Review by Brexaul on January 28, 2024.
France’s Ecclesia are one of the most unique new bands out there. Now back with their second offering after almost 4 years, they have come to condemn and punish all the sinners that still haven’t bent the knee. I was very impressed by their debut, and I remember finishing my review with: “Overall a very enjoyable album and a very promising start to what I hope won’t shift to the gimmicky side of the spectrum”. I’m happy to inform you that not only Ecclesia didn’t lose an ounce of their wit and charisma, but they even upped the ante and offered a great successor to 2020’s De Ecclesiæ Universalis. Let’s dive in then!
I feel that the term doom metal is no longer appropriate to describe their music. Of course, there is a vast array of influences and Ecclesia are more than capable of incorporating those into their sound, but Ecclesia Militans sounds more direct, more “live” and dare I say more commercial. Ok, “commercial” might not be a term people are comfortable with, so cease your witch hunting for a moment, put down the pitchforks and hear me out. The strength of Ecclesia Militans is the accessibility and the infectious charm of the songs, this “live feeling” that everything slaps you in the face, and while this is entirely speculative, I guess the live performances that took place in these 4 years have something to do with this evolution. Much like Sorcerer, whose last album was great but leaned heavily into power metal, Ecclesia breaks the mold and lets their doom influences cleverly color the tracks, rather than define them. The influences are still pretty much the same (Cathedral, Tad Morose and Candlemass of "Chapter VI" era) just shuffled, torn to pieces, and reassembled into something new. Of course, the trademarks of the band, the fantastic witch hunting lyrics, the clever use of church organ, the brilliant vocals all shine throughout the album and there was never a moment I found myself going for the skip button.
The album sounds killer, everything is well balanced, polished and crisp and the performances are great as ever. Everything runs smooth and the addictive mix helps to immerse yourself deeper into their unique atmosphere and distinct songwriting. There are a lot of top-shelf moments in here, the fantastic opener 'If She Floats' with the addictive main riff, the epic doom highlight 'Antecclesia' or the ambitious 'Havester Of Sinful Souls', Eclessia’s offering has something for everyone. It goes without saying I’d recommend the album to every one that enjoyed their debut, but hopefully this will bring a fresh batch of sinners to this unholy inquisition.
All in all, Ecclesia did a tremendous job with their sophomore album and propel themselves in the top spots of “new bands to follow and expect great things down the road” (yeah, long title on that list). Their gimmick works, not because I like gimmicks, but because their music is so inspired and recognizable, that the gimmick ultimately adds to the experience, instead of having a band that relies on it to define them. A great way to start 2024.
Rating: 9.2 out of 10634