Review: Church Of Misery - Born Under A Mad Sign
Born Under A Mad Sign
Rise Above Records
Tokyo's Church Of Misery has been churning out serial killer themed doom since 1995 to become one the genres most respected. In 2023 they are back with their sixth full-length Born Under A Mad Sign and thank God it's more of the same from these Japanese disciples of Black Sabbath.
“Beltway Sniper (John Allen Muhammad)" begins the record with news clips reporting on the captivating 2002 Maryland/D.C. area shooting spree, before lurching into a riff that’ll knock your block off. Bassist Tatsu Mikami may be the only consistent member through the band’s 28 years, but Church Of Misery as whole hits with a familiarity other acts strive for. Part of that is due to the return of original vocalist Kazuhiro Asaeda, who hasn’t been heard from since 1997’s Vol. 1. Only minutes are needed to hear that Asaeda is still the man for the job, but you’ll get fifty to mull it over.
Church Of Misery lock into fuzzed out riffs that envelop the listener into a head bobbing trance. It’s almost disappointing whenever the song transitions to another part, but immediately gratifying when the same trance begins again. See the back half of “Most Evil (Fritz Marmann)” for the finest example of a doom band finessing their way from one riff to another. This is rock and roll that would make Tony Iommi himself blush.
There’s a grime to the sound of Church Of Misery. It’s always been there and has allowed the band to fit in with the more extreme side of heavy metal. Stoner rock might try to claim them, but the dinginess of their tone, both audibly and visually, resonates with the underground. Still, when they want to get psychedelic, like on “Spoiler”, there’s no question they know what they’re doing. It’s not going to be anyone’s preferred version of Church Of Misery, but it's a nice respite from the doom and gloom on a long album like this.
28 years in, Church Of Misery has elapsed their silver anniversary and earned their patina. Mikami and his refreshed line-up have delivered an album of high level doom metal supremacy with Born Under A Mad Sign.