Neurot Records does well in finding bands aligned with the vision of its founders, the mighty Neurosis—and this California outfit is no exception. The second album from Sacramento quintet CHRCH (the u is not only silent, but invisible?) features just three tracks spanning 45 minutes. Suffice to say, there are a few lengthy post-sludge epics on here.
They actually start off with the longest song and get (relatively) shorter, with opening track “Infinite” clocking in at almost 21 minutes. As you might imagine, this one takes a little while to get going, with a lonely, longing guitar line ringing out over a barely audible whispered vocal for the first couple minutes, before a thudding drumbeat joins the fray. The full band comes in gradually, although things don’t really pick up until a heavier riff accompanies a Neurosis-style wail around the 5:30 mark.
From there, they move more toward blackened sludge territory, sounding somewhat akin to Portland’s Usnea (a band that’s surprisingly not on Neurot), with some very vicious black-metal vocals. The song slows to a fuzzy crawl around the halfway mark, veering back toward melodic post-rock, with a more soothing vocal performance, before ending with some more straightforward doom-metal riffs in the final four minutes, with added shades of Windhand in the vocal department.
“Portals,” which is just shy of 15 minutes, delivers some heavy, sludgy doom riffs right from the get-go, in sharp contrast to the sickly-sweet female vocals, which briefly give way to guttural death-metal growls around the three-minute mark. The super-slow, bone-crushing riffs that follow would not sound out of place on a funeral doom album, although the soaring female vocals reappear in a duet with a droning, OM-style male voice making for another contrasting effect… before they veer off into more black-metal territory past the five-minute mark… for a couple minutes. Then it’s back to crushing post-sludge with more soaring vocals, before ending on a softer, shoegazey note, one with heavily distorted guitars.
The slow, mournful opening section of “Aether” (nine-and-a-half minutes, in case you were wondering) reminds me of Warning, continuing its dirge-like procession for several minutes, adding some very un-Walker-like black metal howls around the five-minute mark. And then, at the seven-minute mark, they go full black metal, speeding up the pace to faster than they’ve ever played, along with howling vocals that may or may not be forming full sentences. Although they slow things down for the final minute or so, it might be the most unsettling transition I’ve heard all year.
MAY 3: Fister + CHRCH – Oslo
MAY 8: Fister + CHRCH – Glasgow, United Kingdom
MAY 11: Fister + CHRCH and Throatsnapper – Toliary, Madagascar
MAY 15: Fister + CHRCH – Geneva, Switzerland
JUNE 15 – 18: CHRCH – Austin Terror Fest 2018