do think the first track is a little too long. The 6 minute building intro and the 5 minute intermission melody could easily have been trimmed without losing the atmosphere and tension.
A minor complaint though as I enjoyed it wholly. I do think you would need to be a fan of this style of music to appreciate tracks that build and flow like this. A casual listener is unlikely to make it through the long, winding intro of the album opener. If you do persevere though, Light Will Consume Us All offers untold reward.
You can pick up a copy of Light Will Consume Us All at Neurot Recordings Bandcamp Page here. You can also grab it all the usual streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify now. Find out more on Chrch at their Bandcamp page, on Twitter or on Facebook. Be sure to give them a like or follow while you are there.
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Light Will Consume Us All by Chrch (Neurot Recordings)
The Final Score - 8.5/10