Crackling like a degraded tape in between giant stoner doom riffs the post-metallic sludge of Sacramento’s CHRCH seems impossibly distant as the band flips the table on the immediate intensity of their debut with the slow build of ‘Light Will Consume Us All’. Knowing the quintet’s talent for phasic and inebriating depressive doom metal the work-up of “Infinite” feels like a lifetime with each successive spin, not far from the wandering dissociation of Bell Witch. Expectations are considerably high as ‘Unanswered Hymns’ rewarded every patient listen with the sluggish epic nature of early Pallbearer sandwiched between mountainous atmospheric sludge metal compositions. The climb atop ‘Light Will Consume Us All’ is less jagged and tumultuous as previous, with some slight shifts in production and line-up providing a lathe to smooth old edges over.
‘Light Will Consume Us All’ is more iteration and refinement than it is a sea-change for CHRCH. More demanding guitar and drum performances pulled from new blood set the droning heaviness of ‘Unanswered Hymns’ aside in favor of intentional quietude and allow vocalist Eva Rose space to explore greater range. Though the self-absorbed theatrics are missing, I get a heavy sensation of Warning influence in the more active guitar performances here, especially on the first half of “Aether”, and less of the hissing sludge metal arousal that’d been notable from the first record. This is less a complaint than an observation. There is a worthwhile trade-off happening here in terms of songwriting and the result is a more dynamic and modern record that loses a bit of it’s viscerally captivating doom riffing. Moments like the end of “Infinite”, the melodious sections of “Portals”, and the black metallic ending of “Aether” offer reasonable reparations for the loss of guitar gigantism.
Some of the greater joy of records like this lie in my appreciation for the catch-and-release ethos of ‘Times of Grace’ where the mind is given space to wander but snaps forceably back into the immediacy of the aggressive moments. In this sense CHRCH have room to grow in varying the complete experience with a broader range of sounds as they’ve nailed style but touch upon nothing sonically captivating, original or exceptional beyond Rose‘s vocal. ‘Light Will Consume Us All’ is a fine sludge metal record with modernist doom intentions and all of it works well enough without achieving the an certain enlightenment. No doubt if you liked the first album this will be a solid listen as well.
Apocalyptic luminaries. 3.25/5.0
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