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Church Of Misery - "Master of Brutality (Reissue)" (CD)

Church Of Misery - "Master of Brutality (Reissue)" CD cover image

"Master of Brutality (Reissue)" track listing:

1. Killfornia (Ed Kemper)
2. Ripping Into Pieces (Peter Sutcliffe)
3. Megalomania (Herbert Mullin)
4. Green River (Instrumental)
5. Cities on Flame (Blue Öyster Cult cover)
6. Master of Brutality (John Wayne Gacy)
7. Boston Strangler (Albert de Salvo) (Bonus Track)
8. Candy Man (Dean Corll) (Bonus Track)
9. Lucifer Rising (Live) (Bonus Track)

Reviewed by on February 20, 2012

"'Master of Brutality' has an excellent production and yields many catchy tunes; however, like the sludge bands that joined the group on several split albums, their songs tend to become repetitive."

Church of Misery has an album output longer than the list of bodies left behind by serial killer Gary Ridgway aka “The Green River Killer.” In fact, Church of Misery put Japan on the map for serial-killer-themed stoner/doom metal, if not the rest of the world. Let’s face it: fat, Sabbath-inspired grooves and psychedelic boogies aren’t exactly the musical vehicle for expressing a love for sociopathic murder.

This subject matter finds normalcy in the death metal community, especially in the quirky tunes of Macabre. It’s not like it hasn’t worked for Church of Misery, though; the group is a major player in the realm of the Black-Sabbath-worshipping throng. Fans who know that the sound Black Sabbath created didn’t die when Ozzy left probably recognize the name Church of Misery.

Cathedral’s Lee Dorian has always possessed an ear for macabre-shrouded jams, so it comes as no surprise when Dorian announced re-releasing “Master of Brutality” and “The Second Coming,” Church of Misery’s initial full-lengths. “Master of Brutality” was originally issued by Southern Lord records in 2001 and re-issued by the criminally under-recognized Japanese stoner/doom label Leafhound Records. Dorian has found the band’s biggest audience through his Metal-Blade distributed Rise Above imprint. Even though this is the third go-about for “Master of Brutality,” this version contains three bonus tracks—“Boston Strangler (Albert de Salvo),” “Candy Man (Dean Corll),” and a live track, “Lucifer Rising.”

An album containing hymns to infamous ghoulish figures such as John Wayne Gacy and the Boston Strangler is not exactly Wal-Mart-ready material. However, take away the clips pertaining to the heinous crimes of each killer, lyrics and song titles, and you have tremendously heavy, proto-metal/heavy blues jams that wouldn’t be out of place on a classic rock radio station. Church of Misery’s music stays upbeat, never dwelling in the abysmal depths of Cathedral. Yoshiaki Negishi’s gruff voice does not approach the esophagus-scraping harshness of sludge singers, but it takes a close listen to decipher his nightmarish lyrics. Psychedelic elements, such as those found on the fitting aquatic-sounding effects of “Green River,” are akin to hearing Charlie Manson spiel off doomsday scenarios with happy-hippy music blaring in the background.

Fans of Church of Misery probably have an earlier copy of “Master of Brutality.” The bonus tracks are good, but aren’t originals. The group’s glorification of murders will turn away some fans of heavy rock, but bring in fans of more extreme forms. “Master of Brutality” has an excellent production and yields many catchy tunes; however, like the sludge bands that joined the group on several split albums, their songs tend to become repetitive.

Highs: Psychedlic effects, ultra-heavy bottom end, catchy grooves

Lows: There isn't enough change, so the rhythms tend to drag.

Bottom line: Not the best stoner/doom album, but certainly worth hearing if you like this style.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)