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The Church

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Founding Moderator
4 stars [Twelfth in a series] "Hologram of Baal" set a new standard for The Church and, for the second time (but not the last), I was sure they couldn't top themselves. And again I was wrong. "After Everything Now This" contains more of the extreme textured atmospheres featured on "Hologram" - which have now become a "signature" sound for them - while adding new dimensions of sound and texture to their songwriting. / "Numbers" has another glorious Kilbey lyric, supported by a comparatively "laid back" arrangement of great guitar figures, solid bass and drums, and increasingly present atmosphere. "After Everything" opens with a simple textured acoustic guitar and bass line, moving into a beautiful, quiet arrangement with a neat bridge figure on guitar and bass. "The Awful Ache" is another beautiful Kilbey ballad, underpinned by a "space-"filled atmosphere of echo-guitars and keyboards, moving into a three-quarter-time break, and returning to the original arrangement. "Song For the Asking" is a uniquely Church composition, with another nice Kilbey song-poem supported by a deceptively simple arrangement of textured guitar, tambourine, piano and synth. "Chromium," another Church original, is a sound-filled arrangement of crazily textured instruments and vocals, and a neat rhyming lyric. "Radiance" - my favorite track, and one the band's best ever - is one of Kilbey's most poignant song-poems, and another fabulous original Church arrangement with a great bass line, nicely textured guitars, subtle keyboard, and the now-"trademark" Church atmosphere. A true gem. "Reprieve" - with another great Kilbey lyric - has one of the band's most amazing arrangements, including a truly "psychedelic" chord progression, plus great textured tremolo guitar, and a crazy guitar solo toward the end. "Night Friends" is another quasi-paranoid Floydian composition, this time centered around piano, "floating" synth, cabasa, simple drums, and a defining guitar figure. "Seen It Coming" is a nice, almost retro-60s light rocker, with a bird-like guitar figure, a nice keyboard figure, and a Byrd-like chorus and break. "Invisible" is an extended, ultra-hypnotic arrangement including a "scratch" guitar, textured keyboards, sound effects, and yet another neat Kilbey song-poem. / Although slightly "lighter" in texture overall than "Hologram", "After Everything Now This" shows that the band is comfortably maintaining, if not adding to, its unique amalgam of prog-rock sensibilities, keeping them among the most creative, interesting and compelling prog-rock bands currently writing and performing.
Report this review (#25)
Posted Sunday, February 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This 2001 album is the first proper listen I've accorded the Church and I'm afraid it was not a religious experience (do forgive the obvious joke ... but somebody had to do it!). After Everything Now This is not a bad album, but of the 56 plus minutes that this album runs for, I felt I was listening to truly creative rock for less than five minutes (some passages in Song For The Asking, Reprieve and Night Friends come to mind). In general what I heard was more akin to the melodic, semi-psychedelic Britpop bands of the 90s and this decade.

I'll defy anyone to show me moments in Numbers, Chromium, After Everything, Seen It Coming and even the opening portions of Song For The Asking that aren't reminiscent of Suede, Blur, Keane, Snow Patrol and a dozen other bands of that ilk (there are even shades of U2 and Coldplay, fer chrissake!). My other half is a huge fan of most of those bands, and she took to this record more readily than I did, while concurring that The Church fitted more naturally alongside "her" music, rather than occupying the slot between Caravan and Circus in my progressive rock section.

Having said all that, I really quite liked this album. The Church have a melodic gift and despite not being that innovative, are rarely boring. My favourite songs include The Awful Ache (with violin and viola contributions by one Jane Seymour) and Radiance, both of which make the most of layered synths and strings to build a powerful atmosphere, Reprive, a strange melange of influences with the Lou Reed nod being the most prominent, and the spacey Night Friends, which is probably the most creative tune of all here. Lyrically too, the band is far from weak, so I really can't claim that this record was a total waste of time. In fact, if this was a general music site, I would have given After Everything Now This a solid three stars.

Not having heard the rest of The Church's vast catalogue, I'm not prepared to comment on just how I would categorise this band, but I think I can safely say that fans of classic symphonic rock aren't exactly going to be tickled pink by this lot. ... 20% on the MPV scale

Report this review (#45340)
Posted Saturday, September 3, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars "Hologram of Baal" meant a change in direction for the music of this band. For anyone who has listened to the three previous albums and also this last one, the change is obvious, the production seems to be darker and the maturity has increased notably. "After everything now this" is more of this new tendency, although handled in a subtly different way. The previous album was a kind of greeting to this new Church sound. In this one they have said, 'Ok, we have made our new intentions clear. Now let's get to the point'. And this is exactly what they've done. I have to advise people who have listened to earlier works from The Church that, at the beginning, this album is not an easy listening. Maybe even they made it in purpose, as a kind of sarcastic joke. However, the result of further listenings is really worth it.

The strange thing here is that most of the songs of this albums could be considered as ballads, something that wasn't too obvious in other albums. It is true that The Church has never been what you may call a 'fast' band, but in this album you can find the most slow, calm and intense songs that they have probably ever made. You can listen to songs like "Chromium" or "Radiance" and take account of this. They also have an excellent intro song, "Numbers", in this album. That is something good, because since "Aura" they had not made an intro song that really convinced me (maybe "Anaesthesia", but not quite).

So, I think that this album is a quite entertaining and enjoyable set of progressive songs and is a must for every single fan of the band.

Report this review (#52574)
Posted Friday, October 21, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the top of their game and under alot of pressure from me to come up with something as compelling as "Hologram of Baal", this release finds The Church not only equalling, but surpassing what they did on "Baal". The textures and moods set in this set are so compelling as to transport the listener to a plane the band has clearly laid out for the open-eared listener to climb to. And what a lofty and lovely view from where The Church put me with "AENT".

Lyrically, Steven Kilbey touches on themes of religion and spirituallity more than once, and with huge success. "Awful Ache", "Radiance" and "Invisible" all touch on themes of religion and spirituality, and true to Kilbeyan form, do not detract from, but rather enhance the "Christian ideal" to a more spiritual plane and out of the realm of dogma. "She's crying for loss, like the man on the cross.." ("Awful Ache") and the topic of virginal visions ("Radiance") are played out in intriguing styles that are nothing short of lyrical ballads of the highest magnitude. "Invisible" closes out the set with a repetitve "squeak-squeak" of fingers on guitar strings that could irritate some, but with time seem more like the most ingenious of simple musical performing stunts to appealing sonic effect in the song's context. The lyric in this song seems plaintive and mournful as Kilbey invokes a sense of frustration at trying to touch something tangible yet immaterial in the physical world. In a sense, this theme sums up the general underlying theme of the entire CD: the acceptance on faith of what we believe in that is not of this world, regardless of religious or other spiritual affiliation.

One word bears mentioning here. In no way shape or form is this "your kid's Coldplay". If anything, The Church influence but are seldom imitated. The breadth and depth of the band and their experiences in the music realm have outlasted the vast majority of bands that were their contemporaries in the 80's. Few bands have survived long enough with the same core of musicians to allow the kind of metamorphosis The Church have undergone to get to where they are today. They actually defy categorization. I've never really thought of them as "progressive" in the contemporary definition, nor are they "pop" in a Radiohead (who openly acknowledge The Church as heavy influences) sense. The Church are clearly in a realm of their own creation, and it's one they will continue to build on while they endure.

Report this review (#130721)
Posted Sunday, July 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Sixteenth album from "The Church", this one is not to be categorized into their top ones, I'm afraid.

There is nothing too wrong here, but the melancholic music, passionless and uniform vocals, same sort of music through this almost an hour of music are ingredients which I can't find too exciting.

There is even one track recorded live. I have always wonder why the band who has been active for about twenty years by the release of "After Everything Now This" never recorded a live album. Still, they are touring. But when I see the type of events they organize (dinner + show at around 100 AUD $ for a seat) I wonder what are going through their minds. Some sort of "Night Of The Proms" affair maybe; for rich and famous?

To cut a long story short, I prefer to listen to this album (and some other ones from "The Church",) when I don't need to concentrate on their music (while reading, driving?). It is really too much of the same even if their new wave link is again very much present here ("The Cure" and the inevitable Bunnymen).

There are some nice vocal harmonies ("Chromium") but there are hardly any great song featured on this work nor delectable instrumental sections. A long, dark, languishing and soft implication. To listen to one ("Reprieve" is one of my faves) or two pieces is OK, but to have the whole bunch of tracks in a row is quite an exercise.

IMHHO, the best track from this offering is the longer "Night Friends": the melody is catchier and there is somewhat more feeling in here. The mood remains on the soft side (nice piano and ambient passages). The proggiest song of this whole for sure. Some "Lou Reed" tonality for "Seen It Coming" is not too bad either.

This album is average. Five out of ten. I could have rounded up to three stars, would the closing track be some more attractive which is not the case, unfortunately.

Report this review (#245104)
Posted Sunday, October 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
3 stars Most THE CHURCH fans rate this one highly. It took 2 years to make and was recorded on 3 different continents.There is a real flow to this one as we get that same laid back, relaxing and dreamy sound throughout. And that's part of the problem for me as there is very little in the way of dynamics or contrasts. It does make for a long listen if your not digging the music.There is some guest violin / viola on here which suits that melancholic mood well.The biggest positive for me is the album cover which reminds me of where I live. It's tough to go track by track because i'll be repeating myself constantly.

Highlights include the start of "After Everything" which sounds amazing, very dreamy, but then the vocals come in and change that mood. Still this is a top three track for me. Some great lyrics on this one too. "Chronium" is my favourite because it is fuller and more urgent sounding.They come to life on this one. "Radiance" is a beautiful track. "Reprieve" has some rare energy around 2 minutes but it's brief. I like the guitar before 5 minutes. A top three. The longest track "Invisible" has these mono-toned vocals and an electronic vibe. Not a fan.

I'll stick with "Starfish" and "Priest = Aura" for my THE CHURCH fix.

Report this review (#458464)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Church greeted the new millennium with a sound that had largely abandoned the jangle pop of their early era but retained their neo-psychedelic sensibilities, shifting it to a basis rooted in more current indie rock/alternative rock styles of the era. Invisible, the epic album closer, is the sort of thing you get once the Church have listened to Spiritualized for long enough, for instance, and in general the album does a fine job of presenting a sound that's continually being updated whilst at the same time remaining true to a core aesthetic principle. Perhaps not as compelling as Magician Among the Spirits, but few items in their discography are.
Report this review (#3030069)
Posted Friday, March 15, 2024 | Review Permalink

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