Saturday 14 June 2014

Misery Index - The Killing Gods (Album Review)

Album Type : Full Length
Date Released : 23/5/2014
Label : Season of Mist

Misery Index “The Killing Gods” (CD/DD/LP) track listing :

1. Urfaust
2. The Calling
3. The Oath
4. Conjuring the Cull
5. The Harrowing
6. The Killing Gods
7. Cross to Bear
8. Gallows Humor
9. The Weakener
10. Sentinels
11. Colony Collapse (feat. John Gallagher, DYING FETUS)
12. Heretics
13. Thieves of the New World Order [MINISTRY cover bonus track]

Bio :

MISERY INDEX return with a fury worthy of the title of their new album, "The Killing Gods". With their fifth full-length, the American icons of hard hitting brutality display the strength of maturity grown out of the experience gained as a relentless touring machine. The general trend of their continuous evolution to incorporate less core elements and move towards classic death metal finds a new high water mark. When their debut EP “Overthrow” was recorded in 2001 by vocalist and bassist Jason Netherton (ex-DYING FETUS) together with (then) guitarist and vocalist Mike Harrison and drummer Kevin Talley (ex-DYING FETUS), MISERY INDEX immediately charted a course to explore and push the limits of Death Metal and Grindcore, drawing influence from bands like MORBID ANGEL, NAPALM DEATH, TERRORIZER, BOLT THROWER and ENTOMBED. The erstwhile project shifted to a full time band when guitarist Sparky Voyles (ex-DYING FETUS) joined.

In 2003, MISERY INDEX unleashed their first full-length “Retaliate”, to exceptional reviews and followed by numerous support tours and festivals in Europe and North America. After several line-up changes, second album “Discordia” was released in 2006 with even more touring in its wake. Their third full-length, “Traitors” (2008) reaped raving reactions from both critics and fans and saw the band on the road again until 2009.

Then MISERY INDEX dropped “Heirs to Thievery” (2010) like a bomb on the Death Metal masses, shattering all expectations. The album was both a commercial and critical success, elevating the band to headlining slots. During that year, long time guitarist Sparky Voyles was replaced by Darin Morris. A string of shows and festivals around the globe followed and on the Munich date of “Full of Hate Tour” alongside CANNIBAL CORPSE, BEHEMOTH and LEGION OF THE DAMNED, the band recorded their first live album. Released early 2013, "Live in Munich" perfectly epitomized the rawness and ferocity that MISERY INDEX now elevate onto a new level with "The Killing Gods". Brace, hold tight and duck for cover, the wrath of the gods is upon us!

The Band

Jason Netherton | bass, vocals
Adam Jarvis | drums
Mark Kloeppel |guitar, vocals
Darin Morris | lead guitar

Review :

I’d like to start by acknowledging upfront that I’ve never been a huge Misery Index fan. I liked “Retaliate” well enough, but it isn't an album I revisit very often, and everything I've heard from Misery Index since then has been met with a pretty similar reaction from me.

Some albums are worse, some are better, but I wasn't really moved in either direction by any of their albums. 'The Killing Gods', the band’s fifth full-length album changes that. This is an album where I can truly say I’m a fan of Misery Index. They've kept their trademark ferocity and hardcore-informed rhythmic catchiness and added a melodic sensibility that enhances their sound wonderfully.

The Calling”, the first song on the album makes all of this clear, starting with a riff that would be right at home with/on Defleshed’s over-looked classic “Under the Blade”. Meanwhile, Adam Jarvis lays waste to his drum kit with ever-changing beats and constant snare abuse, reminding one of some of Janne Saarenpää’s best work in The Crown. There’s plenty of melody and harmony, but what makes it great is that they've sacrificed none of their vitriol in the process. The new attention they're paying to melody also shows up in the form of an octave lead at the opening of “Conjuring the Cull”, along with a revisiting of the intro's theme towards the end with plenty of harmonized lead work over the central riff. It's obvious that Misery Index is committed to fully realizing the songs on 'The Killing Gods', and they're built to keep you coming back for more.

The title track lets some of the notes ring longer, and allows for a bit of a breather tempo-wise, if only for a fleeting moment. Jarvis continues his torrential drum onslaught in the form of virtually relentless drum fills through much of it; this keeps the energy level up despite the more reserved riffing going on. It should be said that in many ways, even with all of the quality guitar work going on, the whole of the album seems to revolve around the drums in a way that their previous work did not. They’re very loud in the mix, and while that might be a detriment to some albums and bands, it’s actually a huge benefit to the overall experience of 'The Killing Gods'. As a result, the moments with the desired heaviest impact are felt all the more deeply.

Not everything is completely praise-worthy as the second half of the album is a little too locked into a routine of hardcore-ish riffs while abandoning some of the elements that made the first half of the album so successful. Things are so tightly played and on-point rhythmically that it doesn't hurt the flow of things too much, but it feels like they might have benefited from spreading the first six songs out more evenly over the course of the twelve songs on the album. This would have kept the second half of ‘The Killing Gods’ from exploring too much of the same terrain.  Even with that minor gripe aside, I have no problem stating that this is Misery Index’s finest hour. ‘The Killing Gods’ towers over their previous albums and it’s really not even close.

Words by : Daniel Jackson

The record is available everywhere now on Season Of Mist Records.

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