Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Review of Church of Misery's And Then There Were None

Church of Misery has spent its twenty year lifespan revolving countless lineups around bandleader bassist Tatsu Mikami, but the group usually stuck to its Japanese roots. Now with its sixth full-length album, the Church has opened its doors to create a supergroup of sorts based on the American doom scenes. Thankfully the result is a powerful album that is a worthy addition to the band's serial killer obsessed legacy.

While the production job and musicianship may have more polish than past efforts, And Then There Were None has the band's signature tropes firmly intact. The riffs are executed in a sludgy stoner fashion and the sparse samples run well with the usual lyrical themes of non-fictional sadism, torture, and murder. Mikami's bass lines predictably lead the charge but the other members find ways to leave strong impression. Eric Little's drumming directs the tempo changes well, guitarist Dave Szulkin puts a pummeling stamp on the material, and Scott Carlson's first vocal session since the early days of Repulsion sees him pull off a husky yet melodic growl that channels Lee Dorrian and Earthride's Dave Sherman.

The songs aren't bringing much new to the table but they are satisfying in their variety. The mid-tempo grooves on "Make Them Die Slowly" and "Confessions of an Embittered Soul" are among the most infectious ever recorded and the swing on "Doctor Death" is truly something to behold. Like any doom band, you'll find your share of Sabbath homages as "Suicide Journey" is a "Planet Caravan" style interlude while the shuffle on "River Demon" is a near beat for beat echo of "Wicked World."

The logistics surrounding this lineup may lead to it being a temporary studio venture, but And Then There Were None is more than worthy of being associated with Church of Misery. While it may not be as gritty as some of their other efforts, the excellent riffs and vicious vocals make it a shining example of how this genre should be played. Highly recommended to both new listeners and thoe who thought that Thy Kingdom Scum would be the Church's final sermon.

"The Hell Benders"
"Make Them Die Slowly"
"Doctor Death"
"Confessions Of An Embittered Soul"

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