Church of Misery –Master of Brutality

By Gruesome Greg

Japanese murder doomsters Church of Misery are finally coming to North America for the first time, playing Maryland Deathfest and a dozen other US dates, which makes this the perfect time for Metal Blade (via Rise Above) to reissue their first two full-length albums. The band had already been around for a few years when Master of Brutality came out in ’01, with a few splits and comps to their credit, but this was the firsttime we got to hear ‘em for more than 40 minutes in one sitting.

After an extended opening speech by serial killer Ed Kemper(he of the awful temper), we’re hit with some succulent stoner doom riffage that zips Sleep and Black Sabbath up in a body bag and bashes ‘em on the head with a sledgehammer. (Too graphic? Naaah!) The killing spree continues with “Ripping into Pieces,” a tune dedicated to Peter Sutcliffe, the Yorkshire Ripper. Another blast of swamp heavy bass explodes like a corroded artery as CoM drags the body to a safe hiding place, through the muck and grime of a deep sludgy stew.

“Megalomania” offers a more up-tempo, old-school boogie-rockvibe, this ode to Herbert Mullin containing plenty of punishing stop-startriffs and a laid-back groove that sounds an awful lot like something offa Clutch’s self-titled record. “Green River” takes things down a couple notches, a wah-filled desert rock instro jam with some thudding drums creating an ominous feeling underneath it all. Fifth track “Cities on Flame” pretty muchsteals its intro from Sabbath (yeah, that’s not “The Wizard”…), but you can’t blame the band, as it’s actually a Blue Oyster Cult cover. Yoshiaki Negishi’s Japanese accent also shineson this one, as he bellows about cities on flame with “Lock and Loll,” heh heh.

And then there’s the title track, an 11-minute opus penned to construction killer John Wayne Gacy. The doomy riffs on this one are about as deep as the foundation holes ona construction site, while Negishi lets out an “I know where the bodies are hidden” wail overtop. As it says inlarge type on the back cover: “DEATH TO FALSE STONERS.LET THERE BE DOOM!!”

The reissue also contains a trifecta of bonus tunes, odes tothe Boston Strangler and the Candy Man taken from the former’s namesake EP,along with a live tune called “Lucifer Rising” that I don’t think I’ve heard before. Alas, the booklet offers nothingmore than an eerie charcoal drawing, but the music speaks for itself, pleading not guilty by reason of insanity.

(Rise Above/ Metal Blade)

Sean is the founder/publisher of; he has also written about metal for Exclaim!, Metal Maniacs, Roadburn, Unrestrained! and Vice.