Few bands enter their fifth decade of making music with all the fierce creative energy of their early years. Few bands are like The Church. The Church are an Australian rock band formed in Sydney in 1980. Initially associated with new wave, neo-psychedelia, and indie rock, their music later came to feature slower tempos and surreal soundscapes reminiscent of dream pop and post-rock. After a couple of quieter years, The Australian psych-guitar masters are back with their upcoming 26th studio album, entitled The Hypnogogue.
It doesn’t take long for the atmosphere to build thanks to the incredibly deep instrumentals of the opening track Ascendance due to the addition of a third guitarist, Ashley Naylor. Despite the band becoming a 5-piece for the first time in their career, it hasn’t done anything but adds more depth to their sound. Similar tones can be found across the entirety of the record with the likes of C’est La Vie and Think You Know, with the three tracks sounding like a modern take on 70’s Psychedelic Rock thanks to the elements of modern Indie-Rock that the band helped shape in their formative years.
Flickering Lights is one of the album’s many stand-out moments thanks to the much darker, dystopian feeling that manages to flood the listener’s ears due to some truly great songwriting and composition with so much depth and emotion behind each and every note. The album’s title track The Hypnogogue is a great example of the band’s utterly amazing musicianship, blending 70’s Prog-Rock with Post-Punk to create an indescribable soundscape to lose yourself within. Another of the tracks that truly stood out to me was Thorn, which somehow manages to sound like the 70’s and 80’s Space-Rock scene while bringing in sections of instrumentals that sounds like the early British electronic music scene. From Aerodrome onwards, I found my attention slowly wandering, as the likes of The Coming Days, Succulent and Antarctica sounded almost identical sonically to everything that came before them.
The Hypnogogue is another incredibly solid release from a band with more history than most in the industry at this point, fully throwing themselves into their 26th album to create a prog-rock masterclass in musicianship but miss one of the biggest parts of what Prog-Rock is meant to be, progressive. Despite the obvious skill and creativity of the band, the album feels scared to ever step away from a very in-the-box sound, and this does hold it back. For fans of the classic ’70s/80’s Space-Prog, you cannot go wrong with this release, but it may not be as interesting for the younger generations into more modern Prog-Rock acts. Regardless, The Church has shown how they’ve managed to make their career span for 43 years.