Church of Misery

Master of Brutality

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Church of Misery may very well be the undisputed (and unchallenged) kings of Japanese stoner/doom. But that's not just because they're competition is so limited. These disciples of sludge earned plenty of credibility with their first two releases, Taste the Pain and Church of Misery, so it wasn't a surprise when Yoshiaki Negisi (vocals), Tomohiro Nishimura (guitars), Tatsu Mikami (bass), and Junji Narita (drums) dropped the supremely heavy EP Master of Brutality. Recordings that feature music this slow and thick rely completely on the groove capacity of the musicians involved. The riffs simply must be charged with an essence that's difficult to describe but immediately recognizable to aficionados of stoner/doom. When done right, a certain timelessness comes into affect. It's as if metal never wandered so far away from its simplistic, psychedelic roots -- as if this wasn't just another subgenre in what has become an incredibly segmented form. There's plenty of said magic and ability on Master of Brutality, as each of the five original tracks (that just as with prior Church of Misery releases are each based on different serial killers) pound mercilessly through repetitive, yet sublime stoner figures. There are no high or low spots, no weak tracks to be avoided, or embarrassing experiments. On this 2001 Southern Lord release there are just six (including one Blue Öyster Cult cover) relentless, sonic clubbings. Any serious fan of low and slow metal has a hole in their collection until they acquire Master of Brutality.

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