CHURCH OF MISERY: Born Under a Mad Sign

Born Under a Mad Sign



SABBATH BLOODY SABBATH: It’s obvious there’s enough documentation about serial killers, lethal rampages, and murderous sprees to keep Church of Misery going until they decide to throw in the claret-stained towel. As someone who’s also listened to more than enough Black Sabbath, as well as the countless bands who have borrowed from the Butler, Iommi, Osbourne, Ward discography and twisted that original output around their own intentions and/or blatantly ripped Sabbath off, it’s plain to see there are enough riffs oozing minor key tar, dank sludgy swagger, and warbling heaviness to keep Church of Misery going until…well, you get the gist. 

For the uninitiated, these Tokyo sewer crawlers have been worshipping at two specific altars since their 1995 formation—serial killers and Black Sabbath. Every song zeros in on the topic of one of humanity’s many prolific people eradicators and does so atop a bottom heavy, bluesy shuffle, tritones, and seemingly hails straight from the bowels of late 60s/early 70s Birmingham pub and factory floors. Born Under a Mad Sign is Church of Misery’s first collection of stoner serial killer anthems since 2016’s And Then There Were None… and does pretty much zilch to mess with the recipe. Even if the band continues to attach a harder and fuzzier Sleep, Electric Wizard, and Cathedral edge to the likes of “Beltway Sniper (John Allen Muhammad),” “Freeway Madness Boogie (Randy Kraft)” and “Spoiler”—and a bit of Crowbar styled guitar layering in “Murder Castle Blues “H.H. Holmes)”—a Sabbathian strut remains the foundation. 

Massive riffs lurch around the confines of the British blues and American hard rock that were the original elements that birthed heavy metal. Church of Misery doesn’t emerge with an original note to their name so much as reinterpreting the rolling thunder of original heavy metal. They’re masters of emulating and reinterpreting the sound of Black SabbathParanoidMaster of Reality, and Vol. 4 through the lens of the Japanese obsession with melody and 70s rock groove infatuation. That Church of Misery can make heads nod and hips swivel with admittedly recycled riffs and songs about the DC Beltway being shot up and a killer who kept a scorecard of his horrific handiwork goes to show that it’s not always about delivering the novel goods.

Sometimes it’s about packaging up the same old, same old with a shiny new ribbon and bow, as long as they are shiny enough. Granted, the organ warbling in “Spoiler” and the slide guitar in “Come and Get Me Sucker (David Koresh)” are bonuses added to an already rocking superstructure. However, it’s more about how hard and hearty that superstructure rocks to begin with. And it does, even if you’ve heard it all before. ~ Kevin Stewart-Panko