Diehard followers of Dillinger Escape Plan may recognize Timothy Connors, the progressive metal group’s former merch guy and onstage fire-breather. Connors’ own outfit, Sermons, doesn’t sound anything like Dillinger, but it sure spits a flame or two, mostly of the hellish persuasion. Sermons’ full-length debut, An Augury, catches the bassist and his keyboard-centric quartet pounding out a primal, bordering-on-demonic pandemonium of rhythm and noise.
Accordingly, there’s an almost archetypal resonance to An Augury. Right out of the gate, opener “Teach Me Alchemy” steals equal parts grit and ferocity from The Birthday Party and the more decadent wing of mid-’90s San Diego post-hardcore—most notably Antioch Arrow’s Gems Of Masochism, whose eerie, off-kilter theatricality is siphoned and distilled on “Holy Water.” And with the tug-and-shove of its Tracy Pew-esque bassline, “I Sing Trouble” is ritualistically danceable.
The lynchpins, though, are the organs; while frontman Elio Quinn shakes, shivers, and shrieks in tongues throughout the album, his and Jesse Mariani’s dueling Hammond and Rhodes soak the proceedings in an inky, hallucinogenic frenzy. The group’s goth-gone-gospel spew doesn’t always find traction: “I Don’t Scare Crows” fails to summon suitable menace, and “Red Shift (In My Heart)” might have been a great song in the hands of a screamo band. But at its best, An Augury makes a strong case for sinfulness.