Death can be a powerful impetus. It’s been a driver for a lot of heavy music over the years. For Rhode Island’s Churchburn, it was the loss of Dave Suzuki’s (vocals/guitar) father that brought the band together for their newest full-length effort, Genocidal Rite. Now in their 10th year as a band, the album marks a culmination of growth and effort over a decade as well as an avenue for further experimentation and new ideas in the wake of personal loss.
“There was definitely a force behind this recording after my dad passed away. In truth, this whole album is because of his passing,” Suzuki states about the origin of Genocidal Rite. “It set off a spark that carried us through the entire process from writing, re-writing, and recording. We had a collection of songs that Ray [McCaffrey, drums] and I weren’t excited about. After some discussion, we started rewriting and re-arranging the songs for this album in November of 2020. The band wasn’t happy with the songs in general and didn’t know where to go with them in their current state.”
As with many other bands during the last 18 months or so, the members of Churchburn had time during the earlier days of the present pandemic to sort the record out. Suzuki continues, “Basically, during the COVID lockdown, Ray and I started deconstructing the songs to try to make them stronger. We were shooting for January 2021 to start recording but things fell through, which gave us more time to mold the songs to our liking. Once we were all able to get back into the same jam room, we showed Timmy [St. Amour, guitars] and Derek [Moniz, bass/vocals] the new version of the songs and asked for their opinions. A few more crucial tweaks were made to where they finally became solidified into the songs that are on this album.”
The recording process for the record was a bit different than what Churchburn was used to. In addition to a revitalized approach to these new songs, they found production help from a newer talent. The band employed Jamie Gazerro to record the album in his new start-up studio, The Red Room, in Attleboro Massachusetts. McCaffrey describes the time with Gazerro.
“While we were going through the process of doing a pre-production recording to map out all the parts, musically—before going into the ‘real’ studio—Dave recently recorded drums for another project he does, DNR, at our friend’s start-up studio in November 2020. Dave had a great experience there and asked if he’d be willing to do a pre-production recording for Churchburn’s new album. Mind you, this would be his second time, ever, recording a band. So, our expectations were low and that was okay,” McCaffrey explains.
“Starting from February to April 2021, it played out like normal: go in, set up, get sounds and levels, then start tracking. You never know how the final product will come out at the beginning of the session. I had my ‘sound’ in my head before we started. It was ambitious indeed. After the drum tracks were finished, we would go there every weekend for the next three months and chip away at everything else. We started to notice that Jamie was taking these sessions very seriously and that made us want to do our best while we were there—still believing that we’d eventually go and record at a ‘real’ studio after this,” He continues.
“Around month number two in his studio, we were hearing tones and sounds, not of a novice engineer but from someone who understands how to engineer heavy music. I believe it was at this point where Dave and I were confident that the album could be done here and that this ‘newbie’ would be able to pull it off. It took all of us to mold this record together. It became the ‘sound’ I hoped for from the very beginning.”
Genocidal Rite also features an appearance from Incantation‘s John McEntee, who lends his voice to the album’s punishing finale, “Sin of Angels.” That addition to Churchburn’s pitch black death metal makes the track an immediate highlight on the record. Similarly, it was a highlight of the recording process for the band as well.
“It was an absolute blast and honor to have a longtime friend and major influence John McEntee of Incantation be able to take part on this album,” McCaffrey says. “He was able to lend his legendary vocals to the song. He has always been a true friend and huge supporter of the underground.”
Ultimately, Genocidal Rite is a powerful display of extreme music. The quartet dials in some of their best music to date. Earworm riffs and thunderous low-end contributions make a sinister concoction of death, black, doom, and sludge metal. Derek Moniz sums it up best by saying, “This album to me is a product of the progression of how the band has evolved since I joined. The chemistry and musicianship from all of us have been solid. I’m very content with how the record came out.”
Listen to an exclusive stream of Genocidal Rite and pick up a copy of the album now through Translation Loss Records ahead of its release this Friday.