“Light will consume us all,” the 2018 album from the Sacramento doom metal band CHRCH proclaims via its title. The title reflects the content of the record effectively; rather than hitting you with a wall of sound, as other bands might, CHRCH pulls you into a huge, intentionally ritualistic-feeling musical undertaking. At first as a listener, you’re slowly but surely “consumed” more than you’re left spinning thanks to intensity. You’re pulled along as if you’re walking into a quiet forest at night. As you keep walking, the forest starts to grow louder — and soon, you get to ground in front of you that’s exploded into raging flames.
Light Will Consume Us All contains a strong dichotomy that was, again, intentional, the band’s guitarist Chris explains.
“Our main vision with the album is the contrast between light and dark and however you look at that, whether it be in life, or in the physical world, or just how they relate to each other,” he says. The band also incorporated a focus on “the ultimate outcome and hope for redemption and hope for resolution in the end.”
As he puts it, “Life’s all about contrasts, right? Nothing’s ever always good and nothing’s ever always bad.”
Artistically and technically speaking, the broad goal that CHRCH had going into the writing process for their new record was to push their music to further extremes than before. Those extremes could encapsulate either quiet softness or mind enveloping intensity. The band just wanted to go there, wherever that “there” was, producing something with as broad and sweeping of a dynamic as possible in the process.
As Chris tells it: “We didn’t really set out to do any one specific thing, like it was never like ‘we want this record to be heavier or louder’ or whatever. We just wanted to push what we already knew we were capable of doing and what we had already done to the limits and just expand it in all directions — like make the heavy parts heavier, the quiet parts quieter, have it be way more dynamic and have more intricacies within the songs themselves.”
They’re truly representing something natural here; for the writing process to take that form perhaps lets an extra intense feeling shine through the music. There’s no sense that something is contrived. What you’re listening to on the album is “really happening” — which itself is an aspect to their music that Chris explains the band as conscious of without focusing on.
As he puts it: “The theatrical side of it is definitely something that we always keep in mind while writing, but I also know that the composition and the musicality is just as important. It all plays its own role in what we’re trying to do. Everything should stand as strong separately as it is together.”
Chris explains that all along for CHRCH, the music creation process has been rather natural; they’ve never been ones for excessively specific goals beyond those mentioned already. They have drawn inspiration as a group from diverse sources and combined them into a new living organism of sound.
“We’re just writing what naturally comes to us,” he says. “The dynamics within the band vary and all of our personal influences vary so it’s going to be hard to have something come out that sounds contrived because we’re all coming from such varied backgrounds but also have similar interests.”
The at times divergent influences of the band members converge on such commonalities as northern California where the band is based, which Chris touts as close to an array of impressive natural environments that he himself has taken in since he was a kid.
CHRCH’s Place In The Doom Scene
Going back a bit, the members of the group didn’t even initially set out to make a doom band. As friends who have known each other and played in the same scenes as each other for awhile, they just aimed to make music and that’s the sort that came out.
Even still, they’re hardly not at ease with their position as a group now that they’ve assumed a generally doom infused status. One of their first shows ever was with Bell Witch, which Chris explains as an honor.
He continues: “There are so many bands that are doing stuff like that. It’s easy to be stoked on music that we’re playing when there are so many good bands within the scene that we’re in.” Other bands besides Bell Witch that he mentions as worthy of appreciation in the doom scene include YOB, which just recently came out with Our Raw Heart, their latest full length studio effort as of spring 2018.
The “consumption” that a fan might experience while taking in CHRCH’s music either alone or in a live setting certainly reflects a trend in the broader doom community.
It’s inherent in the music CHRCH makes — this is something to experience, not just listen to.
“The live show is definitely a lot more cathartic [than before] and sort of ritualistic in a way,” Chris explains. “We definitely take it in while we’re playing. It’s an emotional and physical workout while we play — and mental.”
For CHRCH, that experiential music making and performance process allows Chris to feel free to invite listeners to draw their own interpretations about the music his band makes.
“We like to leave it up to the listener’s interpretation,” he explains. “Whatever you think we sound like is what we sound like to you and that’s awesome. We don’t want to come across as ‘we are a doom band’ because if you don’t think we are then that’s cool.”
Going forward, Chris says: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing right now, trying to broaden our horizons, and push the limits of what we know and what we can do to as far as we can reach them. If that comes out as something fresh, that’s awesome, and if that comes out as something that fits in with a lot of other shit, that’s awesome too. We’re just trying to do what we enjoy and what we want to put out. We’re trying to make music we want to listen to.”
For now, fans can catch CHRCH at an array of live stops throughout 2018. Check out their newest album via Spotify below.