Days of Rona: Nick DiSalvo of Elder

Posted in Features on March 30th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

The statistics of COVID-19 change with every news cycle, and with growing numbers, stay-at-home isolation and a near-universal disruption to society on a global scale, it is ever more important to consider the human aspect of this coronavirus. Amid the sad surrealism of living through social distancing, quarantines and bans on gatherings of groups of any size, creative professionals — artists, musicians, promoters, club owners, techs, producers, and more — are seeing an effect like nothing witnessed in the last century, and as humanity as a whole deals with this calamity, some perspective on who, what, where, when and how we’re all getting through is a needed reminder of why we’re doing so in the first place.

Thus, Days of Rona, in some attempt to help document the state of things as they are now, both so help can be asked for and given where needed, and so that when this is over it can be remembered.

Thanks to all who participate. — JJ Koczan

elder nick disalvo

Days of Rona: Nick DiSalvo of Elder (Germany)

How are you dealing with this crisis as a band? Have you had to rework plans at all? How is everyone’s health so far?

I don’t think a pandemic would ever come at a “convenient” time, but since we’re releasing a new album at the end of April and had tours lined up for the next half-year following that, it’s causing some problems. We’re rescheduling the concerts coming up soonest and taking the rest on a wait-and-see basis. Thankfully, that’s our biggest problem and everyone is healthy. Jack continues to work in a very public space, being an ‘essential worker’, but so far so good.

What are the quarantine/isolation rules where you are?

In Germany, currently we’re allowed to move freely but with a few restrictions. Groups of over two people aren’t allowed in public or private, nonessential businesses are closed and everyone is predictably advised to stay in unless absolutely necessary. In Massachusetts, I believe it’s similar.

How have you seen the virus affecting the community around you and in music?

There’s a general sense of unwellbeing in the city. Supermarkets are eerie, streets are mostly empty. Needless to say the clubs and bands here are facing the same crises as elsewhere, but there is at least funding being freed up for artists by the state. I’ve seen an uptick in kind messages and bits of support in the way of merch sales and downloads, which is heartening. People are helping out where they can – I mean, except for the super-rich and corporations, etc.

What is the one thing you want people to know about your situation, either as a band, or personally, or anything?

Well, we’re fine. Things like this put your problems into perspective, even as they are creating them. We might have to cancel tours and lose money/momentum as a band, but people are suffering and dying by the thousands and it will only get worse.

http://facebook.com/elderofficial
https://www.instagram.com/elderband/
http://armageddonshop.com
https://www.stickman-records.com/

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Elder Post Omens Cover Art; Preorders Available

Posted in Whathaveyou on February 24th, 2020 by JJ Koczan

Well, preorders are up for Elder‘s new album, Omens. I’m not going to tell you I’ve heard the record or anything, but I am going to tell you that it’s the most progressive thing they’ve ever done, and it sets in motion a new stage of the band’s ongoing evolution. They approach and execute it like the veterans they’ve become, and construct their songs with a masterful hand. I’m not telling you I’ve heard it, but I am telling you it’s probably going to be a consensus album of the year for 2020 when December comes.

Cover art has been unveiled today along with the title-track, which is representative of course of the album as a whole and a pretty damn fine way to spend the next 10 minutes of your life.

Dig in:

elder omens

Elder have set an April 24 release date for one of the year’s most eagerly-awaited rock releases… Their 5th full length album: “Omens”.

US preorder link: https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/

EU preorder link: https://www.stickman-records.com/shop/elder-omens/

“To me, Omens is our most complete work to date: a set of songs that express the breadth of the band’s collective influences,” explains singer/guitar player Nick DiSalvo. “After recording The Gold & Silver Sessions EP, it felt like we fully scratched the itch to explore our minimalist side, taking a step back from the proggy song structures and heavy guitar work of our previous records and just letting the music drift along. When beginning to work on Omens, the goal was to integrate these two tendencies in the band – to make a modern day progressive rock record, but also to take time to jam and float when need be. Most importantly, I feel the spirit of adventure in our music is alive and well, and we missed no opportunity to bring in a whole new arsenal of sounds to the record.”

The five song, 54-minute album is a concept album that mimics the lifespan of a civilization, and also reads as a commentary on our own society hell-bent on profitability at the expense of our own lives and environment.

Omens was produced by Peter Deimel (Anna Calvi, The Kills, The Wedding Present) and recorded at Studio Black Box in Noyant-La-Gravoyêre, France. Deimel and DiSalvo mixed the collection.

Elder is Nick DiSalvo (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jack Donvan (bass), Michael Risberg (guitars, keyboards) and Georg Edert (drums). The New Bedford, Mass. born band have released five full-length studio albums: Elder (2008), Dead Roots Stirring (2011), Lore (2015) and Reflections of a Floating World (2017).

1. Omens
2. In Procession
3. Halcyon
4. Embers
5. One Light Retreating

Elder US 2020 Tour:
May 6 Brooklyn, NY Elsewhere
May 7 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
May 8 Richmond, VA Richmond Music Hall
May 9 Asheville, NC Mothlight
May 10 Atlanta, GA The Earl
May 12 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies
May 13 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
May 14 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
May 15 Houston, TX Secret Group
May 16 Austin, TX Barracuda
May 17 Dallas, TX Blue Light
May 19 Albuquerque, NM Sister Bar
May 20 Denver, CO Hi Dive
May 22 St. Paul, MN Turf Club
May 23 Chicago, IL Reggie’s
May 24 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
May 26 Detroit, MI Sanctuary
May 27 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
May 28 Montreal, QC Café Campus
May 29 Boston, MA ONCE Ballroom

Tickets are on-sale now. Bask opens on all dates.

http://facebook.com/elderofficial
https://www.instagram.com/elderband/
http://armageddonshop.com
https://www.stickman-records.com/

Elder, “Omens”

Tags: , , , , , ,

Elder to Release Omens April 24; Tour Dates Announced

Posted in Whathaveyou on January 31st, 2020 by JJ Koczan

elder

Do I even really need to chime in here and say that Elder‘s new album, Omens, probably ranks as the most anticipated release of 2020? I mean, it was before they started recording, simply on the premise that they were working on new material. There’s no audio from it yet, so, you know, take it easy, but presumably they’ll get there. April 24 is the release date and it looks like it’ll once again be out through Armageddon Shop in the US and Stickman Records in Europe, which is how they’ve been rolling for half a decade now since putting out 2015’s Lore (review here) which if you missed it was this site’s pick for album of the decade just ended.

Omens will be the follow-up to the Massachusetts/Germany-based four-piece’s 2017 outing, Reflections of a Floating World (review here), which continued the progressive explorations of its predecessor while exploring a new range of instrumental dynamics. As to what the five tracks of Omens might foretell, we’ll have to wait to find out. The good news is there are now also tour dates to look forward to. With Bask, no less. No doubt the first of many tours to come.

This is a big deal.

From the PR wire:

elder tour

ELDER RELEASE OMENS ON APRIL 24 VIA ARMAGEDDON SHOP

A NORTH AMERICAN SPRING TOUR HAS ALSO BEEN ANNOUNCED

Elder have set an April 24 release date for one of the year’s most eagerly-awaited rock releases: Omens (Armageddon Shop).

In the last dozen years, Elder has stepped out of the shadows of their peers in the heavy rock underground to emerge a unique voice, delivering album after album of almost unparalleled consistency and creativity. Omens, the band’s fifth full-length record, is the newest pillar in the construction of their own musical universe. Across five songs and 54 minutes, Elder further embrace experimentation in their brand of progressive psychedelic rock in which atmosphere, melody and structure are created and transformed again and again.

“To me, Omens is our most complete work to date: a set of songs that express the breadth of the band’s collective influences,” explains singer/guitar player Nick DiSalvo. “After recording The Gold & Silver Sessions EP, it felt like we fully scratched the itch to explore our minimalist side, taking a step back from the proggy song structures and heavy guitar work of our previous records and just letting the music drift along. When beginning to work on Omens, the goal was to integrate these two tendencies in the band – to make a modern day progressive rock record, but also to take time to jam and float when need be. Most importantly, I feel the spirit of adventure in our music is alive and well, and we missed no opportunity to bring in a whole new arsenal of sounds to the record.”

The five song, 54-minute album is a concept album that mimics the lifespan of a civilization, and also reads as a commentary on our own society hell-bent on profitability at the expense of our own lives and environment. Omens was produced by Peter Deimel (Anna Calvi, The Kills, The Wedding Present) and recorded at Studio Black Box in Noyant-La-Gravoyêre, France. Deimel and DiSalvo mixed the collection.

Elder tour dates:
May 6 Brooklyn, NY Elsewhere
May 7 Philadelphia, PA Underground Arts
May 8 Richmond, VA Richmond Music Hall
May 9 Asheville, NC Mothlight
May 10 Atlanta, GA The Earl
May 12 Lexington, KY Cosmic Charlies
May 13 Nashville, TN Mercy Lounge
May 14 New Orleans, LA One Eyed Jacks
May 15 Houston, TX Secret Group
May 16 Austin, TX Barracuda
May 17 Dallas, TX Blue Light
May 19 Albuquerque, NM Sister Bar
May 20 Denver, CO Hi Dive
May 22 St. Paul, MN Turf Club
May 23 Chicago, IL Reggie’s
May 24 Cleveland, OH Grog Shop
May 26 Detroit, MI Sanctuary
May 27 Toronto, ON Lee’s Palace
May 28 Montreal, QC Café Campus
May 29 Boston, MA ONCE Ballroom

Tickets are on-sale now. Bask opens on all dates.

Elder is Nick DiSalvo (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Jack Donovan (bass), Michael Risberg (guitars, keyboards) and Georg Edert (drums).

http://facebook.com/elderofficial
https://www.instagram.com/elderband/
http://armageddonshop.com
https://www.stickman-records.com/

Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (2017)

Tags: , , , , , ,

Album of the Decade: Elder, Lore

Posted in Features on December 27th, 2019 by JJ Koczan

elder-lore

[NOTE: This is not the results of the best of the 2010s poll, which is ongoing. Please add your choice/choices there if you haven’t, and thanks.]

This has been an incredibly difficult choice. It’s something I started really thinking about in the middle of last year, and even this morning I was back and forth on what my final pick would be. You know what sealed the deal for Elder‘s Lore (review here) as album of the decade?

I put it on.

And it wasn’t two minutes into the sweeping 10-minute opener “Compendium” before the deal was sealed. The then-Massachusetts-based then-trio (hey, things change) of guitarist/vocalist Nick DiSalvo, bassist Jack Donovan and drummer Matt Couto — the latter of whom recently parted ways with the band — issued Lore in 2015, and it was album of the year at the time as well. I recall agonizing over that choice as well, but in the end, my reasoning is much the same now as it was then, in that I genuinely don’t think there is another full-length record released between 2010 and 2019 that works at the level of craft Elder do on Lore while at the same time being so purely forward thinking.

Lore‘s release through Armageddon Shop and Stickman Records followed 2011’s Dead Roots Stirring (review here) on MeteorCity and felt long in the making, but the jump in sound was even further. To compare the approach of the two records, some of the differences are superficial. Elder‘s penchant since their 2008 self-titled debut (discussed here) has always been for composing songs by marrying parts together and creating a flow based more on movements than traditionalist verses and chorus. I admit there are times when I personally find this hilariously maddening, but their work still finds ways to stand pieces out and make them memorable. It was true on Dead Roots Stirring and Lore alike, but the presentation and the mission were fundamentally different between the two.

It’s a question of clarity. Where Dead Roots Stirring was (and is, if you’re listening in the present tense) more rooted in heavy rock distortion and production, the Justin Pizzoferrato-recorded Lore certainly had those elements at play — the post-guitar-as-mellotron-orchestra sweep apex of the 15-minute centerpiece title-track being a riffy example, as well as the swinging rush earlier in “Compendium,” the finish in “Spirit at Aphelion,” etc. — but the album is much more defined by DiSalvo‘s shimmering guitar and its progressive edge. It is a clean sound. And what’s more, four years since Lore came out and listening to it, my head is still spinning. I mean it. You would have to sit with a flowchart for each track and measure out where one part ends and the next starts. And when you’re done doing that, once you have all the crescendos and twists and winding progressions measured and calculated and so on plotted, you’ll still only have one piece of Lore‘s puzzle configured, because in addition to its blindsiding, careening movements, there’s the melody.

elder (Photo by Ryan Boyd)

With the prescient experimental play at the start of “Deadweight” and even in the cascade wash that emerges in that track’s second half — a glorious noise bath that leads to a galloping end that at the time seemed outshined by the title-track before it and now stands as all the more testament to Lore‘s enduring quality — or in the lead and languid verse atop the rolling beginning of second cut “Legend,” Elder unfolded a new level of accomplishment in melodic reach instrumentally and vocally. With Donovan and Couto in rhythmic lockstep as the sure foundation of DiSalvo‘s tonal breadth, the three-piece used traditional power trio dynamics to pull tradition apart at the seams. And for an album that’s an hour long and begins at such an immediate rush with the opening guitar figure of “Compendium” daring the listener to keep pace, it still remains eminently listenable and enjoyable because of the work the melody does in carrying across all its many changes. Along with Couto‘s essential swing, it’s the melody most responsible for tying Lore together and uniting its five component tracks as a single work.

As the only song under 10 minutes long (it’s 9:28), “Deadweight” allows itself the indulgence of a little classic heavy rock soloing, but even in that, it takes its own approach. Consider the penultimate cut at four minutes in. DiSalvo, shredding. Donovan is holding down the central groove with Couto punctuating righteously. Then, at 4:14, they pivot, and it’s so quick and so sharply executed that you don’t even realize what you’re in is a transitional part and that 20 seconds later, they’re going to be off on the “next riff” along the song’s building course. Lore is rife with these moments, which are the kind of thing that, if they were on someone else’s record once, they’d make the whole album better. With Elder, they’re just another part on the way to the next part. It continues to be an astonishing work.

Of course, Lore closes with the 10:32 “Spirit at Aphelion,” and though one hardly thinks of any part of the 2LP as being understated — it is not without its indulgent stretches — the ending fadeout seems to ride the tension of its final riff in such a way as to hint at more to come. One almost expects the song, which is a victory lap in summarizing what precedes and certainly plenty dynamic in its stretch prior, to fade back in for another round, even after it’s over. But the end is, in fact, the end, and it would be just two years before Elder turned around and offered Reflections of a Floating World (review here) as the inevitable follow-up and next forward step in their ongoing progression. By then, the impact of Lore was already being felt in the work of other bands, and the ensuing two years, as well as the reception to the fourth long-player and their concurrent touring, have only seen Elder‘s influence spread further.

I could have made any number of choices here. But in looking back over the last decade, no single release seemed to encapsulate a vision of what heavy rock and roll could be in the way Lore did, and no single band have manifest their vision in way Elder have. It is an epicenter from which they and heavy rock as a whole will continue to grow.

Honorable Mention

Like I just said, I could’ve made any number of choices here. When I went to bed last night, it was planning to write about Om, so there you go. We’ll do the poll results early in January, but here are a few more of my own picks for album of the decade contention:

  • OmAdvaitic Songs
  • YOBClearing the Path to Ascend
  • Uncle Acid and the DeadbeatsBlood Lust
  • ClutchEarth Rocker
  • GraveyardHisingen Blues
  • High on FireSnakes for the Divine
  • All Them WitchesLightning at the Door

I’ll leave it there so as not to spoil anything for the poll to come, but yeah, there are plenty of noteworthy contenders. If you have one or 50 you’d like to add, please feel free to leave a comment here, or, of course, hit up the decade-end poll and drop a list there. Either way, your thoughts and consideration are always appreciated.

And thanks for reading.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Morne: New Album To the Night Unknown Available to Preorder

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 3rd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

morne (Photo by Hilarie Jason)

By early September the nights in Massachusetts usually start to cool off from the day’s residual summer assault of Eastern Seaboard humidity and it portends the no-sun cruelties of the winter ahead. I don’t know if this is what Boston’s Morne had in mind when they released their The Coming of Winter live album in 2015, but it makes the Sept. 7 release date of their new studio record, To the Night Unknown, make a lot of sense. To be issued by Armageddon Shop‘s own Armageddon Label in conjunction with the band’s aptly-titled Morne Records imprint, it will follow some five years behind their 2013 LP, Shadows, which came out via Profound Lore and took the four-piece to Roadburn in the Netherlands in 2014 and made a lasting enough impression that they featured last year as well at Psycho Las Vegas.

A band whose quiet stretches even seem to seethe with extremity, Morne have preorders up for To the Night Unknown now, as the PR wire informs:

morne to the night unknown

Pre-Orders Up Now! MORNE “To The Night Unknown” 2LP / CD

Five years since their last release, Morne is proud to announce their fourth studio album entitled, “To the Night Unknown,” which will be released by the Armageddon Label and the bands’ own label Morne Records, in September 2018. The album was recorded at New Alliance Audio Productions by Jon Taft and mastered at Audiosiege by Brad Boatright and features the photography and design of Hillarie Jason.

Morne, formed in 2005, is a heavy, atmospheric band based in Boston, Massachusetts. Their style blends doom metal and classic British crust but stretches beyond those boundaries, combining a bleak lyrical style with driving riffs. The band has toured the US, Canada and Europe, and they have been part of large festivals such as Roadburn, Hellfest and Psycho Las Vegas.

MORNE – “To The Night Unknown”
Armageddon Label
Release Date: September 7th 2018
Catalog Number: Armageddon 020
Available formats: Gatefold 2LP w/download, Digipack CD, Digital

Vinyl: Gatefold 2LP on 180 gram black vinyl or ltd 180 gram black vinyl with gray splatter
CD: Digipack packaging with 8pg booklet
Digital: via Itunes, Amazon, Bandcamp and others

Pre-orders are live NOW via:
https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/
Orders will ship a week before street date.

TRACKLIST:
1. To the Night Unknown
2. Not Our Flame
3. The Blood is Our Own
4. Scorn
5. Show Your Wounds
6. Night Awaits the Dawn
7. Shadowed Road
8. Surrendering Fear

LINE UP:
Milosz Gassan – Vocals, Guitar
Paul Rajpal – Guitar
Morgan Coe – Bass
Billy Knockenhauer – Drums

https://facebook.com/mornecrust
https://morneband.bandcamp.com/
https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/morne/440400147
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_music_1?ie=UTF8&field-artist=MORNE&search-alias=music
https://open.spotify.com/artist/5hpeBTPIG4IE2ymmNZUiEf
http://www.storenvy.com/stores/120214-morne
http://armageddonshop.com/
https://armageddonlabel.bigcartel.com/

Morne, The Coming of Winter (2015)

Tags: , , , , ,

Elder Touring Europe this Fall with Ancestors; Playing Fests and More

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2018 by JJ Koczan

elder

Progressive heavy rock forerunners Elder will be back on the road in Europe for Fall 2018, joined by Ancestors for a run through festivals that includes Doom vs. Stoner, Up in Smoke, Desertfest Belgium 2018, Into the Void and Keep it Low. Because, basically, if you’re throwing a heavy fest in 2018, you want Elder to play. The former-trio-now-four-piece affirmed their ascendance last year with Reflections of a Floating World (review here) and have barely come off tour since. To wit, after the stint with Ancestors? They have another European tour. It’s pretty much how it goes with them these days, and right on.

You’ll note they mention an impending announcement about new music. I know what it is and it’s awesome. It’s not public yet, but yeah, there’s something cool happening. Stay tuned.

They posted the following on the social medias:

Elder announce European tour

We’re back on the autobahn and beyond again this fall, sharing the first leg of our tour with the fantastic @ancestors (who have a killer new album out) Let us know below what show you’ll be at!

Also, we’ve got another exciting announcement regarding new music coming in the near future…

29.09. UK – Sheffield, O2 Academy, Doom vs. Stoner Festival*
30.09. UK – Glasgow, The Audio*
01.10. UK – Leeds, TBA*
02.10. UK – Manchester, The Rebellion*
03.10. UK – Coventry, The Phoenix*
04.10. UK – Bristol, The Fleece*
05.10. UK – London, Garage*
06.10. CH – Pratteln, Up In Smoke Festival*
07.10. I – Milan, Legend*
08.10. I – Bologna, Freak Out / Locomotive*
09.10. I – Rome, Evol*
10.10. I – Fabriano, Sonic Room*
11.10. CRO – Zagreb, Vintage Industrial Bar*
12.10. HUN – Budapest, Dürer Kert*
14.10. B – Antwerp, Trix, Desertfest*
15.10. GER – Hannover, Chez Heinz*
16.10. GER – Berlin, S036*
17.10. GER – Dortmund, Junkyard*
18.10. F – Paris, Glazart*
19.10. NL – Leeurwarden, Neushoorn, Into the Void*
20.10. GER – Munich, Feierwerk, Keep It Low*
21.10. A – Vienna, Arena*

31.10. RUS – St Petersburg
01.11. RUS – Moscow
03.11. DK – Aalborg, Aalborg Metalfest
04.11. GER – Osnabrück, Bastard
05.11. GER – Karlsruhe, Stadtmitte
06.11. F – Poitiers, Le confort Moderne
07.11. E – Barcelona, Razzmatazz
08.11. E – Callosa De Segura (Alicante), Auditorium
09.11. E – Madrid, Nazca
10.10. I – Fabriano, Sonic Room
10.11. E – Bilbao, Santana 27
* with Ancestors

Artwork by @digitaldexter

http://facebook.com/elderofficial
https://www.instagram.com/elderband/
http://stickman-records.com
http://armageddonshop.com

Elder, Reflections of a Floating World (2017)

Tags: , , , , ,

Churchburn Post Video for “The Misery Hymns”; Album Release Show Set for Friday

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 10th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn

Churchburn make an awful lot of sense in a world utterly rife with daily horrors and panic. The deathly Providence, Rhode Island, sludge extremists are rearing back to unleash their second LP, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery (review here), via Armageddon Shop this weekend at a show at their hometown venue Dusk alongside DropdeadConclave and High Command, and to further herald the record’s arrival, they’ve teamed with Chariot of Black Moth to release a new video for the semi-titled-track “The Misery Hymns.” Appropriately enough, its imagery is dark, full of stark and dense grays and sudden flashing lights, and it seems to begin by dragging the viewer through a black hole. If it sounds severe, it is.

The album, which follows 2014’s The Awaiting Coffins (review here), toys throughout with the balance between death metal and sludge riffing, delighting in the wretchedness it conjures while it obliterates that genre line. In songs like “Lines of Red” and “The Misery Hymns,” it is unbridled in its heft, but there’s a pervasive sense of atmosphere as well, and Churchburn never seem to lose sight of that underlying purpose, as brutal as they might and do get. The result is a record the weight of which stems from more than just its tones. The sound of it is menacing in the moment and haunting after, and its sense of punishment is likewise multi-tiered.

It goes without saying the release show will be completely ridiculous. An absolute onslaught and one that, should you be in the area, you’ll want to hit up even if you don’t know you want to hit it up.

The video follows here. Please enjoy:

Churchburn, “The Misery Hymns” official video

Huge Thanks to Jakub of Chariot Of Black Moth for making this video for us… for the song, “Misery Hymns”. New album out July, Friday the 13th, on Armageddon Shop Label…”None Shall Live…The Hymns of Misery”

Churchburn live:
07.14 Dusk Providence RI – Record Release Show w/ Dropdead, High Command & Conclave
10.05 Geno’s Portland ME – Into the Aether II Festival

Churchburn on Thee Facebooks

Churchburn on Bandcamp

Armageddon Shop website

Armageddon Shop label webstore

Tags: , , , , ,

Churchburn, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery: Vita ex Mortis

Posted in Reviews on June 4th, 2018 by JJ Koczan

churchburn none shall live the hymns of misery

It’s a different Churchburn on the second album than it was on the first. The core duo of guitarist/vocalist Dave Suzuki (formerly of Vital Remains) and drummer Ray McCaffrey (formerly of Sin of Angels and Grief) are joined by guitarist Timmy St. Amour (ex-Howl) and bassist/vocalist Derek Moniz (ex-HeadRot), as well as guests Andy Grant adding noise/ambience and ex-member Mike Cordoso contributing backing vocals, for None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery, and as the follow-up to 2014’s The Awaiting Coffins (review here), the new outing immediately has a high standard to live up to in brutality and atmosphere alike. That challenge is met with a gleefully extreme seven-track/45-minute run that takes the basic model of the first album, which bridged together the often disparate styles of death metal and sludge, and makes the sound even more cohesive and individualized as the band’s own.

From the opening minute-long feedback introduction in “Vexare” through the chugs, shouts, nods and viciousness that follows until the acoustic notes that precede the ultra-slowdown roll of closer “Kaustos,” Churchburn conjure a vision of lumbering madness that, despite its bite and general abrasiveness, succeeds in its mission to cull together the multiple styles by which it’s influenced into a single impression. That is, where The Awaiting Coffins set death metal and sludge against each other on a collection drawn from the band’s original demo and two more recent recordings, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery feels more like a complete album, but one that unquestionably benefits from the experience of its predecessor. It brings its tectonic deathsludge together with a smashing weight worthy of inclusion in conversations alongside acts like Primitive Man, but also uses that as a foundation to branch out in different directions, showing some YOB influence on centerpiece “Authorized to Cleanse” — sonically if not in philosophy — and still finding room stomach-turning tension in the rhythm of the penultimate “Relieved by Burning Lead.”

What’s important to understand — and one can hear it in the eight-plus-minute second cut “Lines of Red,” on which Suzuki‘s blown-out vocals call to mind the heyday of Maryland’s Swarm of the Lotus, as well as the brazen lead guitar melodies and deft rhythmic turns of “Before the Inferno” — is that none of this has happened by mistake. There’s consciousness at work behind these songs, and while I’m not sure I’d call the material progressive, it has progressed from where Churchburn were four and five years ago. A solidified full lineup is likely to have something to do with that, but even in the sense of menace that marks the sample at the start of “Relieved by Burning Lead” or the build into the churning highlight and semi-title-track, “The Misery Hymns,” it is a willful execution of creative intent at work, not happenstance of throwing together riffs and seeing what happens. And with Suzuki and McCaffrey both still present as the driving force behind the group, Churchburn seem just to have begun a new stage of their overarching growth. The interplay of rhythm and lead layers on “Authorized to Cleanse,” which gives way to a blastbeat-laden attack that’s both one of the most poised and most outwardly searing on the record, speaks to the capacities of the new lineup, but at the same time, it’s clear that the moves Churchburn are making are the result of lessons learned from the debut.

churchburn

While almost a first offering unto itself for being the premiere with this lineup, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is very much a second full-length, and one that only pushes further along the encouraging lines of its predecessor. To wit, the shifting pace of “Before the Inferno,” which moves fluidly from sharp-edged twists through sections of faster chugging into more drawn out and doomed atmospheric roll, marks the kind of execution that, however much experience the players might have in previous bands, would be incredibly rare on a debut. McCaffrey‘s double-kick, Suzuki‘s distorted screams at the apex and the thud that finishes all delve deeper into the consuming aspects of the album as a whole listening experience, and while there are no shortage of headbang-worthy — let’s say, in your kitchen, 5AM, through laptop speakers headbanging, or, you know, at a show — moments of raw punishment, Churchburn have as much to say in ambience as they do in onslaught.

But here too the story is one of cohesion, and like the haunting grin of the horned figure on the Nestor Avalos cover art, None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery casts much of its violence in subtlety. Even beneath the lurch of “Vexare” at the outset, one can hear in the low end of bass and guitar a push that seems to move downward and downward, not just following the march of the drums into the rest of the album that follows, but gradually leading the listener out of the light and into the manifestations of darkness to come. And at the end, the nylon-string guitar introducing “Kaustus” would seem to offer a moment of hope or respite, but the lumber that ensues and the panicking screams at the end provide one last look at the terrors already witnessed; a final reminder of the power Churchburn seem to find in the murk of their own creation.

Though it sounds insane, it’s methodical, so maybe psychopathic is a better term for what’s happening throughout these tracks, but in any case, by realizing this merciless intent, the band leaves no question as to the success of the album. It has been made with the intention to damn the spirit as well as the eardrums, and while there are stretches for which there will never seem to be enough volume — again, “Lines of Red” — None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is more than just aural sadism. It is crafted dark art and a work of precise concept that leaves more in its wake than simple bruises. If it is foreshadow, it portends utter devastation should Churchburn be able to continue along its line of progress, and if it is an ultimate expression, its triumph is writ large in every destructive second of its passing.

Churchburn on Thee Facebooks

Churchburn on Bandcamp

Armageddon Shop website

Armageddon Shop label webstore

Tags: , , , , ,