Band: Churchhouse Creepers
Album: From Party to Apocalypse (2015)
Genre: Stoner rock
Where to buy: Bandcamp
A better title you can’t imagine for an album like this. This is the soundtrack for your next house party, practically guaranteed to get people in the mood for fun. The songs are short, uplifting, and frenetic. The lyrics are saturated with the kind of carefree abandon and high energy that captures the thoughtless joy of having fun with your friends in the middle of the night, secure in the knowledge that you have no upcoming responsibilities. These tunes are anthemic, and in little more than a half hour Churchhouse Creepers will have your head banging, your body sweating, and your voice tired of singing along.
For all the postured carelessness of the no-tomorrow, party-all-night image, From Party to Apocalypse features a lot of intention and craft. The power trio is formed by Bjarni Jóhannes Ólafsson (guitar, lead vocals), Sigurgeir Lúðvíksson (bass, backup vocals), and Dagur Atlason (drums, backup vocals), and the album’s production lets each of them shine. Ólafsson roars, belts, and screams his vocals when necessary, often through a Vox or with a tinge of distortion to give them a rough edge that works well with the songs and their atmospheres. His guitar is fast and fun, using plenty of quick riffs and little grace notes to add color to otherwise simplistic progressions. Listen to the 32nd-note trill embedded in the intro riff on “Lizard Boy” for a textbook example. On bass, Lúðvíksson fills out the riffs nicely with just the right amount of gain to make you think the guitar is being doubled. And Atlason’s drumming is right on point: hard hitting and yet loose, perfect for groovy songs like these. In fact, the grooviness of the ensemble may be their strongest trait. They play like a band that’s been together 20 years, not two or three. They anticipate each other’s playing and match tone with each other with a fluidity that comes only with intention. It’s a refreshing counterpoint to the ironic jam-style of many stoner rock bands.
The songwriting is another great element on this album. Some of the hooks are so catchy they’ll play in your head all day after hearing them. “No Monday,” a song about living eternally in the weekend, is a classic head-banging rabble-rouser. “What Mama Don’t Know” shifts tempo suddenly between the verse and chorus a few times, which adds a fun bit of unexpected metrical texture; another metrical shift appears on “Just the Tip,” perhaps a bit less seamlessly, though the song has one of the better build-ups on the album, right after the proggy bridge. “Drunk Something,” meanwhile, is a combination of a quick Joe Satriani riff with a Led Zeppelin sentiment. Ólafsson performs some fun solos on his lead guitar, which bring the musical energy up another notch without overstaying their welcome. More often than not, the solos aren’t especially complicated, but they fit the record’s mood, and showoffy musicianship is antithetical to this album anyway. Instead of wowing with virtuosity, Churchhouse Creepers provides a truly infectious spirit for the partying audience.