Review by Jason Guest
Black Sabbath-wannabes Church of Misery have been bashing out their serial killer-themed doom for almost two decades now and nothing, not one single thing, has changed. And so with album number five, Thy Kingdom Scum, Church of Misery delve deeper into their voluminous library of serial killer biographies for another body of doom-infused, blues-laced and sometimes psychedelic riffing and roaring. Like an aging Godzilla creakily stomping his way over the world’s major cities, the album plods with the same hulking menace that all of the band’s previous works have bestowed upon us. And therein lies the rub…
With its swirling guitar effects and unnerving samples atop the pulsating rhythms of bassist Mikami and drummer Narita, ‘B.T.K. (Dennis Rader)’s unsettling atmospheres sets the dreadful mood of the album. An instrumental, new guitarist Ikuma Kawabe makes a suitably grim impression with his heavier-than-a-bloated-cadaver tone and colossal riffs. Hideki Fukasawa’s mighty roar makes its first appearance in track two, ‘Lambs To The Slaughter (Ian Brady/Myra Hindley)’, and Church of Misery again prove themselves to be the most disturbed and disturbing of the doom lords doing the rounds. A controversial choice of subject matter, whatever it is that Fukasawa is singing, listing a bunch of serial killers in the track titles means that half the work is done and enunciation needn’t be a concern; it’s enough that his bloodcurdling vocals sound suitably maniacal. What does stand out above all is the band’s musicianship; when they kick in with the jams, they groove with the best of them. While newbie Kawabe unleashes mammoth riff after riff and bluesy, psychedelic lead breaks, bassist Mikami and drummer Narita flesh out the low end in the jazz-tinged improvisational spirit of Butler/Ward, Bruce/Baker, Entwhistle/Moon and the like. But with the Sabbath-plundering fuelling the whole album, Thy Kingdom Scum rapidly becomes a game of “Name That Iommi Riff”.
Heavy, catchy, and disconcerting, Church of Misery’s relentless Sabbath-worship, whether deadly serious or entirely tongue-in-cheek, is wearing a bit thin, but they’re still good at it and, if anything, this is as much fun as it is brutal. Arriving around the same time as Cathedral’s passing and Black Sabbath’s resurrection, Thy Kingdom Scum’s got its work cut out. It’s not a bad album, but neither is it great. It’s Church of Misery more refined and so if you want more of the same of what they’ve been churning out since their inception, go for it. But if you want something fresh and exciting, you should check out the début album from label-mates Age of Taurus.
6 out of 10
- B.T.K. (Dennis Rader)
- Lambs To The Slaughter (Ian Brady/Myra Hindley)
- Brother Bishop (Gary Heidnik)
- Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)
- One Blind Mice (Quatermass cover)
- All Hallow’s Eve (John Linley Frazier)
- Dusseldorf Monster (Peter Kurten)