Sunday 18 June 2023

Church Of Misery - Born Under A Mad Sign (Album Review)

Release Date: June 16th 2023. Record Label: Rise Above Records. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Born Under A Mad Sign: Tracklisting

01. Beltway Sniper (John Allen Muhammad) (8:44)

02. Most Evil (Fritz Harmann) (9:48)

03. Freeway Madness Boogie (Randy Kraft) (6:06)

04. Murder Castle Blues (H.H. Holmes) (7:58)

05. Spoiler (5:42)

06. Come And Get Me Sucker (David Koresh) (6:48)

07. Butcher Baker (Robert Hansen) (8:19)


Tatsu Mikami - Bass

Kazuhiro Asaeda - Vocals

Toshiaki Umemura - Drums


Japanese Doom/Stoner Metal legends Church Of Misery return with their new album Born Under A Mad Sign and sees the band return to winning ways after their lacklustre album And Then There Were None. This is the Church Of Misery that I expected and wanted on that album but sadly never received. 

Born Under A Mad Sign sees the band return to the classic sound heard on their 2009 release Houses Of The Unholy with a wide range of serial killers (though some subjects could be considered absolute monsters) being the basis for the creative themes for the album. Church Of Misery also become very politically outspoken on certain parts of the album with a sense of jet black humour heard throughout the album.

The music is the classic mix Doom. Stoner, Psych, Blues and Fuzz grooves with a more steely persona heard within the hard-hitting opening track Beltway Sniper (John Allen Muhammad) making all the right moves with heavy-pounding FUZZED UP sounds leading the way. There’s more reliance on good old fashioned storytelling with this track and for the whole album as well. The subject matter may not be to everyone’s tastes but Church Of Misery have been doing this for the best part of thirty years now and they’re not going to change direction now. 

Beltway Sniper (John Allen Muhammad) showcases why Church Of Misery are one of the legendary bands within the Doom/Stoner Metal scene. The song is blissfully seedy and violently heavy with it’s SABBATHIAN based Down-tuned grooves which Church Of Misery have also become known as one of the true innovators of the modern day scene.

Second song Most Evil (Fritz Harmann) moves from the USA to Germany for its choice of subject with the music becoming slightly seedier and heavier along the way. The instrumental sounds are BASS HEAVY with Sludgy guitars and drumming taking the first few moments of the track before Kazuhiro Asaeda masterful vocals offering a grizzled performance and outlining the dark themes of the track. The song has a more menacing approach with the different styles of Sludge Rock starting to appear. There’s a few moments of Psychedelic freakout which morphs into a gloomier style of Blues Rock with the band showcasing their Doom Metal roots.

Third song Freeway Madness Boogie (Randy Kraft) sees the band return to the USA for the next subject and it opens with a horrifying news clip about Randy Kraft. The music returns to a demented style of Boogie Rock like the title suggests. This is one of the catchiest tracks on the album with Church Of Misery offering a more 1970’s Classic Hard Rock delivery but with flashes of Heavy Doomed Out Stoner Rock. The vocals are wickedly entertaining and you can’t help but rock out in agreement with the music currently being played. 

Fourth song Murder Castle Blues (H.H. Holmes) features a 19th Century Serial Killer from Chicago who has meant to have killed upto nine people and I wasn’t familiar with this person nor do I want to know either. Maybe, I should have researched more to gain a greater understanding for this song. However, I decided by now just to enjoy the album and let Church Of Misery continue with their intense blend of Down-Tuned and Fuzzed Up Stoner Metal. This is one of my favourite tracks on the album with Church Of Misery playing music that goes back to their early days with an aggressive attitude and soulful sludgy grooves having that OUTLAWS edge that made them legends within the scene. Perhaps not the heaviest track on the album but one that features some of the best extended instrumental jams on the album.

Fifth song Spoiler sees the band move away from the Serial Killer arena and play a wicked style of 1970’s ROCK N ROLL with a killer soulful Blues Rock attitude. There's still moments of Doom/Stoner Metal madness but it’s good to see Church Of Misery flex their creative talents for a different style of music.

The final two songs Come And Get Me Sucker (David Koresh) and Butcher Baker (Robert Hansen) sees Church Of Misery offer their most sinister sounding grooves on the album which isn’t surprising based on the subject matters being used for the track.

Come And Get Me Sucker (David Koresh) opens with a politically charged statement about the whole American love affair with Gun Culture. I’m not going to make any personal statements on that but this part of the song really hammers the point home. 

The band soon gets straight down to business of playing their trademark style of Doom/Stoner Metal for these final tracks with more Progressive sounds being included for a short while especially within Butcher Baker (Robert Hansen).

Born Under A Mad Sign is one of the most daring, politically charged and most outstanding releases Church Of Misery have released in years. If you’re a fan of albums such as Master Of Brutality, The Second Coming and Houses Of The Unholy then Born Under A Mad Sign is right up there with being one of the best albums Church Of Misery have released to date.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Sure Shot Worx for the promo.

Born Under A Mad Sign is available to buy now on CD/DD/Vinyl via Rise Above Records.


Official | Facebook | Instagram