Review: Churchburn – None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery

Cover Artwork

Label: Armageddon Shop

None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is an album every bit as heavy as you’d hope, what with a title like that. The latest record from Churchburn is 45 minutes of aural punishment, filled with tar-drenched sludge riffs, an aura of extreme doom malevolence, and shot through with crust-inspired dirt. It’s the sound of veteran musicians who are masters of their craft, using all their experience to summon up the sounds of hurt and viciousness, with the end results being as impressive as they are crushing.

Right from the opening track, ‘Vexare’, it’s clear that None Shall Live… is going to be a riff-heavy album. Said riffs move like some primal predator, with a confidence born of being top of the food chain; weighty, powerful, devastating. They are as much of burning temples and blasphemies as they are something more primitive, with their most direct moments being gloriously unsubtle in their heft and power. And yet, there are moments of subtle melody and sophistication there, too, as with the background melodies halfway through ‘Lines of Red’. This contrast makes the heavy moments hit all the harder.

It’s made even better by the way that Churchburn mix some dirty crust elements in to their sludge-heavy crawl. Whist a sense of dirt and nastiness is practically a prerequisite to sludge being successful, adding touches of crust-inspired viciousness and gutter-level decay makes None Shall Live… feel even darker than it otherwise would. It’s a devastating combination of sounds, providing a very effective sense of contrast, ensuring that the album has some variation in tempo and emphasis.

The focus is very much on slowed-down heaviness though, with the majority of songs moving little more than a mid-tempo stomp, utterly assured in their stride as they devastate everything around them. There is nothing pretty about this album, just hit after hit after hit of bone-shattering riffs and drums, all topped off with vocals that are filled with hate and hurt in equal measure.

What truly impresses about None Shall Live… though, is the all-consuming atmosphere it creates. As strong as the riffs and song-writing is, the album’s most captivating aspect is the way it pulls the listener in to its world of darkness, suffocating them with its nihilism and starving them of all light. The subtle dark ambiance of Andy Grant (of The Vomit Arsonist) also plays a big part in constructing this atmosphere – it’s hard to pick out specific contributions, but you sense his touch is there, infecting the record with decay and ruin. This is not music for good times, or for casual listening; it’s an album that demands a lot of you, even if most of the riffs are front-loaded in their appeal. It can be difficult to spend long in this album’s company, but doing so is a rewarding, cathartic experience.

None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery is due for release on 13 July 2018. It can be pre-ordered on vinyl, CD, and cassette via Armageddon Shop. Follow the band on Bandcamp for details of a digital release.

 

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