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CHURCH OF MISERY (Houses Of The Unholy) LP/CD

This is the fourth ear-splitting studio album from my beloved Japanese serial killers specialists, and if you're familiar with their previous releases than you know what to expect. CHURCH OF MISERY has internalized the spirit of early Black Sabbath and connected it with the overpowering energy of MC5, but they're also acknowledged experts on lesser known 70's hardrock bands. So it's no surprise that the new album contains a cover version of Sir Lord Baltimore's 'Master Heartache'. It has become a tradition of the band to include a cover from a legendary 70's rock band on their albums and once again CHURCH OF MISERY deliver an outstanding version of that classic tune. But of course, it's the self-penned material what makes this album so good. There's really no point in naming the best tracks on the album as they are all pure pleasure to the ears. From the opening thunderstorm of 'El Padrino' to the closing blood-soaked power chords of the incredibly heavy 'Badlands' this album is an absolute triumph and functions musically as a manifesto for blues-based 70's doom. Tom Sutton fits perfectly into the band and maybe he's the best guitarist that was ever in CHURCH OF MISERY.

The band works so well together and even if I like all their releases, 'Houses of the Unholy' is their most disciplined work. Tatsu Mikami's bass plays a less dominant role here and is the perfect companion to the ultimately dominating riff work that this great album displays while vocalist Hideki Fukasawa remains one of the best singer in the history of the band. Just like on their last record 'The Second Coming' he uses his analogue synths at times and the result is simply overwhelming. It's always exciting, when he's adding some trippy sound f/x to that murderously ripping wall of sound. In fact it's redundant to mention that 'Houses of the Unholy' is varied from start to finish, which is a thing that I personally value. The usual amount of well chosen samples increasing the intensity of this album and they're embedded in a perfect way between most of the seven songs. It's also great to see that CHURCH OF MISERY signed with Rise Above Records, because it was always difficult to find their records in a shop, but this problem should be solved by now. So, all in all, 'Houses of the Unholy' is another quality album from Japan's premier doom band and the next magnificent release in 2009. Trust me , you won't be fretting because you spent your money on it. By the way, the album title is a nice allusion to Led Zep's fifth record. Nice idea.