The Blurred Crusade shows a band totally in control of itself, as well as a stubborn individuality. They could have become Australia's rock poster boys, instead, we find those mysterious knights and the little bird. We could have found a story, but with a strangeness reminding me of David Lynch's later movies, they are veiling, blurring it. Everything seems in its place, everything follows a certain logic. The Blurred Crusade is an album of incredible coherence. If you read Chrome3d's historical crusade interpretation before, everything seems to hint at a concept album. But we can look at every page, we know all is tightly linked together, but we don't see the plans, like a pleasant book we won't ever understand.
A Fire Burns is the hardest rocking song on Crusade, and maybe the only one showing a little rock n roll swagger among the other nine chamber rock masterpieces. I never really cared too much for it, but in the context of the album, it just has to be there, just as Almost With You's nylon string solo is compellingly logical. I know, it's all in my mind, just as that coloured mess painted by Monet melts into gardens, lakes and fields with a few steps distance. A Fire Burns is a close cousin of Life Speeds Up, it's almost as if they had taken apart and reassembled it. Compare the drum grooves and guitar hooks. Even at its heaviest, it's still crystal clear chamber music to me. The new quality lies in Crusade's very special transparence. Every instrumental track shines with gorgeous clarity, every track lies next to each other like rubies in a crown, still forming one big whole.
After the release of R.E.M.'s Automatic for the people, we had the beautiful genre name of Chamber Pop. Associated with autumnal misanthropy, melancholy and acoustic orchestration. What I am seeing, even in A Fire Burns, is chamber music as well. Progressive chamber rock. We are far from the huge abysses of Priest=Aura, far from the vitriolic space rock of latter days, but in a very sober state of early, masterly perfection. This is what I meant before, after the debut, The Church were fully mature, going into a different direction with every record. Ha, that's record company happiness, an adult band doing whatever they think has to be done with every record. As they say on their myspace site, they sound incredibly like themselves. Here, they opted for sped-up growing up, mystery, clarity and a certain haze of thematic darkness. I close my eyes and try to associate The Church with colours....dark, black, amber, with oriental red textures moving under the surface. I listen to the music, with ears as wide open as possible and I can't nail down where the darkness comes from.
Just now, 26 years after the release and 16 years after purchase, I start to admire the gesamtkunstwerk of The Blurred Crusade.