Church Of Misery is one of the most famous contemporary doom metal bands from Japan. This is probably due to the fact that the quartet from Shinjuku in Tokyo has been on tour in all places both possible and seemingly impossible to spread their music over the years. Additionally, all of the band’s releases (with one exception) are dedicated to famous serial killers from all around the world. The concept may not be original, but who isn’t intrigued by insane minds and their curious crimes?
Last but not least, the band manages, in a very balanced way, to deliver precisely what we expect from them, and yet to be completely unpredictable. Heavy doom metal riffs, an almost constantly pumping bass guitar, heavy but varied drumbeats, a passionate use of the wah pedal, and excessive jam session-like instrumental parts meet original samples of news reports or taped confessions that add an atmospheric touch to the sinister songs. The music and the topics are kept together by an emotionally roaring, singing, and yelling vocalist who really sings with his heart and his soul without caring about aesthetic perfection. He is completely unpredictable, but absolutely unique within his niche. What he does always seems to fit even if it sounds completely disharmonic at some points. The vocals might sound odd at first, but they are doubtlessly an important trademark of the band.
If you want to listen to a typical song with all these trademarks on Thy Kingdom Scum, go for the epic closer “Düsseldorf Monster”, which is of course dedicated to the German serial killer Peter Kürten. This song might sound overlong at first contact, but it’s a passionate and hypnotizing piece of music that gets more and more fascinating with each spin. The other songs on the record are shorter and more consistent, but I really dig this drug-infused psychedelic old school jam session that lasts for almost thirteen minutes.
Apart from five regular tracks, the band also includes a great instrumental opener entitled “B.T.K.” in dubious honor of Dennis Rader. The song comes along with sound samples of a taped confession of the murders, strange atmospheric sounds, and a truly sinister atmosphere. There is probably no better way to open a conceptual record about serial killers than with a track like this.
As always, the band also includes a shorter cover song on the record. This time, the Japanese quartet chose the track “One Blind Mice” of the rather unknown old British progressive rock band Quatermass. The original song was recorded in the famous Abbey Road Studios in London back in 1970. Usually I happen to find Church Of Misery’s cover songs weaker than the originals, as well as weaker than the band’s own work. This choice is quite good, however, as it keeps the catchy parts of the original, adds some heaviness and pacing, and generally makes the whole thing sound extremely cool and simple. There is even some old school rock ‘n’ roll feel to this track. Obviously, this cover song is a little bit different from the other songs on the record, as the song is much shorter and catchier as well. If the band cared about getting some attention from the mainstream, this would be the obvious single candidate, but they definitely don’t care about such things.
In the end, Church Of Misery is probably the most interesting modern doom metal act in my eyes, save for the eternal and much more accessible Black Sabbath. Fans of psychedelic rock and the stoner scene should find this band quite accessible, and their most recent release to be one of their very best. If you are interested, I might suggest you many other quite diversified doom metal bands from Japan.