By Gruesome Greg
Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to Black Sabbath 13 and everything, but my most-anticipated June 11th release was the new Church of Misery. Of course, it wasn’t in stores anywhere in Toronto, so I had to order it in, and as such, I didn’t get to hear it until a week later. As a matter of fact, I’m taking 13 out of my CD changer to put this one in, so there ya go.
Suffice to say my favourite Japanese serial doomsters are back with another platter of sinister slaughter in super slo-mo. The album opens with a six-and-a-half-minute instrumental interspersing some funky percussion, swirling psych riffs and sound clips of “Bind Torture Kill” strangler Dennis Rader, before descending into the bass-heavy grooves we all know and love. Or at least I do, and you should!
Let’s put it this way: the opening riff of “Lambs to the Slaughter” out-Sabbaths anything found on 13. I shit you not. This one kicks up the tempo a tad to a mid-paced chug that’s anything but boring, delivering hook-heavy verses that will have you nodding in agreement—even if you can’t understand a word. (Something about living and dying, and a shallow grave, perhaps?) “Brother Bishop” offers some more heavy grooves woven around a tale about Gary Heidnik, a rather unsavoury character. (I’ll leave it to you to look him up.) Again, you can hear shades of Sabbath here, particularly in the riff that first appears around the three-minute mark. Not that I’m complaining…
“Cranley Gardens” begins with bass—well okay, a news reporter, then bass—before delivering a series of fuzz-laden body blows, this song slow and mellow, but still somewhat menacing, ending with a swirl of feedback after delivering the fatal blow (with accompanying Hideki Fukasawa death belch). Now, the band’s no stranger to sixties/seventies covers (who can forget their “Cities on Flame with Lock and Loll,” heh heh), but I must admit, I’m not too familiar with Quartermass, so I can’t comment on the original version of “One Blind Mice.” That said, it’s probably safe to say the British prog rock band never sounded so heavy.
“All Hallow’s Eve” brings back the doom, a sludgy Sabbathian slog that sounds like Vol 4 through a pair of blown-out speakers and a two-ton subwoofer, leading us to the final pièce de résistance. If I even know who Peter Kürten is, it’s because he was immortalized in the anthemic Macabre set-closer “Vampire of Düsseldorf.” As such, my eyes were immediately drawn to Track Seven, “Düsseldorf Monster,” which ends this album.
At 12 minutes, 45 seconds, it’s a whole lot longer than the Macabre chestnut, and has me thinking “War Pigs” within the first 30 seconds. But this one takes a different approach from the minimalist Sabbath classic; it’s still drawn out, downtuned doom, just without the empty spaces. And it only takes a couple minutes before we’re held captive by another signature Tatsu Mikami bass groove, nodding to our master despite the cold feeling of dread. That said, the song slows to a stop around the five-minute mark, when another Iommiesque blues riff signals a change of pace, accompanied by some drum fills that shoulda been on that last Sabbath record, if you catch my drift… It’s not often this band deals in up-tempo, swirling psych, but maaaaaan, what a trip!
Hey, I know they’re pretty much preaching to the choir at this point; I’ve been worshiping at the Church of Misery for quite some time now. That said, for fans of fuzz-heavy doom, I repeat: this is better than the new Black Sabbath. Call your local record store, cuz they probably don’t have it on their shelves…
(Rise Above/Metal Blade)