Misery Index’s Rituals of Power is an unabashed wallop of aggressive extremity. These nine tracks are going to whack you right in the forehead and just never give up. There is an obvious urgency here, even a bit more apparent than past Misery releases. There is little doubt that Rituals of Power makes a determined statement lyrically, musically and sonically and this will both satisfy long time Misery Index listeners as well as reel in scores of new ones.
There’s an undeniable lack of opaqueness in relation to the unmitigated disgust pertaining to the wealth of recent societal issues in the lyrics. This is nothing new to this band who have staked their claim on this type of social commentary. After all, the name “Misery Index” comes from a measure of economic health (or lack thereof) that gained particular prominence in the late 1970’s when the United States was mired in massive inflation and spiraling unemployment. What makes this band stand out, however, is that they place the societal in front of the political, and therefore avoid sounding preachy or coming off with a particular agenda.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that this an unmistakably heavy record from start to finish. There are no gaps in aggression. There is no filler. With relatively short songs enmeshed with the technical-yet-accessible wizardry of the Jarvis/Morris combo on drums and lead guitar respectively, listeners are treated to an incredibly hefty slice of death metal that also evokes a sense of wonder. This is paramount to Misery Index’s signature sound. It packs the punch of Mike Tyson but with the finesse of Sugar Ray Leonard.
One aspect of Rituals of Power that I particularly like is the fact that Jason Netherton’s bass is given a lot of room in the both song structure and in the mix to come out prominently, especially in the 7th cut “They Always Come Back.” Certainly, with the masterful guitar work and pummeling, relentless drums, the bass might play more of a supporting role, however, long time Misery Index listeners will pick up on and appreciate Netherton’s artful contributions here.
“Naysayer” is a song that really sticks out as a track that brings fans something new. The vocal cadence matched with phrasing that I can recall from any other Misery Index song in their extensive catalog. It also comes off particularly well as an album closer – a rather short, punchy composition that puts the exclamation point on a relentlessly pounding record.
“The Choir Invisible” is also going to turn some heads. There are some obvious nods to hardcore here in terms of guitar chord progression and the gang vocals. No doubt, this is a track that was written to be played live and get the crowd worked up. It will.
The first two singles “New Salem,” a modern metal song for modern times and “I Disavow” whet the appetite appropriately but really any of cuts on this record could have been singles. Expertly crafted – and what we expect – Rituals of Power is one in a long line of painfully underrated releases from this band who only know how to fire on all cylinders all of the time.
Rituals of Power releases March 9 on Season of Mist and can be ordered here. The digibox CD comes with two bonus tracks, a patch and a bottle opener.