Review Summary: A Metalcore album actually deserving of it's praise.
Misery Signals was a band born of two tragedies, hence the name the first and lesser of the two was the break-up of melodic Metalcore pioneers 7 Angels 7 Plagues, which was relatively unforeseen due to the band’s rise in popularity after the release of their full length debut. The other tragedy was the death of Jesse Zaraska’s (Former 7a7p vocalist) band mates in his current project Compromise. As such Ryan Morgan and Kyle Johnson (Guitarist and Bassist for 7a7p respectively) created a new band with Zaraska on vocals.
What they created was an exceptional band and possibly the closest thing to a second 7a7p full length. Keeping that in mind Misery Signals still has their own sound, combining heavy chugging guitar sections with occasional meldoic sections, which they would expand on in later releases the band provides a solid performance including enough variance within tracks to differentiate them so as not to grow stale.
Throughout the album the drumming patterns are both interesting and consistent, with Branden Morgan providing an impressive performance throughout, the only downside to the instrumental side of the record being the weak bass that often disappears in the heavier sections. The overall sound on the album could be compared to Shai Hulud specifically their album “That Within Blood Ill-Tempered” of course the band are hardly rip-offs and maintain originality throughout the album.
Of course the focal point of the album is undoubtedly Jesse Zaraska; his harsh vocals are filled with an intense rage that permeates the music. His message of sorrow and feelings of pain are captured perfectly through the discordance. The most impressive vocal performance however, is “Difference of Vengeance and Wrongs” courtesy of Byron Jay Ellis. Of course the vocal performance isn’t perfect with several annoying spoken word passages appearing throughout the album accompanied by equally cheesy lyrics.
Production wise the album is a cross between their future efforts Controller and Mirrors. With Devin Townsend producing the album has a polished yet raw feeling to it. Zaraska’s voice is layered appropriately in certain sections specifically the album closer’s Chorus and Bridge. The instruments remain a unit without blending together and overall the sound is crisp without being sterile.
The biggest thorn in the band’s side is the meatier riffs constantly chugging along with their purpose being solely to “Bring the Mosh”. Outside of that there isn’t really a lot to bring the album down. The spoken word segements seem a tad unnecessary and the chugging can get annoying but outside of that the band is near flawless. However, the album definitely isn’t for everyone, many listeners will probably be turned off by the harsh vocals and chug-centric riffs. The lack of melodic guitar parts compared to their later work may also bother some people.
Outside of those few discrepancies the album is probably the best of Misery Signals’ efforts. Again, the band isn’t as varied as they are on later albums but this isn’t a particularly big downside and some may even enjoy the more stripped down style over the more layered melodic work of the later albums. All in all Of Malice and the Magnum Heart is one of the better melodic Metalcore albums that definitely showcase the genre at its best.