Adrian Castillo, songwriter/guitarist-vocalist of South County hardcore outfit Children of God, will have you know his band are absolutely not Christian rock. "There are no religious undertones in our music," Castillo insists. "None of us identifies with any religious doctrine."
The name for the band actually spawned from Castillo's interest in cults–in this case, the Children of God, a Jesus-freak commune that was founded in Huntington Beach in the late 1960s and rose to notoriety for alleged evangelical religious prostitution, a practice called "flirty fishing." On the band's first demo EP, you'll hear the sampled confessions of Ricky Rodriguez, son of cult founder Moses David.
"It's something along the lines of 'Some people may not agree with what I'm about to say . . . but I'm going to say it anyway,'" Castillo says, describing the sample. Then the opening seconds give way to loud feedback before finally exploding into a furious drop-tuned tantrum, with tempos pushing upward of 170 bpm–some real intense shit.
Castillo formed the band four years ago before he was of legal drinking age, recruiting musicians from the South County hardcore punk scene: his childhood friend and guitarist Shaun Aguilar, also in La Tinas, and half-man, half-beast drummer Chip Watson also in Adult Books. (The newest member, bassist Traz Mooso, from Agowilt, joined this month, replacing original bassist Kevin Kline.) "We started off playing really fast," Castillo says about the band's earliest work, which evenly straddled the line between hardcore punk and doom metal.
"Playing fast got boring, and we didn't want to be a one-trick pony," Castillo adds. So the band changed their approach for the 2013 release of We Set Fire to the Sky. They've inserted sections of sludgy, half-tempo bass-and-guitar breaks, all juiced-up and fuzzed-out, with massive low end that rattles the solar plexus and creates a general ambiance of anxiety and dread. That's how you know it's good.
"It's emotionally abrasive music," says Castillo. "The theme of the record is isolation–feeling isolated as a human, feeling isolated as a species, and embracing that feeling. This feeling has always been a struggle I've had within myself, and it felt good to purge it into this piece."
Tapping sonic influence from doom bands such as Neurosis and Cult of Luna, Children of God have placed themselves comfortably in the doom realm. But that's not really something Castillo pays attention to when crafting his tunes; he doesn't mind that the group have been tabbed "metallic hardcore" or "blackened hardcore" by metal bloggers. "We draw inspiration from everything," he says. "Sound-wise, throughout our catalog, you can hear potential for the next material just under what we're playing in those songs."
The band have even begun to incorporate acoustic instrumentation, adding a bizarre, exotic dynamic to an amped-up style of music, a nod to their heroes Neurosis–who are highly regarded in metal circles for their remarkably dynamic and progressive compositional approach.
"Since this band's inception, we have always tried to evolve and progress our sound," Castillo says. "This release is the next chapter."