Released: 2008, Ferret Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
What sets Misery Signals apart from the metalcore pack—and these guys are undoubtedly rooted in metalcore—is that rather than build on a crafted image and settle for raping the thrash and melodic death catalogue, the Wisconsin-based quintet leaves the swoopy haircuts and eyeliner behind and brings in progressive elements on CONTROLLER. Devin Townsend once again helms production on the record after sitting out 2006’s MIRRORS and the Strapping Young Lad mainman’s influence is present everywhere. Ambient passages mingle with biting riffs and Karl Schubach’s venomous bellow to create a truly original-sounding album that begs for repeated listens.
The opening salvo of “Nothing” quickly gives way to a spirited, multi-layered wall of swirling guitars that bears more than a passing resemblance to Townsend’s TERRIA. “Weight of The World” is more of a straight-forward mosh-ready track but Schubach’s vocals flow over a great chorus that is deceptively catchy. “Labyrinthian” showcases the dual guitar attack of Ryan Morgan and Stu Ross who pepper the verses with noodly riffs before diving into a crashing chorus beefed up by subtle ambient sounds. “Parallels” is housed in a raw, Darkest Hour-type fuselage but lying underneath it is a delicate, progressive edge that really adds to the overall vibe. Vocally, things are pretty standard with Schubach doing his best tough-guy bellows and growls but when he brings out a fine clean vocal croon on “Ebb and Flow,” it becomes clear his addition to the band was a wise move. To really screw with people’s perceptions, the addition of various xylophones and other percussive instruments (played by Morgan’s father, Rick) to “Reset” and “Homecoming” delivers a lush, sonic palette and is captured beautifully by Townsend’s production.
Avoiding the generic sameness that dogs many metalcore releases, Misery Signals dares to think outside the box with CONTROLLER. MIRRORS saw the technical roots form but this record really finds Misery Signals coming into their own as band. With influences as diverse as hardcore, jazz and progressive rock, Misery Signals ignites a tired genre and shows that experimentation and the love of all music does have a rightful place within a metal record.
KILLER KUTS: “Nothing,” “Weight of The World,” “Labyrinthian,” “Parallels,” “Coma,” “Reset”