Japan's Church Of Misery never really have disappointed as far as I'm concerned and the stoner/doom metallers continue with their anti-trend/anti-corporate attitude in the vein of yet another potent doom release. Needless to say, doom isn't very popular in Japan for some reason and I haven't heard this approach from too many other bands in the region. Needless to say, quality is better than quantity and that's exactly what you'll get here. Musically, it reminds me of something like Corrosion Of Conformity, EyeHateGod, Black Sabbath, Acid Witch, Electric Wizard or Cathedral, except with a much coarser, almost demonic vocal approach at times. The band love playing around with psychedelics as you're going to hear in a few places (the album opener “Hellbenders” begins especially with psychedelics, right after a murder – it could be taken as the soul's ascension to the otherworld in a way) but more than anything else on this disc, I hear the good old blues. There's not a goddamn thing wrong with the blues, and there wouldn't really be a metal or even a rock music in general without them. Elvis certainly had his blues numbers, but what we're talking about is far from Elvis, even though the feeling is definitely still there. Take out the harsh vocal approach and the murder references and you've got yourself a thumping blues album.
Normally I go through these Bonsai Bonuses track by track, but this is one album where I don't really think that's necessary and that's not because this album is a sub-par disc or not worthy of such coverage, but because it's pretty straightforward and I don't feel the need to have to talk about or defend certain approaches. There's nothing about Church Of Misery that even feels normal for Japanese rock or metal and I don't even think the J-Metal term works to describe these guys. Trust me, the roots of heavy metal are found here, and seeing as these guys have been around since '95, there's really no need to introduce them. The listener is going to get a memorable doom experience that I feel is very classic, pretty grotesque and altogether fucking awesome. If you love really sadistic lyrics and catchy as hell blues, then you're going to eat this one up. It's the kind of disc that you enjoy for the base element (blues, groove, solos, psychedelics) but every now and again the band will add in some extra bits here and there to keep you entertained. You know, if I was looking for a good dose of bluesy doom with enough insanity for my depraved mind (guro, guro, guro!) then I'd definitely find this one a pick up and play. There's not a bad song here, with all six (not counting the instrumental section, “Suicide Journey” which definitely goes out there a little bit) delivering exactly the kind of classic approach we'd expect, with a little bit more modernism in the harsh vocals, and a little more imagination in some areas than you'll get with other bands. If you've got to have doom, you've gotta have ...And Then There Were None.
(7 Tracks, 43:00)