When Cleveland, Ohio trio Megachurch formed out of the remnants of two other local bands they made two very important decisions: That they should comprise of one drummer and two bassists, and that instead of vocals they would use samples of preachers they found on the internet. Enforcing limitations on yourself has long been an inspiration to musicians in rock everyone from Lightning Bolt to Peter Gabriel have created original, startling music as a result. The decision to set their music to found samples has been particularly trying for Megachurch, meaning long hours spent sifting through hours of, often unpleasant, sermonising online, searching for just the right quote to fit their musical ideas.
If this all sounds rather cerebral and contrived, it doesn’t come across like that on record. Megachurch make a gloriously huge and exciting racket. “Judgment Day” is similar in spirit to the music Jello Biafra and Al Jourgensen put out together as Lard back in the 90’s. It was a pounding industrial punk, often poking fun at evangelical Christians and other hypocritical self appointed moralists. Well, you know what Al and Jello are like.
Actually Megachurch‘s complex, rhythmic attack has more current antecedents in the math metal of Battles and the berserk jazz hard-core of the aforementioned Lightning Bolt. It’s pretty incredible the sophistication of the noise these guys make. Dan Price on drums in particular is a phenomenal player. Powerful and precise, but so loose that it’s sounds like the drum kit has come to life and is rattling out of the speakers, intent on running you down!
My only qualm is that such is the conviction and skill of the playing when married to the strident words of the hellfire preachers, that sometimes it DOES feel like I’m being asked to repent and reject my atheist beliefs. Stripped of all contextual trappings this would be a very troubling album! ‘The Gay Agenda’, where a preacher threatens to kill homosexuals, is a particularly tough listen, but as this makes up three of the bonus tracks from a previous EP, perhaps Megachurch are learning to be more canny with their samples.
Ironically, the original US release of “Judgment Day” was paid for by the online pledging site Kickstarter. The band having asked for followers to send money, so they may continue their good works. Just like some dodgy televangelist. They won’t save your soul, but they will make your day. Enjoy responsibly.