As always when dealing with anything on Rise Above Records, my expectations were high when this promo with a peculiar cover arrived in my mailbox. "Houses Of The Unholy" is my first meeting with this insane group of Japanese BLACK SABBATH-worshipers, and this humble reviewer is already prepared to bow at their altar. With lyrical themes centered around real-life notorious serial killers, CHURCH OF MISERY sound like if Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler both had a severe case of ADD, and the result is goddamn ferocious.
In spite of having their legs firmly planted in modern Stoner Metal, CHURCH OF MISERY draw heavily from 70s bands to create a psychedelic atmosphere. The sometimes bluesy guitars are the perfect match for a somewhat sludgy yet spastic approach to Stoner Doom, and the guitar solos are ripping without going overboards. Add a vocalist who sounds out of this world, screaming and shouting like a madman, and you've got a recipe for success. The mix is suitably fuzzy, adding a raw edge to the groovy cocktail of riffs and creepy samples, which consist of news-footage about the conceptual killers.
For any Doom fans nostalgic about the 70s, but who are not afraid of progress, "Houses Of The Unholy" is like a gift from the gods. Aggressive and trippy, CHURCH OF MISERY brings you on a journey through space, and then they smash you back to earth with brutality that can only be matched by the subjects of their lyrics. Do not miss out on this one, or CHURCH OF MISERY will kill you.
(Online August 11, 2009)