By Jared Hynes
If you’ve heard the previous two Church Of Misery albums and quite enjoyed them, then you won’t be disappointed with their latest and third full length release. Houses of the Unholy follows the same formula as 2001’s Master of Brutality and 2004’s Second Coming: bluesy lead riffing over heavily distorted rumbling bass accompanied by an incoherent, gruff vocal delivery that reminds me of inebriated Neil Fallon of Clutch. Of course there’s the obligatory spoken word, song introduction from witnesses or journalists relating to the serial killer that the song pertains too. As well, a cover song from a 70’s semi-obscure hard rock band, in this case Sir Lord Baltimore’s “Master Heartache”
Their base and roots are of the doom genre, but I wouldn’t classify Houses of the Unholy as a doom record as much I would a progressive stoner rock with a whole lot of ugly. The majority of the songs on this record are up-tempo with quite a lot going on with the leads.
Personally, I miss the older material from their ep’s which were darker and doomier, and with a lot less bluesy guitar noodling going on. The closest song to their older formula would be the final track, “Badlands,” which has a dark and eerie feel to it that best represents the subject matter.
Overall, the last three COM releases are enjoyable, but with the subject matter that has become synonymous with the band, the music and atmosphere (or lack of) doesn’t really suit it. As mentioned above, the darker, creepier Church of Misery material found on their early ep’s, really had the entire package. Nowadays, the subject matter is more of a schtick, and only attribute to really set the band apart from others of the genre.