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Ecclesia – De Ecclesiæ Universalis Award winner

Ecclesia
De Ecclesiæ Universalis
by Gary Hernandez at 27 November 2020, 12:23 PM

ECCLESIA is a French Doom Metal band with Power/Heavy Metal overtones. Where in France? I don’t know, just France. All of it. They formed in 2016 as a trio and released the maybe tongue-in-cheek titled EP, “Witchfinding Metal Of Doom,” in 2017. Over the following years they expanded to six members and released their debut full-length album, “De Ecclesiæ Universalis” (trans: “The Universal Church”) on Friday 13, November 2020.

A quick look at band photos and their promo video compelled me to see if Gene Simmons underwrote the album. He didn’t. Despite the band’s propensity for kitsch — they dress like the Spanish Inquisition, they go by pseudonyms, they overuse spoken word recordings, and they have more members than a Lynyrd Skynyrd reunion — the album is f*cking amazing. And if you weren’t expecting that, just remember . . . nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! (please search “nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.”)

“De Ecclesiæ Universalis” features the entirety of their three-track 2017 EP, rerecorded, refined, and reborn, and adds five additional music tracks, including a cover of VENOM’s “Burn The Witch,” plus an intro and outro. Lyrically, the album focuses on the 12th century or Medieval Inquisition, which started in France and eventually concluded in the mid-15th century. Although that’s a good three hundred years of some bleak ass history, by track eight the band has pretty much said everything that needs to be said about it — at least in my opinion. The music, however, is just too tight to let lyrical ennui drag the album down.

Highlights are the pairing of lead and rhythm guitar performances, Julius Accusator and The Witchfinder General respectively, and the clean soaring vocals of Frater Arnhwald. The rhythm section is more than solid and though the organist isn’t overly prominent, it does add some nice, layered ambiance. Best tracks are “Vatican III,” “Montségur,” “Behold The Heretic Burning,” “Deus Vult,” “God’s Trial,” and “Burn The Witches.” If you’re counting tracks, that’s almost the entire album. It wouldn’t take much to convince me to add the tracks I skipped over. As far as regrets, there are none, but I do wish they would have held back on some of the spoken word inserts.

The fact that ECCLESIA seems exceedingly wrapped up in one theme is worrisome, but I’ll take this album as it is and hope for a course correction later. “De Ecclesiæ Universalis” will be sitting in my high rotation stack for the rest of the year and will likely rank on several top of 2020 lists. Highly recommended. Great stuff here.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1.   Excommunicamus
2.   Vatican III
3.   Ecclesia Sathani
4.   Montségur
5.   Behold the Heretic Burning
6.   Antichristus
7.   Deus Vult
8.   God’s Trial
9.   Burn the Witch (Venom Cover)
10  Ite Missa Est
Lineup:
Julius Accusator – Guitars (lead)
The Witchfinder General – Guitars (rhythm)
Frater Ignis Sacer – Bass
Pater Hexenhammer – Drums
Pater Walkelinus – Organ
Frater Arnhwald – Vocals
Record Label: Aural Music
     


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