Review Summary: Echoes of the past
Formed in 2001 by two former Dying Fetus members just as a studio project to record the debut EP Overthrow
, Misery Index quickly gained solid form and two years later recorded their first full-length Retaliate
, which received considerable praise in underground deathgrind circles. The band's sound had obvious similarities with Dying Fetus, but the approach was slightly more core-ish and less brutal, which was enough to keep some safe distance from their fellow Baltimoreans.
, the band has released four albums and several EPs, solidifying Misery Index as one of the most reliable acts of the extreme metal scene. All albums have their own story and context, however Heirs To Thievery
and The Killing Gods
are probably the best link to Rituals of Power
, since both have been released this decade and are thus in closer contact with the new album, in style and form. If Heirs To Thievery
represented to many (myself included) the band's peak, with its relentless but quite catchy no filler all killer approach, The Killing Gods
featured a more melodic and thrashy side, being Misery Index's most diverse and ambitious work to date.
So what was the starting point for Rituals of Power
, Heirs To Thievery
fastest, relentless approach or the more stylish and melodic territory of the previous album？
I have some difficulty answering, since Rituals of Power
, seems something that wasn't deeply planned or substantiated in a concise musical idea, but rather a more organic and spontaneous product from the band's rehearsals. It seems a contradiction, since the slow-paced opener "Universal Untruths" seems to indicate that the band will pursue a new, more vintage and charismatic approach, something quickly countered by the following songs which despite more interesting moments, such as "The Choir Invisible" powerful chorus or "New Salem" trashy hook, don't bring anything truly new, being a relatively predictable recycling of the band's previous material. Truth be told, I wasn't expecting groundbreaking stuff either, that's not what I look for in Misery Index, but I sincerely expected something fresher and less formulaic. That being said, Rituals of Power
isn't by any means uninteresting or something that should be ignored, Misery Index, even without being at its best, still manages to be better than most bands within the genre, and songs like "Universal Untruths", "The Choir Invisible", "New Salem", "I Disavow" or "Naysayer" have enough strength to cause chaos in any decent mosh pit. All well-known elements are still present, the contrast between the frantic and the groove, the catchy crossover riffs that swing between metal and hardcore or the raging, but always perceptible, vocals, without neglecting Adam Jarvis' performance who remains one of the most exciting drummers around, being among the album's highlights, as expected.
At the end of the day, Rituals of Power
will not go down in history as one of the band's best moments, but it certainly will not diminish the rich legacy Misery Index has given us over the years.