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Misery Index – Rituals Of Power- Album Review 9/10 \m/

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Rituals Of Power

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 Out 03/08/2019

Track listing:

  • Universal Truths
  • Decline and Fall
  • The Choir Invisible
  • New Salem
  • Hammering the Nails
  • Rituals of Power
  • They always come back
  • I Disavow
  • Naysayer
  • Wasting Away (Nailbomb cover)
  • Man Of Your Dreams ( M.O.D. cover Feat. Rob Barret III)

By definition , the misery index is an economic indicator. One created by economist Arthur Okun. The index helps measure how the average citizen is doing economically and it is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. It is based on the assumption that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation create economic and social costs for a country. The band also gets their name from the 1997 Assück album by the same Name.

This album is an absolute crusher, much like Misery Index’s previous albums it has  blunt thought provoking lyrical content about the world we live in.  There is something unique about this album though, feels like they are playing not just heavier but deeper. They aren’t littering the tracks with polarizing blast beats, and they also have two cover songs; Wasting Away (Nailbomb cover) and Man of your Dreams (M.O.D. – Method of Destruction cover feat @Rob Barrett Iii of Cannibal Corpse). This is something we have not really gotten from Misery Index since the Discordia album. Now don’t get me wrong, that does not mean this is an album to pass on. I will argue that there is no such musical release by this powerhouse of a band worth passing on. They have come a long way since tracks like Angst Isst Die Seele Auf off of Retaliate. Rituals of Power boasts big sound, and the blend of death grind, with such noticeable groove is actually quite pleasing to the ears. I love blast beats and fast tempos, but Misery Index proves that it is not all about blast beats these days.  For review, I am only covering the nine songs that are not covers. However, it is worth mentioning that they do an absolute killer job on the cover tracks.

Universal truths-  This is a borderline introductory track. It starts out with the guitars and drums playing a slightly dissonant style, slowly building up a rhythm and continue to build until the 1-minute mark when the vocals come in. In typical fashion; the vocals are crushing low growls that escalate subtlety. It has about half the speed of many of earlier Misery Index songs, but I would be damned if I said it wasn’t 100 percent as brutal. I mean the last line of the song is  ” A fundamental flaw, a system overload of means without ends. We reap what we deserve” never to stray away from the blunt truth Netherton has a way of writing lyrics that have the same impact of getting punched right in the nose. Straight to the point, no filler or fluff, just right to the point without any sugar coating.  This is just the type of song you can listen to and get yourself warmed up for the rest of the album. At only two and a half minutes long, this track is simply the setup, a damn good set up at that. from a line in the booklet ” Truth sells, but who’s buying?”

Decline and Fall– Universal Truths rolls right into Decline and Fall, with rapid-fire blast beats, and a grinding riff that the listener will certainly appreciate. I find myself really digging the chorus of the song with the gang vocals in unison shouting “DECLINE AND FALL!” Misery Index do not use this style in all of their songs, but when they do there is this insatiable urge for the listener to join in. Similar to the track Traitors you just can’t help yourself because the song hooks you early and by the time the gang vocals begin you are feeling like you are at a Misery Index show and feeling that you are in the right place at the right time. Its not until the 3:00 minute mark that they slow things down, and then the groove begins where you find yourself nodding with enjoyment of the killer down tempo riff and vocals. This is one of the songs off the album, which will surely be a fan favorite.

The Choir Invisible- This is one of the tracks they released as a single, in the form of both a lyric video but also Adam Jarvis did a playthrough with Sickdrummer magazine. The set up feels like a classic M.I. set up, good drum and guitar into until the bass drum roll and then the vocals begin. If you aren’t hooked by the thirty second mark then you might not be a fan of metal. Because M.I. do not try to reinvent the wheel, they have a formula that works, and it works everytime. Its all in the sound and style they have solidified as their modus operandi.  Grinding guitars,  powerful blast beats, and vocals matched with lyrical content that is meant to have an impact. For one of the worlds best death grind bands, their lyrics are unconventional with typical metal. This is one of many of the songs on the album with that lyrical impact, if you don’t find yourself thinking about the words and what they mean. Then you are probably only interested in blast beats and fast tempos, not how powerful the song actually is behind the riffs and drums. Right around the 2: 17 mark they transition in to a menacing slow roll like a bulldozer chugging along and clearing everything in its path. Unrelenting power, with a criminally insane sound.  Right around the 3: 22 mark they grace us with a smooth guitar solo that can eclipse tech death shredders by using simplicity and the delivery is what makes it top notch for the listeners.

New Salem- Now here is a song that everyone living in the world today should be able to relate to. Again M.I. have thought behind their lyrics and are not designed for shock value, but are more thought provoking. This song was the first single they released, and a damn good single to premier the album with. It is one of the shorter songs, but packs a shit ton of grind and groove into it. when the vocals kick in the drums go right into a rolling battering ram. Guitars are grinding with that buzz-saw distortion and the song maintains a constant feeling of aggression and chaotic modern times. This is one of the most infectious songs they have put out to date in my opinion. I would not say it is my all time favorite M.I. song because lets face it they constantly raise the bar, but maintain their unique sound. If you’re looking for blast beats and guitar shredding, than this is a song for you. I challenge anyone to listen to this song and not move a muscle by the two minute mark. I know I cant help myself, I’m tapping my desk, playing the air drums and really enjoying the feeling this song provides. Like it or not, you will be amped up by the end of the song without fail.

Hammering The Nails- Now this is probably my favorite track off the album. The beginning is exactly what you have heard from previous albums. Simple but strong set up for the guitar to join in, and then the vocals kick in for the first verse. Just listening to the guitars with the vocals is absolutely infectious.  This also showcases what I have been saying about Adam Jarvis for years. The guy can play unwavering blast beats with power. Not a single “ping” from the snare because he missed his target or held back. Yet he also is not limited to blast beats like some drummers out there.  This song has a small amount of blasts and it shows his diversity on the drums. The drums compliment everything about this song perfectly, so much so, that if the song was riddled with blast beats it would not sound right at all. The guitars are top notch as well, the guitars at the :16 second mark lure you right into the first verse willingly and before you know it you are singing along to “Hammering the nails down! As we each die clinging to the lies that hold our world in place!” Good god almighty this is a Misery Index song that will appeal to everyone Misery Index fan or not. hands down this is one of my favorite tracks off the album, it has gotten the most spins and has the classic Misery Index feel I love. I am however wondering if its a slight play on words from their Compilation titled “Pulling Out The Nails”.

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Rituals of Power- Alas, the title track of the album, and what a banger it is. The song is the embodiment death-grind, a sound that is beyond compare, paramount, so well blended that they never need to stray from that sound. The sound is like classic death metal and grind mashed through a meat grinder.  The intro with the guitars and drums really set up the pace of the song. They provide a menacing feel right up to the first vocalization on the mic. How can one listen to this track and not feel the power behind the instruments? The chorus alone has me feeling as if I am unstoppable. And I cannot control my urge to sing along; “With a concrete stare, RITUALS OF POWER! The dead eyes of the past, RITUALS OF POWER! Up to the gates of Armageddon RITUALS OF POWER! Until we’re all one with the dust, RITUALS OF POWER!”  It has an anthemic death grind feel about it, I never thought I would use those words together, but I’m not surprised that I was able to when writing about Misery Index. Transitioning around three minute mark, the song takes on a slower feel, with a simple and effective solo. It all blends in well to go back to that guitar solo before wrapping things up by looping back to the rhythm at the beginning of the song.

They Always Come Back- This song is so direct, they don’t pussyfoot around things on this track. It has a brief set up and they get right into the first verse rather quickly. Adam sets everything in motion with a snare bass pattern that welcomes the buzz-saw guitars and then the opening line “these bastards never die!” Like some of the previous tracks it features those gang style vocals we do not always expect from the M.I. crew, yet they are perfect. I would list this as one of the songs on the album, that breaks out of the mold from previous albums. Not a single blast beat that I could detect, slightly slower pace, and gang vocals, these are not typical of Misery Index. Nevertheless, I love it; they have not changed their sound at all, not one bit. They simply have adapted their delivery to correspond with the lyrical theme and the state of the world we find ourselves living in today. If you had told me 10 years ago, that Misery Index would put out a song with zero blast beats in it, I would have called bullshit. Because it was such a noticeable characteristic of  earlier Misery Index drums. However, it feels right, it absolutely feels right.

I Disavow- Many of you heard this track when they put out the single earlier in 2018; this I would say was a great track to have put out that early. In the beginning, the guitars whip up a grinding driving riff that sets up Adams blast beats in spectacular fashion. If the first ten seconds of this song do not hook you then either you are not using the right speakers/headphones or you are doing it wrong somehow. This paves the way for a cool melodic guitar solo around the 1:44 mark that is simple yet so perfect for the next phase around 2:10 when both guitars are syncopated and mesmerizing with a short shred fest before going right into that infectious driving rhythm from early in the song. Right around the 3:28 mark, they break down to a killer slow, punchy section that causes an unavoidable eruption of fist pumping,  headbanging destruction.

Naysayer- This is going to be that one chaotic blast beat filled track that is a fast paced whirlwind of grinding guitars. This is the only track that lyrical content was contributed by both Netherton and Kloeppel. That intrigues me, because there are not that many bands who have two people handling vocal duties, who both have a pretty closely matching style and delivery. Misery Index does, and that’s something I have always loved about this band. The vocals are on point, Jason and Mark don’t look for whats socially acceptable or popular for vocal styles. They just do their own thing, which together is a great blend of mids and lows. Together that vocal delivery fits the driving death-grind rhythm of this song perfectly.  This song is what i call the anchor track, every album Misery Index puts out, has a killer song at the end. its not always a fast song, or slow. it may or may not be riddled with blast beats, but the one thing that is consistent is the impact from the song. this is the shortest song on the album, and they jam pack this song with a ton of sound.  I challenge you to not move a muscle when you reach the 1:24 mark.  as it sets up this killer driving rhythm, no solos or anything just solid riffs and fast drums. there isn’t a single bland moment in the song. They pummel you with 210 beats per minute and never hold back.

As for the two cover tracks, all I can say is they do a killer job on them. I mean any cover Misery Index has done, has never been a disappointment. They have never half-assed a single thing these guys have ever done. I wont be reviewing these tracks as they are not Misery Index originals, but it is worth mentioning that they are killer renditions of two already awesome songs. Man Of Your Dreams has Rob Barret handling vocals which is such an interesting sound. to hear Misery Index the band play another bands song, with someone else doing vocals not in Misery Index, and not even growling vocals.  its pretty fucking cool to listen to.

In conclusion this album is a solid addition to the Misery Index catalog. It has a mature sound and great production quality. Yet one thing is for certain, I will never have the opportunity to say anything bad about this band. They have never provided that opportunity, and I feel there is a very good reason for that. For starters, the two guitarists Mark, and Darin.  Mark is such a well spoken individual with great talent, and killer vocals that compliment Jason’s vocals. He works for extreme management group and is one of the coolest cats you will meet. Darin is probably the quietest of the bunch and has some mystery behind him. However I have listened and have spoken to people from other death metal bands who have named Darin as the reason they got into metal. That he introduced death metal bands to them and if it wasn’t for Darin, they would not be where they are at today. Also worth mentioning a lot of those killer guitar solos you hear are Darin, and to watch him play on stage is like watching an athlete have the best game of their life. He comes alive on stage and after the show is over, he looks and acts like he had a great night. Almost as if he wasn’t the one on stage, but one of us in the crowd enjoying the show.  Adam, one of my all time favorite drummers. Adam is in a small handful of bands, frequently mentioned among Facebook groups for drums, and also appears on sites like SickDrummerMagazine. I will always point out that there are not always a need for blast beats. I love some hearty blast beat filled songs, but not all songs need them. And not all drummers are even good at them. but I find usually those are the “weak” sounding ones, like the drummer cannot maintain blasts for a long period, or there is little power behind the blasts so the sound is not consistent.  Adam’s blasts are just like regular blast beats, except that they have brute force behind them. I am always surprised by drummer who can deliver super sonic blasts, but always disappointed when they sound a little weaker and are less distinguished than the rest of the snare hits. Adam doesn’t hold back, and he doesn’t need to impress anyone with how fast he can blast, because whether they are rapid fire or not, the volume and intensity is the same. Consistency rings true with his drumming style. He is consistently accurate, fast, powerful and impressive. Not to mention all his other bands his style may change with the genre, but his consistency never does. And just like the rest of the guys, he is absolutely humble, and will talk to anyone who calls themselves a fan. Last but definitely not least is Jason Netherton, this is a name that every metal head should know. Not only a founding member of Misery Index, but also a founding member of Dying Fetus. He has been touring for about 23 years, and is a world traveler because of his music. He is also educated, not that it means typical metal band members are not. what I mean is, he’s not JUST educated, he has actually spoken at metal conferences. He is an icon, a death metal icon, yet the guy is one of the most humble people you will meet. Someone who has been in two major metal bands, written at least one book that I know of, and has spoken at a metal conference in Finland. One of the most business oriented, yet laid back and humble individuals I have ever met. When I think of a death metal supergroup I cant help but feel the need to put Misery Index in that bracket. This album is proof that they aren’t going to try and mix things up to appeal to more people. They aren’t about to change anything about their winning formula. Instead they are going to continue to raise the bar, tour the world, reach the masses, and make thought provoking death-grind like it has never been done before.  This album gets a 9/10 \m/ from me, hands down. If I said it was a 10/10 no one would believe me, but this is one of my favorite albums by them yet.  I had Heirs to Thievery in my car CD player for a solid 3 years without ever taking it out. I didn’t think any album would top that, until they put out The Killing Gods, and now Rituals Of Power takes Misery Index to the next level.

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