SECT Vocalist Chris Colohan on Music As Therapy + Listen to Their Brand-New Track

Photo: Allix Johnson

Later this week, SECT will be releasing their fourth album, an intense work called Plagues Upon Plagues. The 8-track LP's lyrics deal with "a mournful new reality: the profound loss of lifelong battles in an unraveling civilization," and the music that those songs are built upon is just as jarring and cold.

If you're not already familiar with the quintet, SECT is comprised of vocalist Chris Colohan (Cursed, Left for Dead) guitarist Scott Crouse (Earth Crisis, Tooth & Claw), bassist Steve Hart (Day of Suffering, Mania For Conquest), drummer Andy Hurley (Fall Out Boy, Racetraitor), and guitarist Jimmy Chang (Undying, Catharsis). With members settled in different locations, the recording sessions for Plagues Upon Plagues were spread between two coasts and multiple cities. In a beautiful example of DIY spirit, Chris tracked his parts in a makeshift vocal booth in the old Holy Mountain Printing warehouse in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Today, No Echo is premiering SECT's lyric video for "The Lovers of Life" from the forthcoming album, plus I'm also sharing a brief conversation I had with Chris about his thoughts on turning to music as mental therapy, and the artists he listens to in that spirit.

In the press materials for the new album, you're quoted as saying, “The outlook is bleak, but music helps," and I agree, but in your case, what else does? Now, more than ever, people have turned to things like transcendental mediation, yoga, and other forms of self-care to try and find peace of mind. What’s your take on this?

I can’t speak for out-of-body experiences, but regular old-fashioned meditation and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are both things I’ve taken up over time to try to offset anxiety. But that said, remedies like that are more geared to pushing back on perceptions of doom that haven't broken out from their long-simmering place as undercurrents or points of no return on the horizon, into broad daylight and hourly news.

With music having been my best form of therapy all my life for the stress of detecting those exact and very worrying undercurrents, it’s an entirely different game from here on forward. That in itself was largely both the challenge and the point of 'Plagues Upon Plagues': “There’s no going back to hypotheticals now.”

As I get older (I’m 49), I find that I’m turning to a lot more ambient, jazz, and other forms of instrumental music to try and give my ears/mind a rest from the hardcore/punk/metal/rock/rap I listen to. It also feels therapeutic after sifting through the news cycle insanity. What has your experience been in that regard?

I love all of those things too, and I’m the same age. For a sober person, I’ve long connected with spacey or “stonery” things that take me down a notch, whether it’s Neurosis, John Fahey, Bowery Electric, Gavin Bryers, Earth, Sonny Sharrock - there’s a lot of good options out there. I tend towards the heavy-hearted like the ECM catalogue, Penderecki, Gorecki, so its usually more unsettling sounds than reassuring ones I retreat into.

I’m obviously quite irreligious (and Christian Hardcore can still fuck right off) but I do get down with Holy Minimalism. Arvo Part and company, Penderecki, and there’s a 20th Century Toronto conductor named Healey Willan whose choral work does something soothing to my brain. And for some reason, Brahms. Word to your moms, I came to rock Brahms.

Tell me about “The Lovers of Life” and its lyrics. By the way, do you have carte blanche when it comes to the lyrics in SECT, or do you present your ideas to the band to get their feedback before you finalize things?

I do. The guys know I think a lot about what I say and how, they’ve seen how personally people connect with it and that’s the best any of us can hope for in doing this. "The Lovers of Life" is about the hypocrisy of a West, that uses bumper-sticker-deep faux-noble causes to obscure its violent, self-serving, misanthropic underbelly.

The fact that the “Pro-Life” camp (now woven into the formal power structure) could claim to give a single fuck about hypothetical “lives” while pathologically unable to own up to the mountain of dead and ruined actual lives all around them, speaks to that. And rather than owning it, they retreat further into delusion, scapegoats and tribalism.

These are hallmarks of a civilization that’s run out of road, when there were signs posted every step of the way. Collectively if not individually, we chose cataclysm and now we’re drowning in the receipts. Even as a career pessimist I’m not sure what to say to that, and Plagues is the sound of that conundrum.


Plagues Upon Plagues is out June 7th via Southern Lord Records (pre-order).

Tagged: cursed, left for dead, sect