Japanese doom mentalists Church Of Misery last played Manchester just two months prior to this trip at the more intimate Star and Garter. The atmosphere at that gig has become something of a legend and it is impossible that a better doom gig will take place this year.
The hype surrounding their previous show made anticipation for their return understandably high with a reputation as a fierce live prospect already in place.
As with that last gig a quite mixed bag of supports padded out the bill. Openers PIST have grown quite a loyal following in Manchester and it easy to see why with their boogie heavy hard rock very easy to absorb.
PIST’s admiration for NOLA ‘supergroup’ Down is evident in everything from their Kirk Windstein esque riffs to the hostile stage performance of vocalist Dave Rowlands. For some unexplainable reason this style of music is particularly popular in Manchester and as a result PIST got a deservedly positive reaction on the night.
Followers Sedulus unfortunately failed to capitalise on this, having to play to a quite sparse crowd from the opening note. Their at times experimental take on ‘stoner’ rock seemed to be well thought out and although they clearly put in effort they seemed, ultimately, out of place on the bill.
The room filled up quickly for Church Of Misery who brought a very respectable crowd for a Monday night. Where most doom bands tend to be laid back in the live setting, Church Of Misery proved the opposite with a very intense and harrowing atmosphere being created from their ferociously heavy riffs.
As always, sole surviving original member and bassist Tatsu Mikami is the driving force behind the band, bringing a rough and volatile edge to their sound. This performance was complemented by the powerful vocals of Hideki Fukasawa who took on the serial killer persona that the band focus all their lyrics on with serious conviction.
The headliners had a strong back catalogue to choose from but it’s when they played select numbers from 2009’s ‘Houses of the Unholy’ that they got their most energetic response. ‘Born to Raise Hell’ was the definite highlight of the night sending the crowd into an inferno rarely seen at doom shows.
Closing with a powerful and sweat drenched take on Blue Oyster Cult’s ‘Cities on Flame (With Rock and Roll),’ Church Of Misery showed why they are up there with the most reliable and distinctive live acts in doom.
Scribed by: Alex Varley
Photos by: Phil Jenkins