It’s been somewhat quiet on the Misery Index front these past few years. Indeed the US deathgrind quartet’s previous release The Killing Gods, which I am still blasting to this day, was released five years ago already, and that’s a long time to stay gone in this scene. Now they’re finally back with a new record called Rituals of Power, released through Season of Mist on February 8, 2019.
Has the wait paid off? Let’s have a listen, shall we?
After my first session my opinion on Rituals of Power was somewhat divided. Literally. I felt as though the first half was a hesitation on the band’s part as to what direction to take. Should the record boast more grindcore influences like the previous one, or should they have a go at a more death/thrash approach? It’s still full on death metal at heart of course, but I couldn’t for the life of me make out what Misery Index were trying to achieve.
The groovy The Choir Invisible or Hammering the Nails are fine examples of tracks that had me biased at first. The latter is one for the more death/thrash-seasoned metalhead.
If you pay close attention to the opening of this track you’l find that Misery Index don’t limit themselves to thrashy grooves or grindcore slams. Rituals of Power is strewn with that typical The Black Dahlia Murder-esque melodic riffing. The songs sometimes veer off into deep melodeath, which I adore.
On the other hand, the band do stay true to themselves. The last track of the album will serve as the best example if you were expecting more influences on the grindcore side of things. Short ‘n sweet, Naysayer is an absolute delight for those who thoroughly enjoyed the overall atmos of The Killing Gods.
In the end, I think I simply needed to keep my expectations in check and go with the flow. That’s precisely what I did during my second listening. The album made much more sense as I glided through the tracks. By the third listen, I all but wondered where my doubts originated in the first place.
1. Those legendary choruses. Don’t ask me what Mark Kloeppel and Jason Netherton are singing during the verses because I would immediately redirect you to the booklet, should you feel like studying them by heart. The choruses however are incredibly easy to remember and fun sing along to. I recall almost every single one of them and I am looking forward to sing them boisterously the next time Misery Index play in Belgium, which coincidentally will be on April 5 (more info here). I can already hear the audience bellowing “WE ARE DISPOSABLE, THE CHOIR INVISIBLE” or banging their heads while yelling out “NEW SALEM”. Oh boy, is it April yet?
2. By far the best song on the album is I Disavow. Misery Index got everything right on this one. It is fast, the guitars howl, the drums blast and the vocals are aggressive as hell.
3. The outstanding recording quality and mastering…
And the ugly
1. …but I’m not that big a fan of the snare sound. It works during blast beats, but it doesn’t do much for me anywhere else.
2. To end at the beginning, I will mention Universal Untruths. The opening track and ugly duckling which is much slower than the rest of the record. It’s not that bad, but it lacks the energy contained in the rest of the album. It’s as tough Misery Index wanted to eliminate the less than eager listeners, and reward the ones who stick around with the next eight tracks. I felt as tough it dragged a little, and that scared me. I really didn’t want to be disappointed here. This song was undoubtedly at the root of my misgivings during my first play-through.
3. That album cover, man. I just don’t like the design, and the colour scheme is rather bland. The band’s logo even seems to disappear in the background. As opposed to their music, I’ve never found Misery Index album covers to be that appealing. This one resembles an old school death metal design for an album which at first glance doesn’t seem to know which direction it’s headed in.
So has the wait paid off?
Yes, but some people may need a few spins before they really get into it, as was the case with me. It might hopefully even attract people from other directions, who never really paid any attention to Misery Index before. How that would be possible is beyond me, but I don’t judge. I feel satisfied although I hope the next album will be even better.
Release date: February 8th, 2019
Label: Season of Mist
1. Universal Untruths
2. Decline and Fall
3. The Choir Invisible
4. New Salem
5. Hammering the Nails
6. Rituals of Power
7. They Always Come Back
8. I Disavow
9. Naysayer (2:26)