Reviewed: November 2020
Released: 2020, Aural Music
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
French sextet Ecclesia are here with their debut full-length, De Ecclesiæ Universalis, a fervently fun slab full of heretics, witches and the ever-unexpected Inquisition hunting them down.
The band is most often described as doom metal, and while that certainly is a substantial part of their sound, it also doesn’t do justice to the thoroughly engrossing and well-crafted style they have. In truth, De Ecclesiæ Universalis provides a solid mixture of doom, traditional and even power metal elements. Exactly which heading it falls under at any given time is debatable but also largely irrelevant, because the important point is it’s always so damned enjoyable.
Listening to it, I regularly found myself thinking of Powerwolf, a favourite band of mine. Ecclesia have their own sound, but share both the same wonderfully over-the-top, religiously-inspired theatricality, and the musical chops to pull it all off. The riffs are memorable and played with a nice crunchy tone, the vocals rise up into epic cries at just the right times, and every track stamps out its own identity while sticking to the consistent theme.
“Vatican III” opens with delicious fretwork and catchy organ music, and never lets up as it gallops forward on its crusade, with some throaty vocals that would do Grave Digger’s Chris Boltendahl proud. “Montségur” strides out on a pilgrimage, while “Behold the Heretic Burning” strides and stomps with utter confidence into its gang chants of “BURN!”. “God’s Trial” delivers an irresistible doom atmosphere, the stage set perfectly with Vincent Price lines. Tracks like “Deus Vult” and the exquisite cover of Venom’s “Burn the Witches” add some faster-paced, thrashy spice when needed.
De Ecclesiæ Universalis is just a crazy good time, and a stunning debut album. It provides a masterfully orchestrated heavy metal mass full of crusades, witch trials and burning heretics.