Churchburn are one of those bands that I don’t understand how they’re not on the tip of people’s tongues instead of some of the shit that gets constant praise. The first time I had a chance to hear them was in their home of Providence, Rhode Island, a few years back and was absolutely impressed. Nasty and heavy doom without the 420 or cosmic trappings a lot of their peers tend to get stuck in. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to do some shows with them and catch them alongside Integrity at the A389 fest a few years back.
Churchburn is littered with New England metal royalty, notably Dave Suzuki (guitar/vocals, ex-Vital Remains), Timmy St Amour (guitar, Howl), Derek Moniz (bass, Black Acid Prophecy) and Ray McCaffery (drums, Sin of Angels, ex-Grief) but this is a monster all its own beyond having a stellar pedigree. The reason I’m pontificating on this is because they have a new full-length out via Armageddon Shop titled None Shall Live… Hymns of Misery which should be on your radar if you’re looking for some miserable summer listening.
I spoke with the members of Churchburn to gain some insight on the record and their lives in general. I wanted to know what the most important aspect of the record they wanted to put across to their listeners was.
“To bring the listener into our world. We really tried to combine both styles of Churchburn, from our first demo and The Awaiting Coffins, to eventually shape the songs that are on None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery. We wanted the music to match the lyrics… horrific in the lyrical content… with a heavy fucking soundtrack carrying them,” says Suzuki, to which McCaffery adds, “For me, it was the progression of our music. From the beginning Dave and I wanted to create something we both loved. Heavy, riff-driven songs. With 2014’s The Awaiting Coffins, I believe we achieved that and was quite happy with the outcome. The songs on that album were not just heavy but conveyed a sense of dread. With the new release None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery we wanted to continue to give the listener that same eerie feeling without recording the ‘same’ album. I believe the songs show a progression of where we have come in 6 years together as songwriters.”
Speaking of The Awaiting Coffins, where do they think None Shall Live… fits in with Churchburn’s legacy so far? Suzuki doesn’t seem to need to ponder this.
“It’s the evolution of Churchburn. We want to keep evolving into something we do not yet see at this current moment… sort of like The Thing where it looks like Churchburn on the outside, but the insides are mutating and churning into something new. We surprise ourselves on how songs are sometimes accidentally written. But there lies the answer all along; we just happened to stumble onto it.”
As I said before, the last time I saw Churchburn was at the A389 fest alongside several punk and hardcore bands. Do they ever think about if their music fits into the confines of genre? Do they give a fuck? All four members answer “no” with McCaffery adding, “I personally don’t care about those things. I would would rather go to shows that had a nice cross section of music. Let’s people discover new music… new ideas. Churchburn, I believe, is an ‘extreme music’ band. We could fit on any extreme music bill. Doom show, Black Metal show, Death metal show, Hard Core show, Etc… if your music is good and interesting, People will like it.”
None Shall Live... certainly can be considered a doom record but it’s so much more under its layers I almost hesitate to even give it a genre tag, except I’m a shitty writer and needed some way to describe it without going into hyperbole. Needless to say this is the kind of depth in a record that will affect you.
“I want the listener to know what I have gained musically from with all the years appreciating and listening to metal, and find a personal connection,” Moniz says. “Whether it is hearing a sound that reminds them of an old album, or pushes them a fresh new direction. I just want someone to find the authenticity behind what we are doing. This certainly isn’t a cookie-cutter run of the mill blackened metal album!”
“Hopefully a sense of beauty and fear the music presents,” McCaffery adds.
I understand you have a lot of choices of new metal coming out on a minute-by-minute basis but I urge you to take some time out of your day and listen to None Shall Live… The Hymns of Misery. This is harsh metal made by veterans of the scene who are still creating something out of their own passion, something a lot of bands filled with people old enough to be their kids can’t achieve. The record is out via Armageddon Shop and pairs nicely with any of the Dropdead vinyl the label also has in stock.
And on a related note: Bob Otis, the singer for the aforementioned Dropdead, was recently in a bad motorcycle accident and, seeing that this is America, his medical bills are fucking outrageous. Bob has been a massive presence in extreme music for decades now and could use some help. Armageddon Shop has set up a donation page to help with some of Bob’s extensive medical bills. If you wish to help out do so at this link.