Atomic Church (TMC)
by Brian Varney
This disappointed me the first time. I’d liked the metal sound Roachpowder got on their first album, Viejo Diablo, so I was a bit let down by the more generic “stoner-rock” sound of Atomic Church’s first track, “House of the Wicked.” However, the farther I got into the album, the more I realized that the change was more an assimilation than an abrupt switch. The metal brawn of Viejo Diablo has not been abandoned at all – rather, it’s been drugged up a bit. The sound of Atomic Church is that of the chunks scraped from the sides of a centrifuge containing melted copies of Monster Magnet’s Spine of God and Entombed’s To Ride, Shoot Straight, and Speak the Truth.
Those completely in love with Viejo Diablo will probably not like the druggy feeling of Atomic Church. While I like the first album, its brutality is so singular that I often have trouble playing the whole thing. On the other hand, I have no problem playing all of Atomic Church. With this record, Roachpowder is like a tough, unschooled streetfighter who’s trained hard and become a good boxer. Through time and training, he’s figured out that he doesn’t have to punch you square in the face as hard as possible every time. He now has a variety of punches and moves, and he knows when not to hit. It may lack the raw power of his streetfights, but he’ll probably win more fights this way.
Before I get completely lost in simile, let us return to the music. One of the things I really liked about the first record was Francisco Rencoret’s voice, so I was very pleased to hear it featured prominently in Atomic Church’s mix. Other than that, there’s not much similar between the albums. You can tell it’s the same band, but you certainly couldn’t accuse them of staying on the same small piece of land. All of the elements are the same, but what they do with those elements is completely different.
And this is good, obviously. In an ever-expanding sea of same-sounding bands, I welcome one that isn’t afraid to evolve or take chances. I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t be able to match their first album. Wisely, they didn’t even try. Recommended to all, especially Monster Magnet fans unhappy with the last couple of records.
(PO Box 629 Port Washington, NY 11050)