It’s been about 18 or so months since Chicago’s Burning Churches blew me away with their debut EP, Defecation of the Tabernacle.
And instead of building upon the strong debut, which seamlessly marries Black, Death and Doom Metal, the band had to deal with the suicide of their drummer, Bill Bumgardner.
If the band had called it quits after such a devastating event, no one would have been surprised. But nearly a year later and the band are back with a new album, entitled, Pulpit of Avarice… Incidentally, Bill Bumgardner helped write the songs before he died, and the band have dedicated the release to his memory.
The album begins with a menacing intro, which is part Silent Hill or Resident Evil soundtrack, part morbid sounding piano playing… I say intro, it’s a 6.30 track called Belizebob. But it just hovers, like a fine mist across a desolate plain and as you wait for an explosive onslaught on the edge of your seat… you get double bluffed as it doesn’t arrive until the start of song number two, Wretched Homonculus.
Despite what the band have been through, I have to review this album objectively. So I don’t intend being nice just for the sake of it… but in all honestly, they’ve really taken everything to the next level with this album, especially with the aforementioned atmospherics.
The addition of Matthew Ganong on piano contributes yet another layer to their sound, which still sits comfortably slap bang in the middle of Death, Doom and Black Metal. And for a band to defy categorisation in this day and age, they must be doing something right.
Basically, they shoot off into a Technical Death vein one minute and they calm it down the next. The riffs range from Doomy to full on Black Metal, so you never know what to expect, and that’s a damn good thing as so much shit is very safe and predictable these days. And going back to the piano playing, Nocturne Of Avarice, sounds like the soundtrack to a Laurel and Hardy silent movie… but with Stan and Ollie as serial killers… dark shit indeed.
What else can I say? Well fucking done for getting everything back together and for releasing such a strong album. And to everyone else, go check these guys out asap.
*As a side note, the version on Bandcamp has 5 tracks, my promo actually has 7 tracks, so maybe I have the cd version…