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Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum Review

by Matt Hensch

While 2013 brought the disappointing Black Sabbath "reunion," including that unbelievably tedious excuse of an album that pissed on a monolithic legacy, at least one band delivered old-school doom metal that wasn't poisoned by age, a lack of reason, and the money monster known as Rick Rubin. This entity calls itself Church of Misery: Japan's undisputed kings of doom since 1995, whose style of Black Sabbath-esque destruction never screwed around with needless influences or unwarranted bollocks. These authentic riff sorcerers continue their murderous rampage throughout "Thy Kingdom Scum," and they bring life back into this nostalgic blueprint that strongly contradicts so many groups attempting to look "real" or "authentic" in some warped sense of posturing. Church of Misery IS real and authentic, and they again show why serial killers and the heavy metal boogie work so well together.

The definition of worship, the record takes on more Black Sabbathisms than you can handle. This observation, of course, is nothing new to the seasoned Church of Misery disciple, as the bluesy, slow-cooked riffs and liberated bass playing should not surprise anyone familiar with the gang. The remarkable thing about Church of Misery is how the band translates its obvious doom obsession: the record is far from synthetic or forced, but instead totally running with jam vibes and images of a bunch of dudes hammering out husky, rustic doom metal because it's freakin' awesome and they love its intensity and atmosphere. The only noticeable difference between "Thy Kingdom Scum" and Church of Misery's other works is the production, which, instead of the ultra-primitive bass fuzz and raw guitar sound, appears to be much more equalized and clear, yet the general balance of instruments is still full-blooded; losing that grit would kill Church of Misery's identity. That edge is still a vital part of the group's sound, thankfully.

The seven-song rampage is yet another fantastic release by this awesome project, and it's quite surprising how fresh and lively they've been able to remain after shifting lineups and the grind of time. With few surprises to boot, "Thy Kingdom Scum" is all about the comprehensive power of the riff matching the intensity of sturdy rhythm sections and spiky vocals. They can comfortably add "Brother Bishop (Gary Heidnik)" and "Dόsseldorf Monster (Peter Kόrten)" to Church of Misery's list of all-time greats, although they never run out of rupturing vampires that feed off groovy rock 'n' roll goodness such as "Cranley Gardens (Dennis Andrew Nilsen)." The Quartermass cover, continuing the band's tradition of covering a tune on every full-length release, is a burning jolt of electricity; they make it a riotous rocker of intensity and zest. Raw and ravaging, "Thy Kingdom Scum," thy doom is done.

Before the release Church of Misery had once more rotated between Hideki Fukasawa and Yoshiaki Negishi for the group's vocalist slot. Fukasawa's return after leaving the fold for several years sounds quite enjoyable here, and his gritty tone and aggressive yelps make the record another Church of Misery album that is just too good to be true; every song kicks total ass. Again, they refuse to adjust their identity to appeal to a larger market or niche, and again, Church of Misery's kingdom of doom has captivated its audience with another fantastic release. What else is there to say? It's doom metal that's completely untainted by watered-down modernism and the false nonsense of so many other bands. Someone will find Jimmy Hoffa's body before Church of Misery begins sucking the big one.

Church of Misery - Thy Kingdom Scum


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