Release DetailsLABEL Woodcut Records
RELEASED ON 3/20/2006
posted on 5/2006 By:
I’ve tried writing this review at least a dozen times, to no avail. It sucks when an album kicks my ass, and at this point, my shoulder is still pinned down at the two count, with the three count rapidly approaching. So, this is my last attempt to kick out of the pin and beat this fucker, before I go tend to my wounds for a few weeks. The cause of the stress in this instance is brought forth in the form of five-piece Finnish outfit Enochian Crescent’s Black Church, an album about as confusing as, well, heterosexual drag queens.
Maybe it would be easiest to try to split this review into two different perspectives, one practical and boring, the other a little closer to how I really feel. The first viewpoint concerns the actual music on Black Church, which is painfully tight, and reinforced by some rather sturdy musicianship. A respectable production job gives things a crisp, clean finish, without yanking the balls off of the riffs with its bare hands like some deranged, suspicious housewife accusing her husband of infidelity. Instead, the mix cups those sonic passion plums of creativity (gay enough for ya’, ladies?) with a firm yet reasonably comfortable grip, letting the musical expressions thrash along tumultuously through many different and contrasting technical black metal passages. Now when I say black metal, I don’t mean the symphonic, ambient, or raw stuff. Enochian Crescent see fit to fuck with our heads by giving things a strange, nearly frantic Grand Declaration Of War vibe, which is another album that caused me a great deal of grief.
The ripping opening track “Tatan” is a wickedly catchy, off-kilter blast of a tune which takes as much from Cannibal Corpse-ish rhythmic fretwork as it does from Mayhem-inspired velocity, leading into the whirling, compressed technicality of “Tango Absentino” which shows the first of many folk influences. The triplicate shouted ‘HAIL!!!’ (it could just be ‘hey’, hard to tell) of “Chalk Face” sounds inspired and uncontrived, a rarity in my opinion, aligning with the marching rhythms in a way that isn’t banal or hackneyed. And then to fuck with me more, they get all Opeth with the gentle acoustic transition from the ruminating “Thousand Shadows”, to the melancholic, graceful “Ghost Of Saturn”. The pace quickens again with “The Imperfect Vision”, before an ill-placed, unfocused midsection waylays the tune for a few moments, and never recovers despite a really cool, stiffly riffed crunch segue before concluding rather plainly. The feisty marching rhythms reemerge on “Hendekagrammaton”, which is where the album really begins to lose me with one of its only flaws, the sometimes unrelated, uncoordinated songwriting.
While all that might sound appealing to some of you, now is where I get to the part which has frustrated me for a good month or two now about this disc. No matter how hard I try to push the image from my skull, this album brings to mind some characters from a movie featuring a princess with cinnamon buns stuck to the sides of her head, and a blond prissy dude swinging around a glowing stick that slices you in half, or evaporates you. No, don’t think about outer space, or massive empires, but instead, think of small hooded creepy desert dwellers having a festival, or perhaps a band of demented, Satanic, drunken bearlike creatures jumping from tree to tree in the woods. That’s what pops in my head. It sounds like trollish creatures celebrating a blood festival, cheerfully, and the Head Gnome is telling us all about it in a gravelly, misshapen voice I can’t take remotely seriously. Don’t ask me why, and I’m not saying it’s bad because in fact it’s immensely entertaining, but Black Church is, above all else, a fucking weird and unintentionally comedic album, that sounds sprightly when it isn't supposed to.
It’s a shame how the songwriting loses a bit of steam as the disc goes on, relying more on the cohesion of the first 5 songs, with the remaining 4 somehow falling apart and losing direction. Some of the last tunes just leave ideas hanging in mid-air with no strong points, or peaks & valleys explored, to the detriment of the album as a whole. Perhaps that’s where my discontent comes in, because while the intent is spirited enough, there are holes in the quality of the product overall, resulting in a grouchy, somewhat neutralized after effect. Walking away bloodied, dazed, and still slightly confused, my time spent with Enochian Crescent’s latest is an experience I won’t soon forget, try as I might. I'm glad it's over.
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