(Blood & Ink Records)
Indiana’s Church Tongue are notably infamous/famous for an incident in which their guitarist set himself on fire, so it’s fitting that their debut is delightfully incendiary. Also, it’s nice to see a band with enough substance to back up a gimmick. The group’s take on metalcore is certainly influenced by groups like Botch, Underoath, Norma Jean, and Vanna (the latter’s vocalist features on the vitriolic “Medicine Breath”); which is to say it’s hefty and raw, as opposed to the clean-cut, djentrified version current en vogue (or is it out of style? I am realizing I’m no longer the target audience for trendy tunes…).
Church Tongue dole out doses of feedback, Southern-fried riffs, and gloriously spastic drumming which keep things interesting throughout these 11 tracks. Aside from creeping, menacing melodies laid beneath crushing rhythmic riffs,Heart Failure isn’t a particularly melodic release. The band prefer to spew fire, and that decision makes the record more compelling. The band eschews any salve to ease their blazing metallic hardcore (save for the sub-par spoken word “7:20”), and while a little respite would be nice, it mostly works in the band’s favor.
That harsh sense applies to the stories Heart Failure tells, too.I appreciate when crushing albums are equally lyrically and thematically heavy, and Church Tongue has that down in spades. Heart Failure is a lyrically dense record, as vocalist Michael Sugars delves into a sort of an existential crisis, and the lyrics are certainly haunting and weighty. The band took lyrical inspiration from My Chemical Romance, and while the record isn’t quite as over-the-top as MCR (thankfully), Sugars does take on a theatrical personality from time to time.
The album isn’t perfect, but it’s issues are expected of a band honing in on its sound. Heart Failure is a tad uneven, where the band spends a bit too much time on a heavy atmsophere over riffs (more tunes like “Acid Jesus” please). However, and despite the long discussion about how weighty and substantial this record is, Heart Failure is, above all, quite a good bit of fun. There are a ton of riffs and breakdowns that lodge themselves in your cranium, and you’ll find yourself air-guitaring or air-drumming (one breakdown in particular is just a blast) for weeks. Church Tongue may be that band that lit themselves on fire, but it’s clear their passion and drive to write fantastic old-school metallic hardcore are going to be much more memorable down the road.