Special Features: Limited edition. 180 gram blue vinyl. Gatefold cover.
- To Protect and to Serve
- Field of Hours
- Blind Lightning
- Neatz Brigade
- A World Apart
- Climate of Despair
- A Touch of Everything
- Living Rain
Release Date: October 2014
Label: Back on Black
While I admire Wino and his work with Saint Vitus, a pioneer indeed, I am glad he left sometime in the 90s. Cause the result is this, and many other amazing bands he spawned after, but this being the groovier of all, the king of groove.
The album begins with a heavy and aggressive riff, accompanied with some melodical vocals, and this pretty much sums up most of the songs. The starter, "To Protect and to Serve" stands out, and "Field of Hours" keeps on that same pace. Then, there is a more modern and uptempo track, "Streamlined", until the band returns to its known, heavy and dark sound; "Neatz Brigade" and "Skybone" are favourites.
The tracks are quite catchy, and instrumentally they are more complex than Wino's previous work. I'm not gonna lie, I found quite a few boring moments in there, between the 13 tracks, but there is also a reason I believe this is an exceptional album.
If "The Church Within" was destined to be a "Lunar Womb #2", it would be regarded as a lighter addition to the bands' short-lived discography. But that is half the picture; Wino experiments and broadens his trademark doom sound to a rockier direction, and the diversity pays out. In "A World Apart" he even goes punk, screaming "*** this world!". Or, listen to "Touch of Everything" for a rock n' roll vibe. Then, there's "Streetside", an old track, re-recorded and mastered (the solo is better than ever), to which I still get sporadic eargasms. My favourite track.
It's those moments he steps out of the box of his previous work that really stand out and make this album a classic. Less melancholy, more intensity. But Wino's rasp vocals are still there, combined with some amazing guitar work. The result is a more heavy metal, yet trully solid record.
The only thing I find annoying about "The Church Within", as a whole, is that the simplicity of the songs can make the album less enjoyable after many listenings. That's why this is no more than a 4-4.5 for me. I still regard it very highly though, cause it contains some really heavy and well executed metal, carrying Wino's signature as a plus. Anyone who is into his work shouldn't be disappointed. - Cactupuss (Sputnik September 14, 2014)