Review: “Complete Control” by Misery Index

We’re mixing death metal even more explicitly with our brutal hardcore and grindcore influences. It’s as if you took our early punk-leanings, mixed them with the thematic darkness of ‘The Killing Gods’, and further blended it with the straight-forwardness of ‘Rituals of Power’, all in one concise presentation. Complete Control’ is a thematic idea which connects all the lyrics into a kind of loosely based concept album. The central idea is that ‘power’ is not something that is always wielded with brute force in the modern world (through violence), but more so as a control-society where it manifests on a self-governing, individual level (in and through our everyday habits and practices). Each song then dissects these insidious forms of control as they work to fragment, reshape and suppress our very selfhood in alignment with the interests of global finance. I know these are not easy themes to discuss, but to me, it’s always more impactful and sincere to rage about real-world issues, no matter how much we’d like to escape them. I feel like we study and honor the history of this music, and for bands like Napalm Death, Terrorizer, Disrupt, Brutal Truth, etc., social critique is very much a part of their approach to making music.

When musical traditions are not honored, you end up pandering to whatever happens to be the flavor of the month. What this practice churns out is a music culture divided into micro-sub-genres that do one or two things overly well, but leaves much to be desired in terms of maintaining song structure and lyrical depth. We maintain our approach to music-making by consciously avoiding trends. We try to further what we are doing with each effort by tapping into our own matrix of influences which span the realms of punk, hardcore, death metal, and grindcore. For the most part, we write for ourselves and seek to please our own musical aspirations before those of our audience or anyone else. In many ways, our music is also inseparable from the Maryland extreme music scene it was born from, where the hardcore and punk influences historically situated in the D.C. and Baltimore areas provided us with a unique foundation to base our brand of extreme metal upon. Over the years, however, the sound has evolved considerably into a death metal band that incorporates all those styles evenly to avoid stagnation or becoming one-dimensional” ~ Misery Index vocalist and bassist Jason Netherton 

Recorded in September and October of 2021 and subsequently mixed by Will Putney (Knocked Loose, Body Count) prior to being mastered by Jens Bogren (Sepultura, At The Gates) at Fascination Street studios, after 19 years Baltimore Death Metal quartet make their debut for Century Media with “Complete Control“. A record tat is adorned by the visceral, uncanny work of visual artist Matt Lombard, it follows 2019’s “Rituals Of Power” as their seventh magnum opus and third in a row with a consistent line up as guitarist Darrin Morris celebrates a decade in the band.

If you’ve heard records like “Human Target” by Thy Art Is Murder or “Sea Of Tragic Beasts” by Fit For An Autopsy then it will be obvious from the start “Complete Control” that the hands of Will Putney have been all over the record. The clean, crisp drum sound heard as Adam Jarvis rampages through these tracks just one of the numerous hallmarks that he has left, his attention to detail in the mix is second to none in making sure that the best possible versions of what the band have created ends up in our greasy paws. The album sounds thunderous, the layers of percussive battery sweeping through it like a storm of oncoming darkness with both Death and Black Metal fills pushing the boundaries of the listener over the duration of the pummelling record. Netherton is on fire at the microphone, spitting blood and venom and he has plenty of lyrical fuel for to keep him going but it’s the Swedish Death Metal inspired lead parts of cuts like the album title track that are where the album really stakes its claim for attention. The face melting solo on that is also a stunner before “Necessary Suffering” drives down the darkness as a circle pit feeling breakneck speed adrenaline rush of frantic and frenetic riffs that bursts into flames when the solo hits at the end.

Make no mistake, “Complete Control” is a Misery Index album through and through, but it with a few changes here and there it sounds more refined and focused with the band in their element. The songs flow well together as a cohesive and powerful statement piece from the intelligently used Mark Twain quotes in opening cut “Administer The Dagger” to the pulverising “Now Defied!” so while admittedly there is no one single that stands above the rest as some kind of anthem, there doesn’t need to be because it’s all high grade incendiary material. The staccato riff breaks of “Conspiracy Of None” with it’s chantable chorus is an instant winner with an air of familiarity about it as it leans on the bands influences while being as razor sharp and barbed as the rest. The bass drive at the start of “Reciprocal Repulsion” cracks a smile as Misery Index charge headlong into restless and relentless Death infused Thrash with as many blasts as they can possibly shoe-horn into a single, raw and brutal cut, the top notch production shinning through the darkness like the beam of light from a lighthouse in the darkness above stormy waters. That is capped off by a majestic solo that adds a jaw dropping moment to the violence as the band continue to out do themselves time and time again before the grand finale that is “Now Defied!” goes faster, harder and more feral than before, hitting like a punch in the face from a prize fighter. If anyone thought that Misery Index were going to get soft or rest on their laurels as they approach their 20th anniversary, they are sorely mistaken because this is one of the finest Death Metal albums of 2022, a whirlwind of an adrenaline rush from start to finish [9/10]

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. Infiltrator
8. Reciprocal Repulsion
9. Now Defied!

Complete Control” by Misery Index is out 15th May 2022 via Century Media

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