Review: Church of Misery - Master of Brutality

Serial killer-themed sludge rock from Japan. Yep.
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church of misery - master of brutalityJapan’s Church of Misery has made creepy waves with its serial killer obsession, grinding out sludge and doom metal with themes that many find disturbing. Their 2001 debut, Master of Brutality, now sees a reissue (along with their 2004 follow-up The Second Coming) and it is a menacing way to dip into the blood pool for fans who have missed the bus on the first pass.

Perhaps the most stunning thing about Master of Brutality is the fact that Church of Misery is Japanese. The record is filled with Southern-fried sludge with a little Black Sabbath kiss. Sure, bands like Boris have been bashing the shit out (and worshipping) amplifiers for some time now, but Church of Misery’s brand of sludgy doom certainly isn’t the norm for Japanese rockers.

What we have with Master of Brutality is, at its most succinct, a thick, psychedelic slab of grinding, low doom and sludge metal with a serial killer them. This isn’t so much a glorification of the bloodshed, however, as it is a curious love letter to sociopathic murder done American-style.

The album opens with a track called “Killifornia.” The words of Ed Kemper over dark mood sounds create a menacing palette: “I am an American and I killed Americans. I am a human being and I killed human beings.” The downright mean guitars of Tomohiro Nishimura drop in and vocalist Yoshiaki Negisi scowls away like a cross between Lemmy and Mickey Rourke.

“Megalomania” packs a frenetic pace and some diabolical groove metal, while “Green River,” with its murky watery grave foundation, is every bit as eerie as an ode to the Green River Killer can be.

The reissue features some bonus cuts, including a live jam called “Lucifer Rising” and a cut about the Boston Strangler that packs chunky grooves and gobs of wah-wah.

Serial killer-themed doom and sludge metal isn’t for everyone, this much is for sure, but the sick freaks at Church of Misery sure have the pedigree to create one hell of a disturbing but groovy piece of work. For those wondering why these Japanese rockers have been stacking up the praise over the last several years, this reissue of Master of Brutality is a great place to start the insanity.