Density is a ratio of a substance’s mass and volume — a way of equating the concentration of matter within a space. It is as much a measure of fullness as it is emptiness. This concept translates well to hearing music: density can be satisfying when the wall of sound leaves gaps for the group dynamics.
Within the six-songs of Come Along to the Chocolate Church, Shrouded Amps concentrate their sonic matter while leaving space for three-piece dynamics. An angular twelve-string guitar anchors many songs. It’s heavy in the mix. “Flags” features a simple modal line, effective with its repetition and attentive harmonics. In “Lost Creatures Land,” the final track, a pulsating bass line has a haunting hold on the song. The effect is a lasting one: repeat listens find the bass a guiding force.
Together, these instruments create a dense wall of sound, akin to the shoegaze of an upbeat Slowdive. Floating beneath this barrier are intricate tom rolls and stuttering snare fills; definite proof that Shrouded Amps are more than just a guitar band. The drums play an integral part. They cue the songs between frenetic and subdued instrumental moments. “When You Asked” rises and falls through multiple cadences in the first minute before the vocals cut in.
And the vocals somehow manage to cut above all this instrumental work. Using harmonies and vocalist tradeoffs, Shrouded Amps pose lyrical observations about the origins of home and animalistic behaviours. Maybe it is metaphorical, but the ambiguity helps the songs remain ethereal amidst the viscous music.
Come Along to the Chocolate Church is a hefty offering of intensity — a teenage riot sinking deep into your eardrums. The three-piece carry dynamic instrumental sections with dark melodies that contrast the hushed vocals. The album is brisk, but satisfyingly lush and worth following along.