REVIEW: MISERY INDEX – “Rituals Of Power”
So the question everyone is asking is how are the average citizens of the world doing economically in 2019? Is the ratio of the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate, higher or lower? In other words, what is the Misery Index in 2019? But, that is a question for the economists. We here at Metal-Wani are more concerned about the music of the Maryland based death metal act that shares the same name.
Four years after the release of their fifth full-length album ‘The Killing Gods’, Misery Index are back with their latest, ‘Rituals of Power’. Those who have followed the bands journey from the start of the millennium, would be well aware of how ‘The Killing Gods’ marked a major shift in the musical direction for the band, as the band moved from a straight-forward death/grind act towards a more traditional death metal act. ‘Rituals of Power’ builds upon that experience as the band further cultivates its own sonic signature, delivering one of their strongest albums till date.
Opening with the short melodic intro in “Universal Untruths”, the album quickly shifts into top gear with “Decline and Fall”, as the track delivers an assault of heavy riffs and plummeting drum beats. The track is not just a showcase of speed, but also the maturity in composition the band members bring to the table. Clearly free of inhibitions, Misery Index brings Teutonic thrash metal influence and mixes it with their old hardcore/grind sound, making the aforementioned track much more memorable. This is further exemplified by “The Choir Invisible” which showcases a groove laden modern death metal sound, a side of the band never seen before.
This does not mean that the band have completely forgotten their origins. While incorporating these new sounds, one of the pillars that keeps them rooted to their grindcore sound is drummer Adam Jarvis. His style of playing helps the smaller and more direct tracks really shine out throughout the album. “Hammering the Nails” is a great example, delivering exactly what it says. A sonic assault of riffs and hammering drum beats, that plummet the listener.
One of my only grievances with ‘The Killing Gods’ was it felt like an album of two-halves. While the opener five-part concept showcased some of the very best songwriting and structure, the latter half felt much more generic and weak. ‘Rituals of Power’ makes no such mistake. With a total run-time of just over 36-minutes, the music is direct and wastes no time on theatrics. Even the more melodious and longer tracks in “Rituals of Power” and “They Always Come Back” appear to flyby, delivering some hard-hitting grooves to leave the listener sore.
Needless to say that after ‘The Killing Gods’, expectations from Misery Index were pretty high. In the four years since, the band has clearly honed their skills, cut out the fat and delivered their most-complete work till date in ‘Rituals of Power’. All killer and no filler.