Church of Misery & Guests
27th July 2014
Review and Photography by Ashlinn Nash
The underworld is no stranger to having a plethora of bands grace its intimate stage and surroundings with tonight’s focus turning its hand to the doom and sludge variety. Headlining this evening are the cosmically acclaimed Church of Misery mid journey from their homeland of Japan, joining them are home grown attributes ; Slabdragger [from Croydon] and openers ; Wolfshead [from Hampshire].
Without further a do three-piece Wolfshead [4/5] arrive on stage with a bit of a re-arrangement from this years Desertfest, not only venue wise [having played the Black Heart previously] but also the bands line up shift, moving Leigh from Bass and Vocal duties and putting his raw energy behind the drum kit instead. As a new bassist joined them on stage [Mark Roberts] who brought a new flair and mixed things up a bit while still keeping a undeniable crunch to the rhythmic section
The set encompassed their current releases; Self titled EP [released March 2012] or Single “Sword of Fire [released September 2012]. The mood for the set chosen for the evening was heavily focused on making it have a deeper, sludgier sound that resonated around the walls of the underworld and drew attention to their effective stage presence. That re-sparked energy into the crowd that had been worn out by the sun drench of the day.
The show from the band over all had punches of chugging riffs, an overall sound that lay somewhere between Clutch and Mastodon having a chance meeting with a tempo warper. Highlights included the doom Ginger Baker drum sounds, clever distribution of vocals ranges over the two front men – similar to that found in the Melvins.
Up next are SlabDragger [3.5/5] the luxuriously heavy three piece, who don’t waste any time getting stuck in to their groove. Combining a minimal vocal outage from dual front man Sam [vocals/guitars] and emphasis mainly on Yusuf [bassist and vocalist] to take the wheel.
Working through a set that was inclusive of tracks from January 2013 release ; “Regress”. With a punkier edge to the set, there are moments when the new sound doesn’t transpire as well as it could do, but with the occasional burst of flamboyance from the dark depths of sludge-esque vocals from Sam, who has been playing in bands for nearly 15 years and having recorded in over 100 bands is no stranger to making a show work and swiftly makes up for the change within Slabdragger.
Overall towards the end of the set the punking up of vocals over a rumbling bass, slow and churning riffs and Godzilla stomping drums seemed to work in favour and created a new sound for the band.
Church of Misery [4.5/5] have arrived to a screaming maze of beer and anticipation before them, the band still in the flourish of musical excitement of “Thy Kingdom Scum” [released 2013] they have been globe trotting and alike with fellow bill sharers performed at this years Desertfest.
The crowd where ready and willing to be taken on the journey that falls somewhere between history and insane with a set inclusive of such memorable killers as Dennis Rader, whose song “B.T.L” is appropriately titled. As well as Richard Speck’s “Born to raise hell”a track which is the bands most anthem worthy tune. All encased and delivered with a gripping, catchy and energetic performance that captivated the raw sonic propulsion of their message.
A set that would not be over without plenty of traumatically unsettling wheers and wizzes, created with vocal alternations, expansive keyboards experimentalism that then broke into slick and well oiled almost clean guitar work, which naturally gained disturbance again with a power play that was a full on celebration of Iommi. By the end of their set the audiences ears where punched, bruised and a little intimated by the sonic delights.
There seems to be something of a delicacy with Church of Misery an outfit who combine their corrupt lyrical delights that fall between madness and brilliance and solid enjoyment of the heavy fuzz that can be surroundings for it. Tonight’s gig has been no different with a crowd of old and new fans before them, all leaving with an impression upon them mainly one that involves it being stuck on replay in the minds of every witness – after all they where born to raise Hell!