Church of Misery
A respected 70s rooted Doom band founded in 1996 by bassist Tatsu Mikami, an ex member of Thrash Metal band SALEM, and guitarist Tomohiro Nishimura. Making up the band numbers would be singer Nobukazu Chow and drummer Hideki Shimizu. CHURCH OF MISERY dwell lyrically almost obsessively on the subject of serial killers but show their obvious debt of gratitude to 70s Rock with frequent cover versions. Apparently the band has made a solemn vow never to defile their ‘Sanctuary’ by attempting a BLACK SABBATH cover version!
Three tracks were donated to the all Japanese compilation album ‘Doomsday Recitation’ issued by Cornucopia Records during January of 1998. However, many fans of the band abroad would be fooled into purchasing ‘Volume 1’, a 1997 release through Doom Records culled from a 1996 Tokyo show and including a cover of GUN’s ‘Race With The Devil’. The album was projected to be an official release but then shelved, the Doom Records version being a bootleg.
CHURCH OF MISERY recorded a split CD with ‘Born Too Late’ Canadians SHEAVY, the sleeve of which depicted the notorious 'Nightstalker' killer Richard Ramirez, which reaped further international exposure. The band included their version of ‘War Is Our Destiny’ by ST. VITUS and the album cover artwork also spoofed BLACK SABBATH’s ‘Born Again’.
The same year CHURCH OF MISERY weighed in with the ‘Taste The Pain’ EP through Bad Acid Records. As well as three tracks chronicling the exploits of infamous serial killers- ‘Room 213’ Jeffrey Dahmer, ‘Taste The Pain’ Graham Young and ‘Plainfield’ Ed Gein, the band topped off the whole affair with a rendition of IRON BUTTERFLY’s seminal ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’. A further split release arrived in the form of a shared album with Nottingham’s short-lived but influential IRON MONKEY. A split live tape also emerged, ‘Live From The East’ being in alliance with fellow Japanese Doomsters MILLARCA.
CHURCH OF MISERY contributed ‘Sick Of Living (Zodiac)’ to the ‘Stone Deaf Forever’ compilation album. The band has also laid down covers by DEATH S.S. 'Chains Of Death', TROUBLE's 'Come Touch The Sky' and BLACK WIDOW's 'Accident' for tribute albums.
The band signed to Southern Lord Records for the February 2001 ‘Master Of Brutality’ release, this album witnessing new members vocalist Yoshiaki Negishi and drummer Junji Narita. Another 70s cover version was naturally the order of the day for this release, CHURCH OF MISERY tackling BLUE OYSTER CULT’s ‘Cities On Flame’. Typically the remainder of the songs were devoted to mass murderers such as John Wayne Gacy, Herbery Mullin, Peter Sutcliffe, Ed Kemper and the Green River killer.
CHURCH OF MISERY members operate various sidelines. Both Mikami and Negishi are members of Hardcore Rock n’ Roll act G.A.T.E.S. in collusion with Masahiro Futatsugi, guitarist with Crustcore band LIFE and ex-SLOGG drummer Fukawa. Another project of Mikami’s is SONIC FLOWER, a 70s influenced Hard Rock band featuring BUCKET-T drummer Katarao. The bassist has also teamed up with Industrial band LONG DREAM DEAD. Negishi is also busy with COFFINS, a side band featuring members of Sludge band DOT(.).
The Game Two label released archive tracks during 2003 as part of a split album shared with extinct Welsh Stoners ACRIMONY. Later that same year Finnish label Kult Of Nihilow issued the 'Boston Strangler' EP. A July 2004 compilation entitled 'Early Works Compilation' and issued through Leaf Hound Records collected together all of the band's pre 'Master Of Brutality' recordings, adding an unreleased track 'Retal (Howard Unruh)'.
CHURCH OF MISERY allied itself with SOURVEIN for UK and European concerts throughout October 2006.
Formed in 2008, Earthen Grave is a six-piece Chicago metal band that marries the sounds of metal past and future with a sweaty, pummeling live show. Bassist Ron Holzner served a 15-year sentence with Chicago doom legends Trouble and Rachel Barton Pine brings her frightening classical chops to a relatively new instrument, the Viper. Finding groups like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Saint Vitus, Trouble, Pentagram, Candlemass and Slayer to be common influences, the band wrote and played shows around Chicago for the first half of 2009, culminating in the release of the“Dismal Times” EP in June. Featuring three original songs that meld classic, crunchy doom and NWOBHM vibes with a solid dose of thrashy bludgeoning alongside covers of two choice doom classics by Pentagram and Witchfinder General, the EP was hailed by critics as “astounding,” and “pure, head-banging bliss” (MaximumMetal.com) and prompted Doommantia.com to write, “Can’t wait till the band gives us a full length with all originals...they have all the songwriting capabilities to make one of the best albums ever.”