Fister and CHRCH Capture the Spirit of American Doom in 2017

Stream this essential new split from two of the best underground doom bands out there, who channel darkness in different ways.

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Nov 14 2017, 7:48pm

Chrch / Photo courtesy of the artist

We've covered both of these artists previously on Noisey, so one would hope you're not coming into this post completely blind—but if you are, that's okay! You're in for a treat either way. In my opinion, Chrch and Fister are both criminally underrated, even just in the context of the American doom scene; they're quite different, sonically speaking, but share a similar DIY doom sensibility. They shun pomp, bombast, and theatrics in favor of just rolling up their sleeves and diving in; they write brilliant epics without making a fuss over it, and have consistently released impressive, vital work. Simply put, they're great, and they've just joined forces to release a killer new split.

On a personal note, the first time I saw Fister, I was on tour in Saint Louis, and their wall of amplifiers and gargantuan riffs tore the room to shreds. When I first encountered Chrch, they were opening for YOB in Sacramento, and I can still remember how far my jaw dropped once they launched into their first song. It's fitting that they're both now immortalized together in wax—if there's any justice in the world, in a few years, we'll be talking about this new release the way we talk about the Graves at Sea/Asunder split (i.e. with reverence and admiration). If the world lasts long enough for any of us to have grandchildren, when they for some arcane reason decide to ask us what doom sounded like in 2017, just hand them this.

CHRCH kicks off the collab with "Temples," which begins with a plaintive, understated intro before roaring into life. Vocalist Eva has a feral, strained quality to her voice that cuts through the fuzz like a hot knife; it's even scarier when she goes quiet, cranks the reverb, and allows herself to be swept away on the waves of distorted guitar harmonies that indulge Chrch's more melodic, psych rock-tinged ambitions. It's heavy—always heavy—but Chrch always leaves room for some light to shine in, and "Temples" is full of it.

Fister / Photo courtesy of the artist

The city of St. Louis has a complicated reputation outside of its borders, but at least within the context of its underground metal scene, a few simple truths dominate. Chief among them: that Fister fucking rules. This acidic sludge trio have been at it since 2009, keeping their tongues firmly in cheek even as they claw out corrosive, lumbering dirges from their instruments and sling slogans like, "If it's too slow, you're too young," which, in fairness, feels truer and truer the older I get.

Their contribution here, "The Ditch," takes the form of a 20-minute ride down to hell while showing off the band's dynamic range; sure, there's tons of sludge, doom, black, and death metal afoot, but a prolonged, moody gothic passage peeks through near the song's end, and the faintest metallic hardcore influence sneaks under the surface (particularly in vocalist Kenny Snarzyk's howls, which at times sound like like a zonked-out Cursed). Oh, and that paranoid, fluttering solo around the 7-minute mark is fucking ace.

The split is due out November 17 on limited edition vinyl via Crown and Throne Ltd and Battleground Records. Listen to both tracks below, then get out there and support some of our best homegrown doom.

Kim Kelly is, as usual, doomed on Twitter.