Re-releases seldom grab my attention, as they are merely regurgitations of past exercises. And yes, I’m aware that I probably make that statement whenever I am about to discuss another re-release.
With that in mind, Metal Blade is distributing for the first time in the United States (take THAT, import fees!) the first album of doom-ish metal band Blood Ceremony, and two other albums from Japanese Black Sabbath idolaters Church of Misery.
While all three albums are worthy contenders for your time, the Blood Ceremony album is the jewel among the trio. An unlikely but well-meshed synthesis of bluesy doom metal, airy female vocals, wild 1970’s synthesizer and woodwind solos (flute or piccolo, your choice,) Blood Ceremony’s self-titled album is stuffed with imagination and unique sounds.
Listen. As a music journalist, I am positively inundated with new sounds and new bands each week. Sorting through that deluge of music can be a daunting and exhausting task, but every so often, there is an album that gains favor off the bat with its twist on something familiar. “Blood Ceremony,” originally released in 2008, had that kind of effect on my senses. All the elements discussed above, co-mingled with a throwback sensibility and tube amp sound, make the listener feel like he or she has been teleported back to 1976 and is awaiting the start of a Deep Purple concert. Make sure to give this a listen, and make sure to pay attention to two cuts at the beginning, “I’m Coming With You” and “Into the Coven.” This is way exploratory doom metal should be done, and Blood Ceremony nails it.
As for Church of Misery, take a look at that album cover. You know what you’re getting into. To say that the band worships Black Sabbath fails to cover the extent of Church of Misery’s devotion. The only drawback with the Japanese band is that they are so practiced in the methods of their masters that they don’t stand quite as well on their own. It’s as though Church of Misery is covering Black Sabbath without actually performing any of the latter band’s songs. (Although “Cities of Flame” is actually a Blue Oyster Cult cover.)
Still, in the grand scheme, is having another Black Sabbath such a terrible thing? Church of Misery burns with the same kind of blues-based riff-blasted fire that made the boys from Birmingham such a hit so many decades ago. Just listen to “Megalomania” off of “Master of Brutality.” This is a piece steeped in the mysticism of doom tradition, trading musical or stylistic acuity for something that simply “feels right.”
Most of the songs on the two re-released Church of Misery efforts concern the subject of serial killers, but the lyrics are mostly secondary in importance to the music. Whatever property of music it is that makes up the highly variable definition of the word “groove,” this band owns that property beyond all dispute. Slow, mean and infectious, Church of Misery’s two albums embrace both the harsh and spacey elements that comprise so much of what we traditionally think of as stoner or doom metal.
While not as wildly creative as Blood Ceremony’s album, Church of Misery’s “Master of Brutality” and “The Second Coming” are must-listens for any fans of metal that is low but not lean, thick with the liquid ambiance of analog amps and wah-pedaled notes.
Metal Blade has done metal a service by bringing these albums back around. It was a good decision on their part, and as a fan, you shouldn’t miss this opportunity to stock up.