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Church Of Misery - And Then There Were None

Church Of Misery
And Then There Were None
by Vallabhaneni Srikar at 09 May 2016, 12:51 AM

I first came across CHURCH OF MISERY when their previous album “The Kingdom Scum” was released back in 2013. I had listened to one song then and brushed the band aside judging that it was too progressive for my ears. That was a time when I was naïve and still an amateur in terms of my knowledge of the Stoner Metal genre. So when I found out that the new album was released a few weeks back and I had the opportunity to review it, I thought this would be a good test for myself to see how far I have come in my knowledge of the genre; and to see if I can dig such music this time around. The Japanese Stoners’ 6th full length album “And Then There Were None” really surprised me, surprised me in a pleasant way.

The album begins with an 8 minute track “The Hell Benders”. The intro of the track starts with an audio clip of a man hammering another man to death before making its way into the actual song. The juicy, Sludgy sound present here is unique and different, even when you compare it with contemporary Sludge bands. This is a new brand of Sludge Metal that is not just varied in emotion, but also the sound, the vibe, and the nature of its production. The guitar riffs cry and swing along, taking you on a slow journey, deeper and deeper into a novel world. The melodies, the atmospheric sounds and the old school touch are used to perfection by the lads, and their proficiency in their craft is truly evident in the finished product. “Make Them Die Slowly” starts with a sharp double tap riff that soon becomes central to the song while the screaming vocals of Scott Carlson (ex-CATHEDRAL) do a wonderful job on top of it. The vocals here are of a ‘clean growling’ nature, and as you listen to Scott Carlson’s vocal approach more and more with each song, you realise the difference between this ‘clean growling’ and the harsh thick Death Metal style growling. In this song, the backing gang vocals are used to a greater effect, whilst the main vocals are applied sparingly.

Continuing the stories of horrific murders started in the 1st song, “Doctor Death” starts off with an audio clip of a news report about a murder scene, which is soon replaced by heavy riffs with ‘clean guttural’ vocals. Faster than most of the other tracks on the record, "Doctor Death" sounds more akin to Stoner Metal dosed with Sludgy riffs; which is certainly not a bad thing, for it's the juicy, sludgy guitar riffs backed by mid-tempo drumbeats that really make CHURCH OF MISERY such an enticing band.

Carrying on with the Stoner sound, “River Demon” concentrates more on a "trippy" feel, and the main central riffs are truly unique and perfect for a good air-guitar jam in your own little room! The song doesn’t feel over the top and the band doesn’t try to achieve more than they can, and in doing so, stay within their limits and work within those boundaries beautifully. Varying between slow melodic parts and heavy ones, “Confessions Of An Embittered Soul” really takes you into another dark, deep world that is the domain of Sludge Metal. The song develops into a faster number than I expected it to be and sounds more Stoner-ish like a few of the previous tracks.

In “Suicide Journey” the band enhances the story telling with a 1.53 min random news report audios with atmospheric music playing in the background. As you would expect with albums like this, it ends with a longer 8:40 minute “Murderfreak Blues”, which packs belting face melting Sludge riffs that can bring a smile even to the seasoned fans of the genre. The track doesn’t just go slam-bang with heavy riffs, but gives it a real twist by having atmospheric mid-tempo riffs all the way through, and building the tension with the help of the dark growling vocals.

Japanese Sludge giants CHURCH OF MIDERY’s new full-length album bares shades of bands like RED FANG, ELECTRIC WIZARD, and others of the genre. This album really stamps its authority into your mind. We have all listened to Sludge Metal bands with Death Metal vocals and know how nasty and evil they sound, but CHURCH OF MISERY show what you can achieve with clean vocals, and a more innovative approach. “And Then There Were None” is a really strong album as it kept me engaged all the way through. It is a great listen, especially if you dig the genres involved here. Ride on.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 7
Memorability: 8
Production: 9


4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
  1. The Hell Benders
  2. Make Them Die Slowly
  3. Doctor Death
  4. River Demon
  5. Confessions Of An Embittered Soul
  6. Suicide Journey
  7. Murderfreak Blues
Lineup:
Tatsu Mikami – Bass
Eric Little – Drums
Dave Szulkin – Guitars
Scott Carlson – Vocals
Record Label: Rise Above Records
     


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Edited 02 December 2022
 

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