Welcome back, Peter Koppes. Maybe it was the label's fault The Church got all super-glossy and shitty. Maybe Koppes is the secret weapon ... who knows, but this album is actually pretty good.
Kilbey is still on about nothing, but the melodies are interesting again. And sometimes his esoteric weirdness is slightly intelligible, like on "The Great Machine". And Willson-Piper and Koppes are back to their cool chemistry.
Whilst there's absolutely nothing on this album that the band hadn't done before, they are well and truly back to playing guitars and building ridiculously lush layers with effects and all sorts of stupid nerdy technical junk, with some stuff - take "Ricochet" for example - sounding like the missing link between Heyday
. Sure, it's redundant, but it sounds good if you're a Church fan.
The running length is good too - ten songs, 50 minutes - perfect. And along with the reinstated Koppes, drummer Tim Powles joins the band fulltime on this album (he did some songs here and there on Sometime Anywhere
and became official on Magician Among the Spirits
, then started contributing songs with this album).
So Hologram of Baal
is the start of the latest phase of The Church's sound - lots of guitar workouts, more noise than ever, and a definite purist slant in the band's restraint on jamming and indulgences. A relief for fans.
Some copies of the album came with an extra disc titled Bastard Universe
, an all-instrumental album. The riffs and playing are good, but it does become a bit tedious and rambling after a while, because the tracks are very repetitive and run anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes. Whilst it's a good sidenote for fans of the band's guitar work like myself, it's certainly not for everyone, even amongst the band's core fanbase.Rated:
by Reviewer: Austin
(blogging at Austin's Page