Japan's Church of Misery have two features that not only set them apart from their stoner-metal peers but make them, quite bluntly, more enjoyable than most. One is their knack for groove. The band's sound comes from nothing else but tracking the footsteps of Black Sabbath, paraphrasing the Brits' churning doom rock and sculpting it into a mash of pure, um, well, groove. The drums, with Sabbath-like swampy, swinging tempos — hear drummer Junji Narita's jazzy and constantly moving temperament — set a backdrop for guitarist Tom Sutton and bassist Tastu Mikami to craft viciously catchy lines. They dart around Narita, playing riffs that sound like they've been cherry-picked from their favorite '70s rock records. In addition to Sabbath, Cactus, Cream and Blue Oyster Cult could all be reference points.
For the majority of the CD, the band stays at a slow creep, although they'll find ways to lodge in a burner. The band's vocalist, Hideki Fukasawa, ain't your typical howler, and he growls damn-near indecipherable lyrics. Church of Misery's second interesting feature is their lyrics. The guys obsess on the morbid — namely serial killers, a motif they've used since their earliest demos when each song's lyrics were based around a famous killer (even including newsreel sound bits in the songs!). The words don't factor much into the band's overall sound — since no one understands what the hell Fukasawa's saying anyway — but it does fit into the overall concept of the band's far-out, if peculiar, metallic blues rock.
Kent Alexander writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.