12th April 2017 – Self-released
06. I Am
08. The End
Bowing out in spectacular fashion with not only this full length record but the follow-up Burial EP that was released in the twenty-four hours following this, Danish metallic hardcore band Église successfully manage to finish things off as violently as they started them.
Melding chaotic, discordant hardcore with post-hardcore, atmospheric post-metal and a decidedly sludgy production aesthetic, The Past builds on the foundations set by their adrenaline-fuelled self-titled debut but with an added progressive streak peering out of the woodwork in many of the tracks. One of the most instantly noticeable and captivating elements of the record is how pronounced the bass guitar is, in the way it is mixed and how it plays a prominent role in many spots across the album. It takes centre stage towards the end of “Eulogy”, creating an ancient, metallic, barren atmosphere with an eerie motif of harmonics really pushing the experimental post metal sound to the fore-front of your attention. In contrast, the bass adds an incredible dissonant melodic counterpoint to the main guitar melody in “Locust” which plays into the mathcore elements of the record, and with the energy of the d-beat drumming definitely feels like a tip of the hat to pioneering bands like Converge.
As well as the sonic palette and blend of styles present on The Past being proof of their experimentation, Église also take many creative liberties in the riffs and song structuring showing an impressive attention to detail in the minutiae. The syncopated shots of discordant guitars that sync up with the drums in “Eulogy” and the monstrous, aptly named closing track “The End” become almost hypnotic upon repetition, feeling as if they have been touched by the ghosts of some of drone and experimental rock’s most notable bands such as Swans.
While there are a few spots that are so saturated they become distracting, particularly the densely packed guitar and bass layers in “Jars”, what really helps tie the record together is its balance of chaos and post-hardcore inspired melody. To solidify this, frontman Martin Nielskov’s tortured, screamed vocals lend themselves fluidly to each aspect of the record perfectly, to the point where the reverb that is placed on his vocals and the tremolo picked guitar melody in “The End” even evokes a modern atmospheric black metal quality without it sounding out of place.
With blasts of blistering feedback, thunderous bass and all of the mathcore riff wizardry you could ever hope for, Église leave us with a bold swan song for their short but impressive discography. The follow-up Burial EP has a far more traditional melodic backbone to it in contrast to the sludgy leanings of The Past, giving fans the opportunity to see the band’s vast experience in various styles across a short time period just before they disbanded. It’s a shame to see them go so early but with the cathartic energy of two powerful full lengths and an EP they have left us to bask in, we can sit back, relax and digest all of their intricacies at our leisure.