PICK OF THE WEEK: CHRCH’s smoky doom touches life, loss, healing with ‘Light Will Consume Us All’

Photo by Joshua Coleman

Everyone’s journey through life is completely different from that of others, and I always find it irritating when people can’t comprehend how someone could be in a situation of struggle. Just because your life is going well or you have not faced hardships doesn’t mean the person next to you hasn’t. And it’s that other person’s right to deal with hardships and darkness or celebrate whatever triumphs that come their way.

That whole idea of people’s lives being different and being oblivious of, and even callous toward, another’s struggles sunk in while listening to “Light Will Consume Us All,” the gargantuan new record from Sacramento-based doom band CHRCH that’s about to drop like an anvil. The record’s thematic elements examine one’s journey through life, the losses and hardships we face, and the hopeful emergence into light and positivity once the hurdles are cleared. But not everyone finds that bright light. Some people’s suffering becomes too much that a positive outcome just isn’t possible. Hope can be hard to find, and staying attuned to other people who might not be on the same path as we perhaps can help another in darkness find their way out. Anyway, that’s a little heady, so let’s turn to the music (which is a follow-up to their amazing 2015 debut “Unanswered Hymns). The band—vocalist Eva Rose, guitarist/backing vocalists Chris Lemos and Karl Cordtz, bassist Ben Carthcart, and drummer Adam Jennings—craft long, enduring epics that largely are slower, more calculated in approach, but make no mistake, there are explosions here as well. Rose’s vocals are powerful and mesmerizing, an ideal mouthpiece for this band that takes you out of the darkness into the light and sometimes back again.

Opener “Infinite” is the longest song of the three, a 20:41 bruiser that takes its time setting up the ambiance. Guitars drip in, as Rose whispers over the impending doom, and things stay that way until around the 5:30 mark when the bottom drops out. Riffs rush, the drums quake, and Rose’s singing stretches over the din, eventually turning into a corroded growl. Darker melodies arrive, while Rose’s shrieks shatter any sense of calm, and the guitars begin to buzz and overwhelm. Out of that, the pace pulls back and lets the lights dim, with softer singing floating, and that solemnity taking over a nice chunk of the last half of the song. But with four minutes remaining, the hammer drops again, as Rose’s haunting singing rips over the fires, gazey guitars flood and swell, and the track comes to a burning, punishing conclusion.

“Portal” runs 14:49, and it begins in pure devastation, with understated, breathy singing, and then the heaviness delivered in heaping servings. Rose’s shrieks mix with guttural growls, as the tempo of the song goes from volcanic to gently storming, all the while, the singing complements the moods ideally. Rose unleashes some of her strongest vocals, as emotional, melodic guitars create a foaming wave, the soloing belts out fire balls, and a calm emerges, where drums roll through the dusk, bringing the song to its nighttime finish. Closer “Aether” is the shortest song but still runs a generous 9:29, and it begins mournfully, with a pall over everything. Slow-moving melodies and soulful singing push through before feral growls emerge to turn things to ash. The band slips into an extended period of pulled-back playing, making you think they’re ready to submerge, but then an assault strikes you won’t see coming. The pace speeds up in a way foreign to most doom, going for the jugular, while Rose pours even more of herself into the terrifying growls and cries. The band storms like never before, saturating and damaging the shore, creating an impenetrable cloud, and bringing the ritual to an end in a foreboding fog.

CHRCH are building one hell of a resume that continues with “Light Will Consume Us All,” one of the more immersive and captivating doom records so far this year That title is a reminder that, no matter how great or low once may be, we all end up the same way, as souls drifting off into the unknown. CHRCH have a startling grasp on what they do, and their music can devastate, infect, and intoxicate you all at the same time.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/chrchdoomca

To buy the album, go here: https://neurotrecordings.merchtable.com/

For more on the label, go here: https://www.neurotrecordings.com/