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Let me add my voice to the crowd of cheerleaders for this album which has just been re-released by Rise Above Records in 2012 with a different, more creepy cover for a North American audience. Easy to see why Lee Dorrian likes this cheerily named Japanese bunch who play a very melodic stoner doom metal with super-heavy and grinding bass, strong percussion section, a lead vocalist, Hideki Fukasawa, who sings with crushed rocks in his throat and lead guitar with a range of tones that goes '70-s retro and hard-edged raw in equal measures. The band's choice of subject matter - on this album, various notorious serial killers such as Ted Bundy and Aileen Wuornos of the United States and Andrei Chikatilo from Russia - may not be palatable to most people and is sure to alienate major commercial record labels but that's all the better for us! Fortunately the lyrics are sung in a growling death-metal style and are close to indecipherable so they don't interfere with listeners' enjoyment of the actual music which is the real joy of Church of Misery.
First track "I, Motherfucker (Ted Bundy)" begins strongly with a very strong and catchy riff - if it weren't for the title and the topic, this would be obvious single material as is also the second track, the even bouncier groove-tastic "Soul Discharge (Mark Essex)". Creepy samples and little snippets of news broadcasts detailing the different serial murderers' crimes pop up to add some nice cold chill here and there in most songs. Impossibly the band ventures into near-ballad territory with little touches of atmospheric synthesiser on "Red Ripper Blues (Andrei Chikatilo)" - how's that for a seriously sick sense of humour? The singing is similarly laid-back but the roaring riff-heavy music juggernaut chorus is never far away.
The band do a cover of a Cactus song "One Way ... or Another" which is an out-and-out rock'n' roll song that sounds a bit '70s in melody and structure with plenty of lead guitar breaks and steely riffing. Go further and "Candy Man (Dean Coroll)" is rather disappointing filler for a band like Church of Misery, in the context of otherwise stirring music.
"El Topo" is a departure for the band - it may be a homage to the Alejandro Jodorowsky film of the same name - and is mostly instrumental with many ambient synthesiser effects.
Bonus track "For Mad Men Only (May Blitz Cover - extended version" is the real treat of this reissue: the sound and production are less polished but the minimal treatment lends a raw, hungry and energetic quality to the music and Church of Misery sound like a real bunch of hairy hippie dope-smoking rockers! The lyrics are shoved out of the way as fast as possible so the lead guitar can shoot off on its own cosmic trajectory and the synthesiser squeals go their own way in the stratosphere up ahead. The rhythm section maintains the time-keeping momentum with no breakouts of its own but I'm not worried: the rollercoaster ride with the lead guitarist, the crazy singer's yabberings and his synth-playing will be mind-blowing enough for most people.
Apart from a few tracks towards the end, this album has energy, dance-worthy riffing and melodies and inspired musicianship to spare and if you don't already know Church of Misery, this second album is the best place to introduce yourself to their particular stoner doom metal style. Melody and massive riffing with a grinding bass and rhythm are sure to trap you in the band's evil serial-killer fantasies. Fans of Boris, Greenmachine and Corrupted should check these guys out.