Misery Index - Rituals of Power - (8.5/10)
Published on July 4, 2019
When discussing the hierarchy of extreme metal, it would be rather gauche to not seat Misery Index in the royal box with other current giants of the stage like Gojira, Behemoth, Cannibal Corpse, Meshuggah, and the like. It’s a sentiment the Baltimore quartet would likely shirk, but this is where they stand in 2019, nearly 20 years deep and lugging six imposing full-lengths in tow. With the release of Rituals of Power, Misery Index sound angrier and more relevant than ever, all the while retaining a death-grind style that, for the most part, has stayed true to the course.
Given that the vocals and instruments were seemingly recorded all across America (and Finland), one would be safe to presume that Rituals of Power could potentially sound jumbled, perhaps incoherent. But this is far from the truth (kudos to Raphael Gabrio’s cover art), and Misery Index affirm their position as professional slayers over the course of nine searing tracks, infusing moments of unabashed catchiness into an otherwise turbulent and violent half-hour-plus of high-powered death.
It’s hard to believe that their last album, The Killing Gods, was released some five years back—the longest creative gap of their career—but such a hiatus has allowed Misery Index to rejuvenate and return to the fray with fresh energy and, in large part due to the fractured state of American politics, a bevy of reasons to play faster, heavier, and with more lyrical ammo than ever. Of course, vocalists Jason Netherton and Mark Kloeppel have never lacked for subject matter; they’ve taken aim at social and political injustice, historical and cultural genocide, and are now keyed into today’s widespread dissemination of #fakenews and the rapid decay of human communication. Although a guess could be made to their party leanings, the focus is much broader than red and blue or donkeys and elephants; Misery Index aren’t buying the bullshit and they’d prefer you not either.
The sound and attitude of Rituals of Power is ultimately what you would expect from a new Misery Index record. The band’s increased penchant for catchy riffs and refrains seems the most noticeable change or maybe enhancement, but the modus operandi remains tightly wound, high-charged, high-powered death metal with a hardcore bite, a style that has no doubt inspired the evolution/formation of bands like Venom Prison, Dyscarnate, Sanzu, Nails, and others. It may not be as heavy as Traitors or as, well, perfect as Heirs to Thievery, but Rituals of Power is a smashing, blistering effort from the most trustworthy death-dealers in the business.