Blood & Ink Records, 2016
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/19/2017
Though these Indianapolis youngsters call themselves Church Tongue, it's unlikely you'll get any praise for playing this at Sunday mass. In fact, you'll probably be asked to never come back. Now, this isn't because the band is offensive. On the contrary; the songs are well thought out and quite literate. However, the vocal work from Michael Sugars is anything but sweet, instead resembling the result of removing one's vocal chords, inserting them into a blender with shards of broken glass, then reattaching them to the body.
Yep, this is modern metalcore: abrasive, unrelenting, dark and made up of sounds that blur apprehension and aggression, formed from critical-thinking minds. Surprisingly, the band cites My Chemical Romance as a huge influence. Though Church Tongue is far more shattering in their delivery, they evoke a similar ominousness.
Leadoff song “Ghost World” quickly sets the pace with pounding drums and jagged guitars – even with a melodic mini solo thrown in – before the throaty vocals that characterize the genre. “Medicine Breath,” featuring Davey Muise from Vanna, follows with a more frenzied hardcore feel and swirling guitar work, which flows well into the thrashy, manic noise of “Acid Jesus.”
While to the casual listener, the album might appear to be very similar from track to track, for the trained ear, standouts like the post-punk influence of “Dark Days” (which features Matt Vacar from Exiting The Fall) are proof of the band's diversity. Similarly, the heartfelt introspection and gentle singing of “7:20” offers a nice reprieve from the intensity for anyone's ears.
For the serious metal fans, tracks like the brutal “Eyecon” and the pummeling “Skull Kid” should more than scratch that itch, while deeper cuts like the title track “Heart Failure” bridge the gap well between metalcore and punk.Church Tongue was formally known for their guitarist setting himself on fire during live shows, but those theatrics should hopefully take a back seat to the crushing sounds found here. Fans of Norma Jean, Botch, or The Judas Factor need to pull a chair up and stay for a while.