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Monday 21 August 2023

A View From The Back Of The Room: Eyehategod & Church Of Misery (Live Review By Richard Oliver)

Eyehategod & Church Of Misery, The Fleece, Bristol, 15.08.23

Doom, stoner and sludge metal shows always seem to do well in Bristol with these subgenres of metal having a big following in the city. This was certainly the case for this show which was completely sold out with The Fleece absolutely crammed full and boiling hot.

Unlike the previous two shows, there was no local support which was a lost opportunity for an up and coming band to get their music exposed to a good audience which meant a lengthy wait for the first band to hit the stage which definitely benefited the bar takings at The Fleece as a metal crowd does like to drink. Opening up the show were the tour support - Japanese doom metallers Church Of Misery (8). These are one of the best doom metal bands going in my humble opinion and despite having been going since 1995, they don’t have a massive following in this part of the world outside of doom and stoner metal circles. 

The band have not long released their new album Born Under A Mad Sign and there were a few songs lifted off said album as well as a handful of tunes from the band's discography. Despite all their songs being named after and lyrically all about serial killers, Church Of Misery pack a severe amount of groove which got the crowd moving. Frontman Kazuhiro Asaeda also got in on the action waving his hands through the air and riding the waves of groove which his fellow bandmates blasted out with a barrage of Sabbath-esque riffs and solos from Fumiya Hattori and groovy psychedelic bass lines from the sole original member of the band Tatsu Mikami whilst drummer Toshiaki Umemura kept everything together. 

The sound engineer for the evening really knew their craft as the band sounded absolutely perfect with songs such as Come And Get Me Sucker (David Koresh) and Born To Raise Hell (Richard Speck) shaking the venue to its foundations whilst also sounding crystal clear. There were a few in attendance this evening who were new to the Church Of Misery experience but by the end of their set the band had definitely earned a lot of new fans.

As soon as the headliners Eyehategod (9) walked onto the stage you could feel the anticipation building and the hunger of the crowd growing in intensity. The NOLA sludge legends initially jammed to make sure that everything was sounding perfect before frontman Mike Williams greeted the crowd and a wall of feedback and distortion rang out and lingered leaving everyone waiting with baited breath for the music to start and things to erupt. And erupt they certainly did. For the entirety of the set, the front of the crowd were throwing themselves around without care or abandon whilst there was also a steady stream of crowd surfers and stage divers which the band seemed to appreciate. 

The music was the acerbic and unhinged sludge metal which is Eyehategod’s calling card with guitarist Jimmy Bower ripping out riffs that were equally biting and vicious as well as having that unmistakable NOLA groove whilst bassist Gary Mader and drummer Aaron Hill pounding out those deranged and unpredictable rhythms. Mike was in fine form with his deranged and tortured screams adding to the levels of aggression that his bandmates were bringing forth and he is a great frontman to watch who is really in the zone and in the moment when on stage. It was the anniversary of the bands seminal Take As Needed For Pain album so we were treated to some tunes from that as well as others that were dug out of the discography such as Jack Ass In The Will Of God, Every Thing, Every Day and Agitation Propaganda which really got the crowd going for it. 

 After a brief departure from the stage the band returned for an encore of Lack Of Almost Everything and Dixie Whiskey giving the crowd one last opportunity to unleash chaos on each other. I’ve seen Eyehategod perform plenty of times but this was probably the finest show I’ve seen them play to date with the sound engineer again ensuring that the band sounded perfect and a band and audience that were equally up for it. It was a fine evening of music and a fine reminder of why Eyehategod have such a loyal following. I expected to enjoy Church Of Misery more tonight being my preferred band on record but Eyehategod just absolutely smashed

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