Ecclesia – De Ecclesiæ Universalis

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Artist: Ecclesia

Album: De Ecclesiæ Universalis

Label: Aural Music

Release Date: 13/11/2020

Country: France

Let’s start the day with some epic doom/heavy metal in the form of Ecclesia and their upcoming full-length album De Ecclesiæ Universalis, which drops this Friday on Aural Music, in partnership with Dewar PR.

Ecclesia hail from France and play a blend of epic doom and heavy metal. They formed back in 2016 and this is their debut full-length release, following their EP Witchfinding Metal of Doom, released in 2017. The band is Julius Accusator (guitars, lead), The Witchfinder General (guitars, rhythm), Frater Ignis Sacer (bass), Pater Hexenhammer (drums), Pater Walkelinus (organ) and Frater Arnhwald (vocals).

If you haven’t guessed it yet, the bands themes are The Inquisition and the hunting and smiting of heretics and witches. They incorporate plenty of gnostic and choir-based elements to emphasize this theme and add dramatic effect to their music. This becomes immediately evident with the intro track Excommunicamus, which happens to contain these elements and is an instrumental track, making for a fantastic start to the album and immediately setting the scene for the band’s theme to unfold.

The following song Vatican III immediately dives headfirst into the band’s signature sound, with classic heavy metal guitar, paired with epic organ work. Then the vocals kick in and things get taken up a notch, Arnhwald’s take on doom vocals is reminiscent of Robert Lowe era Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus, but with more of a high pitched heavy metal tinge it to, hitting more soaring peaks, as well as incorporating gruffer clean vocals and harsh extreme metal vocals. The instrumentals are a good blend of old school epic doom and heavy metal, featuring slower and heavier parts and soaring guitar work, including a fantastic solo. The organ work adds plenty of character and depth to the song too.

I’m not going to cover the entire album, but rather focus on my highlights. So that takes us to track 4 Montségur, which luckily for all of you happens to be the single that the band has released for your listening pleasure prior to the album’s Friday release. The song discusses Montségur, which was the site where the Cathars took refuge in one of their fortresses, which became besieged by the Catholic Church due to them deeming the Cathars to be heretics. Following a siege by 10,000 troops in 1244, the Cathars surrendered and 244 of them were burned in a mass bonfire. The song takes on an even more epic tone to it when you realise the subject matter that it covers. The track takes its time to build up atmosphere and energy, with the vocals only kicking in around the 1:20 or so mark. The guitar and organ work in tandem. Walkelinus and his organ work is definitely one of the major drawcards for the release in my opinion, it really helps the band to stand out and contributes to their epic overall sound. Arnhwald manages to hit some truly epic notes on this track, his voice has a very impressive range to it. The range also allows him to sound truly menacing at times, when he gets a little gruffer with his voice. The track has a great blend of heavier, darker segments, some of which are paired with ominous spoken word Latin segments, which I’m going to assume is from a priest or member of the church.

Track 6 Antichristus is also worth discussing, the track has a menacing doomy tone to it from its opening. It’s a bit slower than the previous songs and features a tonne of atmosphere from start to finish, The heavier, more downtuned guitar work really pairs well with the organ on this one. We get some harsher vocals on this one, which call for the heretic to “REPENT! CONFESS!”. We also get an audio clip here which I may be wrong, but I think may be from the 1968 film Withfinder General. The song takes a whole different turn around the 4 minute mark, where the guitar and organ take on a rhythm that very much resembles a classical composition, Once this ends we launch straight back into a doomy, heavy metal section with a much higher energy level than the first part of the track and some more harsh vocals.

I’ll also give an honourable mention to track 7 Deus Vult just for being a fun as all hell battle anthem. Featuring calls to battle and layered group vocals chanting “DEUS VULT”, a term that many metalheads and history nerds (such as myself) will enjoy.

Track 9 Burn the Witches is another fun track, its high energy and aggressive, featuring gruffer clean vocals and harsh vocals. The organ really lets rip on this one and we get some real shredding on the guitar.

Overall this is a solid doom/heavy metal offering, we get a great mix of influences here, ranging from Candlemass and Solitude Aeternus to King Diamond (mostly in regards to the theme reminding me a lot of his album The Eye, as well as the audio clips used). We get some truly memorable vocal segments, some absolutely killer organ and some fantastic guitar work here. As a whole, the release has a fantastic energy and atmosphere, which really compliments their dark lyrical theme. If this is the band’s first album, then I’m sure that they have a bright future ahead of them.

Listen to the pre-released track and place your pre-order below:

Bandcamp:

https://ecclesia-official.bandcamp.com/

Listen to the full-album at Metal Devastation Radio below:

https://metaldevastationradio.com/thebeast/blog/10790/



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