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Houses of the Unholy

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Album Review

Church of Misery are a high concept band (high concept = a Hollywood term referring to a movie that can be described in a single sentence); they're a stoner metal band from Japan who write songs about real-life serial killers. They also tend to include one cover song on each album — past entries have included Iron Butterfly's "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida," Blue Öyster Cult's "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll," and Saint Vitus' "War Is Our Destiny." This time out, they bash their way through Sir Lord Baltimore's "Master Heartache." The serial killers discussed in the other seven songs are: Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo, Mexican drug lord and Satan worshiper; James Oliver Huberty, who shot 22 people at a McDonald's in 1984; Albert Fish, early 20th century child molester, murderer, and all-around freak; Richard Trenton Chase, the so-called "Vampire of Sacramento"; Richard Speck, who killed eight student nurses in Chicago; and the team of Charles Starkweather and Caril Fugate, whose 1950s Midwestern killing spree was already immortalized in Bruce Springsteen's song "Nebraska." The disappointing thing about Church of Misery is that all they've really got going for them is the core concept. The music is fairly standard stoner rock — big fuzzy riffs, slow pounding drums, hoarsely shouted vocals (with no Japanese accent), the occasional wah-wah solo. The musicians are talented, but have no interest in stretching their genre even one inch in any direction. They sound like a slightly cleaned-up Eyehategod, or like any one of a dozen other sludgy, throbbing bands working the post-Sabbath trench. This isn't a bad album, quite rockin' in parts, but it's pretty inessential.


Genre: Metal

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Church of Misery hold the distinction of being one of the first doom metal bands to emerge from Japan. Formed during the late '90s and influenced by the usual suspects (Black Sabbath, Kyuss, Saint Vitus, etc.), Church of Misery originally comprised members Yoshiaki Negishi (vocals), Tomohiro Nishimura (guitar), Tatsu Mikami (bass), and Hideki Shimizu (drums). It was this lineup that issued a pair of independent EPs -- 1998's Taste the Pain and 1999's Murder Company -- before Negishi was replaced...
Full Bio

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Houses of the Unholy, Church Of Misery
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