Recently Purchased: Church of Misery - The Ultimate Death Metal?


Heavy metal doesn't get much blacker — and bloodier — than this: Church of Misery are a Japanese quartet that writes original hammering odes to serial killers, and nothing but — except when they take a vicious whack at an old acid-crunch or stoner-metal cover like Sir Lord Baltimore's "Master Heartache," as they do in the middle of Houses of the Unholy (Rise Above), issued in 2009. The dead-Zeppelin twist in that album title and the CD booklet's outrageous remixes of iconic Blue Note album art — Lee Morgan's 1965 Cornbread with homicidal teen Charlie Starkweather; John Coltrane's 1957 Blue Train, starring nurse killer Richard Speck — were bait enough to buy this (along with a strong recommendation from a friend). But Church of Misery — founded by bassist Tatsu Mikami in 1996 — make a dynamic articulated hell, like the Tokyo-Blue-Cheer crush of Boris but grounded in the British white-blues nightmares of early Seventies Black Sabbath. While the subject rigor borders on cornball, the point of tracks like the Speck ode "Born to Raise Hell" and the Starkweather nod, "Badlands," is the pure slice and roar. Still, Church of Misery — who have already released an early sides compilation and live album this year — will never run out of human beasts to sing about: There is too much evil in the world.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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