Misery Index – Complete Control (Album Review)

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Not all chains are physical.

Subtlety and nuance may seem counterintuitive in an extreme metal context, but that’s the niche that has been routinely explored by one of death metal’s favorite sons on the East Coast of the United States since the dawn of the 2000s. To be clear, Baltimore’s own Misery Index explores the truth behind pretenses more so in a lyrical sense, guided by the impressive educational background in mass media of bassist and vocalist Jason Netherton, though over the years their brand of hardcore-infused mayhem has grown in terms of complexity and sheer brutality. Now flying under the banner of Century Media Records, while still retaining the studio services of master engineer Will Putney, this colossus of a quartet has returned from the ashes of the pandemic-steeped early 2020s with a veritable force of nature committed to digital audio in “Complete Control,” the band’s seventh studio LP dubbed “Complete Control,” and an impressive conceptual undertaking to boot.

Staying true to their hardcore punk roots, the subject under consideration consists of a stinging commentary on the negative outcomes of present day global finance practices, manifesting in nine battering songs heavily adorned with metaphorical imagery to this end that is very appropriate to a death metal opus. The usual blend of merciless aggression that can be attributed to the likes of Dying Fetus, Aborted and Napalm Death have been distilled into a highly controlled and organized series of chapters that make for a truly twisted and disturbing storybook, all the while the chaotic and unhinged character that typifies a grindcore outfit. The guitar work of Darin Morris and Mark Kloeppel is methodical in delivery, though frequently flirts with tech death territory, particularly during the impressive guitar solo segments that would make any Suffocation fan cheer. Yet when all is said and done, the machine-gun mayhem and militaristic precision of drummer Adam Jarvis steals the show and rivals the most maniacal moments heard out of the likes of Flo Mounier and Trey Williams.

Quantifying the sheer level of sonic violence that pours out of each of these odes to sinister motives is a daunting task, but as a whole this album is not without a sense of pacing that keeps it from being one-dimensional. From the outset of opening crusher “Administer The Dagger”, a creepy atmosphere with a dreary clean guitar line is established as a tension builder, leading into a slow-paced stomp that might be compared to a death-core breakdown that eventually finds itself in a blasting explosion that one might consider a modern death metal homage to how earlier thrash albums were structured. Other high speed kill sessions like “The Eaters And The Eaten” and “Infiltrators” opt for a more straightforward and concise road to peak outrage, resulting in more of a crossover character, while the punchy strikes of “Necessary Suffering” have a groovier character at times while still going straight for the jugular. But for those who want their sonic chaos with more of an old school and epic vibe, the occasional flirtations with melodic death metal heard on “Rites Of Cruelty” and the crazed Deicide-like shred fests and blackened moments that pepper over “Reciprocal Repulsion” are the standout moments.

Taking all of the best elements of their two previous albums and distilling them to an even more potent grade, Misery Index have come out with a modern death metal masterpiece that those who live on the extreme fringes of the sub-genre are sure to eat up and ask for seconds. Naturally it doesn’t quite reach the level of sheer brilliance that was achieved by this outfit on 2006’s “Discordia” and its immediately follow up “Traitors,” but it more than does justice to this band’s impressive 21 year legacy. It may not seem it given the gargantuan levels of sheer brutality that adorn each track, but it ranks as one of the more well-rounded albums to come out of the style and listens best as one continually flowing, 34 minute long song. The subjects covered by Netherton’s Chris Mullen-like low tone barks might prove polarizing to some, but wherein the auditory contents of this raging storm of sound is concerned, it’s the kind of climactic brutality that any self-respecting fan of death metal will want to get behind.

Released By:  Century Media Records
Release Date: May 13th, 2022
Genre: Death / Grindcore Metal

Musicians:

  • Adam Jarvis / Drums
  • Darin Morris / Guitar
  • Jason Netherton / Bass, vocals
  • Mark Kloeppel / Guitar, vocals

Order “Complete Control” here.

“Complete Control” track-listing:

  1. Administer The Dagger
  2. The Eaters And The Eaten
  3. Complete Control
  4. Necessary Suffering
  5. Rites Of Cruelty
  6. Conspiracy Of None
  7. Infiltrators
  8. Reciprocal Repulsion
  9. Now Defied!

8.6 Excellent

Baltimore born millennial grindcore trustees turned death metal extraordinaire outfit Misery Index unveil a pummeling, concise set of brutal odes of discontent to the sonically starved masses on their seventh studio LP to shake the very foundations of societal presupposition

  • Songwriting 8.5
  • Musicianship 9
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 8.5
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