Review Summary: church of misery once again effortlessly amass their devoted congregation.
The drug-infused, feedback-driven style of sludge doom that Church of Misery have perfected over the course of their decade-long arse pummeling reaches another peak with their fourth full length, Houses of the Unholy
. In every sense, the band has remained within the confines of the genre, as well as the bounds that they set with previous albums, but it is immediately noticeable that their music has become progressively better written and better executed, solidifying the band in the higher echelons of sludge.
Church of Misery’s grasp over their blues influence is easily their strongest point – each riff and melody is shaped to incorporate the genre’s legacy, groove-laden arrangements constantly flirting with Black Sabbath-esque doom. It could even be said that Church of Misery, along with contemporaries Electric Wizard
, represent the modern day image of the legendary doom group; the almost instantaneous appeal of their catchy hooks hopping in and out of resonating feedback is remarkably reminiscent of Iommi’s pioneering style.
As the shortest track on the record, ‘Shotgun Boogie’ runs with a heated urgency and gives a somewhat condensed representation of what Church of Misery are all about. The first minute consists of a flurry of ascending hooks weaving in and out dense riffage, before stopping for a second’s inhale. You can almost smell the smoke lingering about the song, remnants of its ‘divine’ inspiration.
Although it’s a technique widely used by sludge bands, the sound samples interspersed about the album add a further level of depth to its character. What one can note about Houses of the Unholy
however is that Church of Misery have restrained themselves when it comes to these marijuana induced paralyses, in which the samples appear most prominent. The garbled voice-overs that introduce ‘Blood Sucking Freak’, and similarly ‘Born to Raise Hell’, are not the feature of either track, but are still highly potent in their diminished positions.
Nonetheless, the shortage of samples and psychedelic passages that were abundant in earlier releases such as Master of Brutality
is made up by a huge versatility throughout the album’s instrumentation. The midsection of ‘Blood Sucking Freak’ exemplifies the band’s talents, with a lead break worming its way out of the rhythm and flaring into a solo, one which reminds the listener that despite the sludge aesthetic that comes with Church of Misery, the band is not incapable of toying with melody and producing something rather intimate and heart-warming.
The aforementioned moment of grace is cut short almost immediately however, as ‘Blood Sucking Freak’ falls back into place; the coarse vocals most definitely play their part in this abrupt return to ferocity. It may seem that Houses of the Unholy
is rough around the edges, but sound-wise the various elements are clear and musically coherent. The coating of feedback makes a certain impact, but it is most definitely the thick and belligerent yells that give an aggressive edge to what is rather pleasing music.
With Houses of the Unholy
, it’s apparent that Church of Misery have purged the less accessible components of their music and, although rather marginally, have improved upon their well established formula of catchy stoner tunes. The record remains hard-hitting, but not without being a comfortable expression of sludge, one which is consistently enjoyable and appealing. Highly recommended.