Bye bye Richard Ploog and the classic Church lineup, hello noodly epics!
Priest = Aura
huh? That title makes no sense to me at all. They should've just called it 'Ridiculous Pseudo-Mythical Ramblings About A Fantasy World That Only Exists In Our Singer / Bassplayer's Head, Over Some of the Best Music We've Ever Created and Subsequently Ruined', because at least that title would lay all the cards on the table, and you'd know what you're getting into from the outset.
Drummer Richard Ploog, who'd been with the band since the second album I believe, quit after the Gold Afternoon Fix
tour, to be replaced by Jay Dee Daugherty, who is good. But who listens to a Church record for the drumming, so unless the guy was awful, you probably wouldn't notice.
The core trio of Kilbey, Willson-Piper, and Koppes is still in place, and the musical chemistry between them is bubbling over, making this probably the band's strongest album in musical terms. They are mostly back to guitarscapes, but they're also applying a big budget, cinematic, layered, lushness to their epics, to create a majestic, intricate, and ultimately beautiful sound.
From the menacing opener "Aura" through the swirling Cure-ish 6-string bass feature "Paradox", to the nearly 10-minute Chameleons-sounding epic "Chaos", there is - musically speaking - not a bad or even a bland song in the bunch.
Too bad then that Kilbey is the singer in this band, because he single-handedly ruins what would otherwise be the band's best album. There's no Willson-Piper or Koppes songs to be found - even if they basically sing about the same things, at least they have some sort of inflection in their vocals. Not Kilbey though ... whether it's a secret society he's been kidnapped by, or a circus-like ramble about witch burnings, he's gonna sound bored out of his mind either way.
Only on the instrumental closer "Film" does this album's squandered potential really emerge, for without Kilbey's vocals it's practically the best track. A real shame, and I can't believe some people actually consider this The Church's best work. Musically, yes - the only other time they've sounded this beautifully gloomy was on Starfish
- but overall, no way.Rated:
by Reviewer: Austin
(blogging at Austin's Page