August 4, 2020 Misery Signals – Ultraviolet (Album Review)
The reunited powerhouse Metal outfit Misery Signals is slated to make their long-awaited return with the self-released Ultraviolet on Friday, August 7, 2020.
American, Canadian, defying genre by fusing all things heavy into an amalgamated sound, Misery Signals formed in 2002 and issued their debut full-length, Of Malice and the Magnum Heart, two years later. As the band hit the road to prove their worth, lineup changes ensued and side projects were adopted, but the quintet still managed to produce three additional LPs over the next nine years—2006’s Mirrors, 2008’s Controller, and 2013’s Absent Light. Oh, and the touring? Nothing stopped them as they took to stages alongside the likes of Darkest Hour, Unearth, After the Burial, Veil of Maya, The Amity Affliction, and many more.
Now time off and time away have allowed for a reunification of their original lineup, and Misery Signals—Vocalist Jesse Zaraska, Guitarists Ryan Morgan and Stu Ross, Bassist Kyle Johnson, and Drummer Branden Morgan—are stronger than ever and set to launch their fifth full-length, Ultraviolet. Mastered by Kris Crummett (Dance Gavin Dance, Sleeping with Sirens), the 9-song collection sees the band experience a true return to form, funneling their creativity and renewed camaraderie into a set of bangers full of hope, though still with an honest acknowledgement of the tension and darkness that can weigh down our lives.
Ultraviolet wastes no time in brutally flaying the senses with “The Tempest,” a hopeful insurrection of growls and melodic guitars that urge listeners to rise up and overcome the rough patches of life. Coming off this high, Morgan pounds the skins to lead his bandmates into battle on “Sunlifter,” reaching lofty heights that will entice listeners to sing-along. Then they slow it down and mix it up, at least initially, for “River King.” Here, a lulling chant escalates into a blistering crossing of the River Styx, as Misery Signals play with poetic metaphors.
The determined “Through Vales of Blue Fire” sees towering melodies weave around Morgan’s percussive core. At just two minutes, the track serves as a perfect segue into the fist-pumping anthem “Old Ghosts.” Continuing to anchor the entire collection, Morgan and Ross’ guitars cascade through “The Fall” before “Redemption Key” provides a poetic respite as the guitars now pussyfoot across the senses in a search for peace. Eventually building into Zaraska’s vicious howls, the song then shifts, once again pacifying for the build into “Cascade Locks.”
A sonic journey, the emotional “Cascade Locks” tours through all of the myriad sounds touched on throughout Ultraviolet to craft a show-stopping moment. Ultimately, however, they end with the triumphant feels of “Some Dreams,” slamming across the senses with infectiousness as Ultraviolet draws to a satisfying yet fairly prompt conclusion.
Proof that new chapters are always possible, the quintet’s fifth LP allows hope and resilience to partake of a savagely ambitious tango. Full of bold guitars that provide all of the melody, solid rhythms, and Zaraska’s haunting howls, Misery Signals’ latest is exactly what one would expect from this Metal powerhouse. And while that is neither a blessing nor a curse, but something that will definitely titillate their die-hards, the band delivers an enjoyable experience that is guaranteed to ignite a live audience—that is, if we can ever get back to some sense of normalcy. Doing themselves proud, Cryptic Rock gives Misery Signals’ latest 3.5 of 5 stars.