Misery Signals – ‘Ultraviolet’

By Dave Stewart

Metalcore is one of the most adored sub-genres within metal. The blend of relentless heaviness, insatiable melody and hardcore punk aggression is addictive, creating an unstoppable energy that’s been rising and falling in prominence for decades. Some say that the genre is currently undergoing something of a revival, while others consider it to be slowly dying as time goes by. Regardless of which side of the fence you sit on, the return of genre legends Misery Signals to the frontlines is something to be celebrated.

The Misery Signals discography may be considered somewhat small for the amount of time they’ve been around, but it stands as one of the most respected and admired in metalcore to date. Their creativity, musical ability and sheer power is impossible to ignore, refusing to bow down to the pressures of the industry and only releasing material when they are truly inspired to do so. That time is now and has lead to the release of their first album in seven years, ‘Ultraviolet’. It’s the first Misery Signals album to feature original vocalist Jesse Zaraska since the 2004 debut album ‘Of Malice and the Magnum Heart’, also marking the return of all the founding members to the band. Prepare to be dazzled.

Regardless of whether you’re a fan of the band or just a fan of the genre, there are plenty of moments here to gush over. ‘The Fall’ is full to the brim with elegance and hostility, with the dual guitar attack of Ryan Morgan and Stu Ross working together to summon a stunning and abrasive storm. ‘River King’ jumps from light to dark like child’s play, the heavier moments showcasing Zaraska’s vocals at their bellowing best and the guitars at their most devastating. As the calm opening erupts into the chaotic distorted tones your hairs will stand on end, every riff propelled skyward with help from the weighty, complex drum work of Branden Morgan. The classic metalcore vibes of ‘Sunlifter’ will be sure to send chills throughout your body, boasting tight chugs, carefully crafted melodies, face-melting riffs and ‘Controller’-era vibes oozing from every note.

For a journey into mysterious and evocative territory, check out the short and delicate ‘Redemption Key’, a carefully constructed ballad hybrid that is both haunting and reassuring. For a masterclass in song structure and progression, give ‘Cascade Locks’ a spin, continuously building momentum as the band take to the accelerator in all the right places to allow the choruses to truly swell and soar. If a potent dose of hard-hitting metalcore is more your thing, then ‘Old Ghosts’ will satisfy your cravings, with Zaraska’s unmistakable growl powering through to vibrate your skull as Morgan and Ross’ guitar work operates at its melodic best.

Every single second of this record is golden, the band channelling everything they’ve picked up over the years to create yet another classic Misery Signals record. From the turbulent and majestic opener ‘The Tempest’ to the fiercely uplifting finale ‘Some Dreams’, they’ve proven that they haven’t lost a shred of what makes them so special. It’s all tightly woven into the fabric of this record, every thread carefully sewn together to create both a refreshing rush of excitement and the warm embrace of nostalgia.

‘Ultraviolet’ sounds so masterfully effortless it’s as though the music has naturally flowed from them, quietly biding its time until the right moment to pour out presented itself. They’ve gracefully doffed their caps to every record in their discography, dusting off themes and ideas from their past to create something that sounds fresh and undoubtedly theirs. The grasp on melody and song structure is tighter than ever, thrusting mind-bending twists and spine-tingling shifts into the mix – both when the music demands it and when you least expect it. It isn’t an easy act to balance, but this record manages to be as breathtaking as it is brutal. It’s beautiful.

Seven years is a long time to wait for new music, but as soon as the record comes to a close you’ll forget you even had to wait in the first place. They could’ve taken twenty years and you’d forget you had to wait – it really is that good. Metalcore is not dead, and neither are Misery Signals. An unmissable comeback album from one of the finest bands to ever grace the genre. Hopefully we won’t have to wait seven years for another one.

DAVE STEWART

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