I Listened to Misery Signals’ “Ultraviolet”
It takes no more than thirty five seconds to calm any nerves I’ve had about the wide vista left between Misery Signals records. It’s been seven years since Absent Light dropped and in between there has been almost complete radio silence from the band when it came to new music. There was a tour to commemorate the ten year anniversary of Of Malice and the Magnum Heart, a tour which saw the departure/replacement of singer Karl Schubach once the original lineup came together and found a solid chemistry once again.
With the return of Jesse Zaraska, it was not only a reunion for the band in its original state, but also the first wait for me personally on a band with this roster. I had heard of Misery Signals in passing around the Malice days, but it wasn’t until 2006’s Mirrors that I found a deep loving relationship with this band. Karl was my Misery Signals singer. So with his ousting and Jesse’s return, I was certainly skeptical. I knew the record would sound heavy and bright in the way that the Signals are legendary in orchestrating. I was unsure if these new/old vocals, the “I’ll Form the Head” of the Voltron that is the introduction of all bands, the first baptism of a new record, a new song would suit the shape of expectation that I had built in a Dreyfus-esque quarry like the awaiting of a close encounter of the third kind.
I can confirm: they did arrive.
These songs are rejuvenated hymns of a group of guys who seem like they have rediscovered a muse once buried and overexploited. There is a brightness here, the way that the violence of an uprising carries with it more than just aggression but also triumph. The swings hit harder. The breakdowns pulse with intention. While some other entrants in the metalcore genre can often feel like they’re notching exhausted tropes from a quiver of bent and tired arrows, Misery Signals remain the blacksmiths. They remain the fletchers.
There is something fresh and alive in each and every tone they employ. And across five records, there still remains a silver thread that ties them all together. Like watching Brad Pitt’s Achilles in 2004’s Troy, there is a mastery and a lightness in the way they wield their armory. A joy is in their step. And what’s most impressive is the sheer ease at which they shred through these songs.
The architecture of this record is sharp as each track lands beautifully. The transitions from one to the next are seamless. As “Some Dreams” came to a close, I braced for more. I waited for the next blow to land. And there was nothing. Just the fog of battle lifting. The record had flown by so quickly, free from gnarly hangups or the rust of inefficiency turning its oxidized head. This is a hell of a record. If you have been a fan of Misery Signals for their near two decade run, this will feel like it is a gift specifically made for you. If one has never taken a stride into their waters, I can honestly say that there is no better intro to their work than this one. It’s a record that showcases all of their talents, all of their strengths and above all else shows that the prowess of their songwriting is paramount of them all.