Sunday, June 09, 2013

Church of Misery-Thy Kingdom Scum

Metal Blade Records / Rise Above Records

What better day is there then Sunday to go to church? No, we're not taking about God's holy place here and you won't be hearing any glory-bound choirs with this Japanese act. Rather thee church...the Church Of Misery is a religion in and off itself! For those that don't know the name then perhaps a bit of explanation would be in order. Don't even consider the darkness that is, style-wise, at the heart of this doom-ridden metal act. That, in and of itself, isn't mainstream metal, but it's not that unexpected either. What sets this band apart from other Sabbath fanatics is their lyrical obsession with serial killers and mass murders! While even that might not be all that unusual, given how heavy metal has long had a reputation of obsessing over serial killers and murders in general, with Church Of Misery it's taken to a much higher plain. Before we delve into the darkness that is "Thy Kingdom Scum" though I did promise a bit of back-story. The band was founded back in 1995 by former Salem member/bass guitarist Tatsu Mikami. While Salem played thrash (and reportedly good thrash at that!) Tatsu wanted more creative freedom to explore other genres of his liking including doom metal and doom rock.With Church Of Misery in place Tasu Mikami could look towards bands like Black Sabbath and Saint Vitus for inspiration. Growing up Tatsu Mikami had embraced heavy metal and thrash, but he was also into the likes of Blue Öyster Cult and underground 60's/early 70's heavy rock like May Blitz, High Tide, Gun, November and Leaf Hound. If you're scratching your head over those last few acts you're not alone as they were new to me as well. All that matters though is that Tasu wanted his new project to reflect his personal musical interests so in 1995, with the help of  Tomohiro Nishimura (guitar), Hideki Shimizu (drums) and Kazuhiro Asaeda (vocals), Church Of Misery started looking to make a name for themselves. In 1996 the band would release their first demo, "ADV.1996", and from there this Japanise act would continue to build up their reputation as being one of the finest post-Sabbath doom-lovin' bands out there. Sure, I'm skipping over a lot of history (and quite a few line-up changes!) with this band by going straight from their demo to this new release, but what's really important here is these 7-tracks that stand before us. With "Thy Kingdom Scum" the familiar sound of Church Of Misery is intact although, in a splendid way of course, the band sounds even more so free of restrictions and just let things unfold in a natural fashion. It's still heavy and that doom metal backside isn't going anywhere, but with this new album it seems as if the band approached things in a very laid back kind of fashion. Of course that's as laid back as you can be when your subject matter covers the likes of Dennis Rader aka the B.T.K. killer! All always these guys pull no punches and are not very shy about their chosen subject matter! Overall this new slab of chilling doom metal is solid and a sign that there is much more for this band to tap into. "Thy Kingdom Scum" should please fans of the group as well as anyone who happens to stumble upon Tatsu Mikami's labor of love!

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