Église - "Église"
Namechecking Converge is a cliche at this point, but their shadow over the chaotic hardcore scene is so long, and their approach so thoroughly and repeatedly aped, that it’s pretty much the norm to emulate some aspect of Converge’s monolithic 2001 record whose name you’re already mouthing if you’re at all familiar with hardcore/metalcore. Jane Doe is “why Converge is my favorite band,” “the album that got me into hardcore,” “when I really got heavy music,” and so much more to such a vast majority of metal and hardcore enthusiasts that I really shouldn’t be so surprised to hear Église, a group hailing from way out in Denmark, capitalizing on it to deliver these twenty-three minutes of dark, solid hardcore.
It would be pretty reductive to say that Église only sounds like Converge since there is plenty of color and shading here, with the band’s crust and grind influences bared on shorter cuts like “For All That Is Growing” and “Blood Vessels” and the heaving “Have I Become Hell” testifying their love of all things slow and sludgy. Indeed, while the vocals are decidedly from the Jacob Bannon school of raw-throated screeching, the effects of Botch’s mathcore reign and the Dillinger Escape Plan’s disregard for stable time signatures are all over the record. Best of all, Église’s instrumentals rarely get incomprehensibly noisy for the sake of it—they have a wonderful knack for keeping things speedy and dense without suffocating the listener. Even at its most angular, the songwriting always moves toward clear climaxes, providing moments of straight dissonance (“A Host of Sparrows”) with context in which to split your ears, something that can’t be said for a lot of bands practicing in this vein. At times, Église reminds me of the improved follow-up to Gaza’s I Don’t Care Where I Go When I Die we didn’t quite get with He Is Never Coming Back, and at other times of a more concise version of Seizures excellent The Sanity Universal, another Converge-styled effort that pays dividends over multiple listens.
As the first straight-ahead hardcore album I’ve heard this year, Église’s self-titled is going to be tough to beat. While the band could do more to step out of the collective shadow of the subgenre’s greats, it’s not necessarily a bad place to be when you consider the sheer quality of these eight tracks. Once they cut their teeth on a couple more releases and find their footing in the hardcore landscape, I think it’s safe to bet that Église will capture the wider international audience that deserves to hear them, and that they deserve to be heard by.
- Brian L.