Review Summary: Hard to believe they could have followed up "Of Malice..." with such an amazing record... ..but they did.Misery Signals
during this record:
Karl Schubach - Vocals
Ryan Morgan - Guitar
Stuart Ross - Guitar
Kyle Johnson - Bass
Branden Morgan - Drums
Produced by Ben Schigel and Misery Signals
Engineered and Mixed by Ben Schigel at Spider Studios
Assistant Engineer Tony Gammalo
Original Release Date: August 22, 2006
Label as produced: Ferret Records
On Account of An Absence
So let me be the first one to jump the ship and have the approval of liking “Mirrors” better then the previous release “Of Malice and the Magnum Heart”. Following the departure of founding vocalist, Jesse Zaraska, I would say that Karl Schubach has changed the tone provided by Misery Signals at a vocal note. This isn’t a bad thing in my opinion, since yeah, the tough man thing is getting old, but he provides a more aggressive grasp at the reigns of a lifted musically powered band. On a side note I really don’t like it when a band continues under the same name when the founding member(s) have departed. It’s irrelevant but let’s face it, Poison the Well five years ago isn’t Poison The Well today. It’s like taking someone’s plan/idea and making it your own, but anyway… All I know is the short story behind “the new guy vocalist” is that he played guitar for a few bands locally and actually never did vocals before.
I’ve never seen Misery Signals live with Karl Schubach but on recording he’s right there. His voice is monstrous and relentless in it’s delivery. In my ears, kind of think a along the lines of Poison The Well - You Come Before You, Terror, and Remembering Never. On a musical stand point I don’t think the music comes as heavy as “Of Malice and the Magnum Heart” but it shows a lot more depth, atmosphere, and I’ll even bite my tongue to say ambience. Ryan Morgan the lead guitarist isn’t going to overpower anyone with technicality of his work but it’s more the innovative and excellent use of dissonance. There are songs that I’ve learned full through on guitar from this album and I really enjoy this guys creativeness. The drumming is once again stellar from his brother Branden Morgan, who when I saw seems to not be into the music at all but still kicks out the beats. I don’t mean to be such a downer about the bass but it’s really nothing as to flashy, but it still keeps it presence. The band feels like it’s crafted for perfection but how can you hold in such a overproduced genre?
1) Face Yourself - Oooowwwwwwwwwww.
That’s me doing the exact sound of how this album opens up. I hate to make fun of it but it kind of sounds like someone stepped on his toes. The song starts off heavy hitting on drums and guitar, and soon leads into that trademark Misery Signals guitar licks during the verses. This isn’t an interlude or an introduction to the bands new album but it’s more concentrated on wanting to rip your face off. Misery signals breakdown which its weird time signature and strumming patterns will alert everyone who was an avid fan before. This song definitely gets the ball moving as the first song… (8/10)
2) The Failsafe - This is the first single off of “Mirrors”. This song really sets itself on the album because I feel like it’s one of the best balances of melody and heaviness. The song starts off with a nice little drum solo over strummed “almost clean” chords. It is crushing, yet very melodic with it's clean passages. The guitar and drums easily shine it’s true sounds during this song and even the vocalist finds himself to pause on the tough man voice, and transitions to an almost talking voice. I loved how this song always comes back to that intro drumming pattern and breaks down into this heavy circle. Dawn brings Revenge. (9/10)
3) Post Collapse - This song starts off in similar crushing fashion as “Face Yourself”. This song definitely brought it’s chops and it’s nose is sticking up at the listeners face. This was a song where I really enjoyed the intuitive of guitar. The vocals really feel relentless throughout and the song is guided by the mood changes/pace of the guitar. (8/10)
4) Migrate - Okay I kind of feel like this song sounds exactly like Hopesfall. The song is soft and feels very weak after hearing a song like “Post Collapse”. The introduction sounds something exactly out of Hopes fall - The Satellite Years. It’s something different from this bands original style and it doesn’t really appeal but it doesn’t exactly shut me down totally either. (6/10)
5) One Day I’ll Stay Home - Now Misery Signals has come back into full form. The intro has a pretty weird time signature but sounds gritty nonetheless. The song goes through it’s typical mood changes where it’s loud ; soft transitioning and pacing. The talking vocals really turned me off to this song because they just felt out of place. They aren’t like the talking vocals in the previous songs or even in “Of Malice and Magnum Heart”. The song still retains a lot of power through it’s concrete musicianship. The guitar halfway through will wind you up and down with it’s octave chords. Once again those annoying vocals come at the interlude that makes me want to fall head first out of a window. (7/10)
6) Something Was Always Missing, But It Was Never You - The song starts off so soft and sincere but blows up in your face. The song layout is different from most of the other one’s and takes another shot at the “Migrate” idea. As the vocals are monstrous the instruments take on a more melodic approach most of the time. I’m actually astonished that the fact the bass has a solo interlude on this song. It lasts for about 30 seconds, and it fits pretty sexy because 10 seconds into it the guitar begins a solo too. I feel like this song kind of wanders without any intent until the end where it feels like it finds a place. (8/10)
7) Reverence Lost - It’s heavy and hard hitting like “Face Yourself” but it finds its melodic “talking” parts. If you aren’t familiar with Misery Signals it seems like instead of having a singer and a screamer like most bands, they perform there melodic parts through music with vocals being talked out instead of screamed. I don’t really have much to gripe about that, and it works well on some lyrical stand points but it can get a little corny. The guitars and drums bounce off each other so well throughout this song. I really enjoyed the ending to this song. (8/10)
8) Sword Of Eyes - This is my favorite song off of “Mirrors”. This is the song that pulled my interest back into this album when at first listens I couldn’t appreciate it, because of the changes made. The musicianship bleeds in this song and I really love how every part turned out. Now I can talk all day about trademark sounds and other crap but this song doesn’t get justice unless you give it a full listen try. There just has to be something here that you appreciate.
All I think about when I listen to this song is the crescendo near the outro with the octave chords. Every time I hear it, I rewind it and listen to it over again. As a musician, this is what I want to do. (10/10)
9) An Offering to the Insatiable Sons of God (Butcher) - This is the song I like the least off of “Mirrors”. I have no idea where the title came from, it feels like it came out of left field. It’s a sluggish, slow, build up, throughout. This song really didn’t hold a shot because from listening the album throughout, the only thing that doesn’t stop me from skipping this seconds in is the fact I like listening to an album in order fully. The song never really seizes to climax and it just doesn’t feel like anything amazing. It just feels slow and short tempered. The guitar solo near 3 minutes is quite awesome but it’s nowhere near the price of admission of having to sit through the first 3 minutes. (6/10)
10) Anchor - The introducing riff is my favorite riff off the album. It just feels so diverse and it’s so simple. The song is really fast paced once again and if you missed it the first time, after the first verse, it’s repeated again with a variation. This is the song I would recommend for fans of the old Misery Signals who hasn’t heard the new. The breakdowns in this song have more meaning for me then in any other song on this album. I can’t quite for my finger on why, but the lyrics are pretty awesome that go along with this song. The guitars during the end of the song just branch away from the rest of the band and go places… It’s what makes this band one of my favorites in the genre. (10/10)
11) Mirrors - This is the longest track on the album, almost double the time of the other songs. It’s hard for me to get used to this song because there are parts I like in it, other parts not so much. The good parts give me a good
enough reason to listen to all of this song. The song really does a good job summing up a lot of the other songs on the album taking parts that made them good, and at other points… bad. It feels like the song didn’t need over 7 minutes to be epic. (8/10)
Few bands can turn adversity on its head the way Misery Signals has. I mean I find myself still listening to this album today and the album packs a lot of “staying power”. The songs that are good are really good and the songs that don’t exactly really hold up seem more experimental than anything. I could only imagine how close this album would be to a 5 if they took out “An Offering to the Insatiable Sons of God”, and “Migrate” and replaced them with, I guess faster and heavier songs. It’s a bad scene to say something like that but I really do think that this band excels the same way Poison The Well and Hopesfall excels. The loud ; soft, the heavy; melodic, contrasting that these bands do drive such a force for sincerity. Yeah most people in this genre can love a fast and heavy song, but not everyone can cope with these slow long drawn out processed songs. After all when over 75% of the songs are moderately heavy, why would you want to disrupt the flow. It fuels on songs after the slow ones when you got to sit through it, but half the time I’ll skip it just knowing the pace will stay at somewhat of an equilibrium.
I know Misery Signals has had a successful transition but it may not be that way in everyone’s eyes. I loved “Of Malice and the Magnum Heart” but I wasn’t a real fan of that vocal style. The talking in that album seemed cornier than it is here, but the screams are totally different. I don’t want to admit to it but a lot of people will call Misery Signals hardcore just for the type of vocals they have now. Before I doubt anyone really called Misery Signals hardcore as much too just metal with that graspy, throat, screams that sounded like hell coming out of an angry kids mouth. I truly hold in my mind that “Mirrors” is a better album, and a better attempt if you say as a new band. I hope I supported my cause…
+ Will appeal easily to a lot of people who like the genre, but wont necessarily fit the cliché of it.
- Some of these vocals, especially the talking ones just are weak
- Bass, where are you?