Review: Church For Sinners – “Of Prayers and Pestilence”

Artist: Church For Sinners
Label: Robot Monster
Track Listing
1. Misery
2. City Of The Dead
3. Kiss The Rose
4. Lady Killer
5. Black Hearts Rejoice
6. In The Graveyard
7. Headless
8. Paris After Dark
9. Seaside Suicide
10. When Tomorrow Ends
11. Southern Belle
12. Nightlife
13. Summer Broken
14. A Finger Hold In Death’s Embrace
15. The Hymn
16. Desperation Proof

When I was first introduced to the horror punks Church For Sinners was through their debut EP, Making Monsters, I instantly felt as though the band was dipping their toes into the great lakes potential!  While the EP was solid, it was also rather safe, and as a whole, somewhat middling.  I can’t say it lasted the test of time, but then again the seven tracks did serve their purpose, and had me place Church For Sinners on my list of bands with promise and worth checking up on.

Now, I wasn’t too sure what to expect from an eventual follow up to the EP, but I was hoping for the best.  What I found in their recent full length, Of Prayers And Pestilence, was the “best” I was hoping for and even surpassed my expectations and I say that with the utmost truth and flattery!  Now far from mediocre, Church For Sinners has completely been submerged in the spirit of ambition, and in the process, branched out for one of the truest, and most widely appealing horror-punk releases of the year.

For their newfound secret, look no further than at Of Prayers And Pestilence’s run time and overarching breadth of sound.  With sixteen tracks pushing an hour, the band finds plenty of time for solidifying their core and exploring and developing numerous tantalizing tangents without ever sacrificing their essence.

The first four tracks revisit their already established brand of melodic horror-punk found on their debut EP, but infused with a new, crisp layer of polished hooks.  Vocalist Andy sounds and reminds me a lot of 90’s era Davey Havok of AFI (had he enjoyed a happier upbringing).  Combined with a chorus of band-wide backing harmonies, each with their own slightly altered pitch, “City Of The Dead” for example.  An underlying air of carefully controlled chaos prevents such meticulous planning from dampening the band’s wildest moments.

After thinking you know what Church For Sinners is all about, the band throws in their first big twist.  “Black Hearts Rejoice”, which includes familiar riffs, but here Andy then takes on a new guise, lowering his tone and taking a noticeable take from Dan Adriano of Alkaline Trio.  His dictionary informed, image-rich description of dark and light concepts like “Bloodstains” with “Love” for example, achieve a captivating sense of morbid playfulness.  It soon becomes clear that Andy, is like a doppleganger with chameleon-like qualities.  Other directions take the form of a 50’s informed crooner in the song, “In The Graveyard”, a southern punk rock piece in, “Southern Belle”, and a blisteringly intense shout-fest bringing to mind names such as Leftover Crack in “Seaside Suicide”.

Combined, all this difference makes Church For Sinners’ dark messages of worldly vice feel fresh and new!  What some critics may cry as “ordinary” in this album, becomes less apparent as Of Prayers And Pestilence progresses, especially when punk rock gems like “Paris After Dark” pop up nine tracks in, there then is little room to yell afoul about this album.

When all is said and done, Church For Sinners exists free from the traditional confines of horror and successfully integrate a slew of other exciting inspirations.  Many people speak of horror as having a restricted vision, to them I say give Of Prayers And Pestilence a spin and try repeating that same sentiment.

– Justin Apathy



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