The Other Side of Blasphemy

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There's the oft-mocked "Cookie Monster" voice so prevalent in contemporary metal, and then there's Uchino. The mono-named vocalist for doomy Japanese metalcore trio Coffins, Uchino sings in such a bass-heavy, bone-rattling, low-and-slow drone that absent compelling evidence to the contrary, one almost suspects after-the-fact production trickery. Even those heartily sick of the death-growl cliché may well find Uchino's extreme take on the style compelling. But the real reason The Other Side of Blasphemy works is that this power trio has perfected a style of contemporary doom metal that goes back to the music's original sources: the fingerprints on these six lengthy songs (plus the ghostly two-minute coda "Rise") belong not to some all but unknown bunch of Scandinavians, but to Vanilla Fudge, Blue Cheer and, yes, Black Sabbath. The guitars are heavy and distorted, playing blocky power chords at molasses-slow tempos. The rhythm section plods along with all the subtlety and fawn-like grace of a sumo wrestler. The lyrics -- well, the lyrics might as well be in Japanese for all their intelligibility, but lyrics truly don't matter on an album like this. In a better world, The Other Side of Blasphemy would be a portent of a new kind of retro-metal, but as it is, it's a doomy blast.

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