Hella: Church Gone Wild/Chirpin Hard

Hella - Church Gone Wild/Chirpin HardHella has always been one of those bands to which I can’t completely commit. I’ve had the opportunity to see them locally for free numerous times, but they still end up losing out to “The Shield” or a Yankees game. And while any fan of the avant garde should hold 2002’s Hold Your Horse Is in high esteem, the band’s forays into electronic-dominated territory have only homogenize and further obscured their once unique sound.

Their latest release, which consists of one disc per Hellan, continues their Nintendo soundtrack recreation project, but also manages to keep things sonically diverse and, at times, challenging. Fretmaster Spencer Seim waits until the fourth cut before delving into familiar territory for a song or two, but mainly sticks to a hodgepodge of keyboards and orchestra hits. However, the few times that Chirpin Hard approaches mild accessibility stand in stark contrast to the entirety of Zach Hill’s Church Gone Wild.

Intended to be played as one piece clocking in at nearly an hour in length, Church Gone Wild is cohesive in that it’s never less than a chaotic bombast of drums, vocal shrieks, electronic blips, and distorted bass riffs. Nary a break awaits the unsuspecting listener who may or may not search fruitlessly for something, anything to grasp on to. Ultimately, I’m left scratching my head as to what Hill, an outstanding musician, was looking to accomplish with his “side,” but not any more so than I am with this release as a whole. This wouldn’t be a good first taste of Hella to those uninitiated, and ultimately stands as a rather dry addition to their already lopsided catalog that’s not nearly worth the time required to put into it.

Tom Youth
Hella (Suicide Squeeze)