PICK OF THE WEEK: Misery Index dig for truth in deceit on crushing, bone-blasting ‘Rituals of Power’

The truth never has meant less than it does now. No matter how much evidence one can amass, now matter how many theories can be proven, no matter how many questions can be answered accurately, there are people out there dying to reject all of that because it doesn’t fit their narrative. Don’t even try to argue or persuade; nothing you say or do will ever work to break the spell.

Baltimore-based death/grind crushers Misery Index have been battling back against political corruption and societal oppression their entire nearly two-decade run, and now’s probably as necessary a time for a band like this to exist and be delivering devastating music. That takes us to “Rituals of Power,” the band’s sixth record and first since 2014’s enthusiastically received “The Killing Gods.” On this nine track, 36-minute record, the band focuses its vitriol on what’s increasingly become, as they put it, a “post-truth society,” where control and your party winning means more than justice and finding what’s right. The record is destructive and channeled, as the band works their way through these fire-breathing cuts with precision and power. Misery Index’s music has become more immersive and interesting as they’ve gone on, as well, without cutting back their deadly assault even a bit. The band—vocalist/bassist Jason Netherton, guitarist/vocalist Mark Kloeppel, lead guitarist Darin Morris, drummer Adam Jarvis—has congealed into a fiery, clobbering band that puts even more force behind their striking words.

“Universal Untruths” begin the record with a punchy open and Netherton blasting, “This is a code red!” The growls crush along with the tempo that goes for the throat, while Netherton calls, “And we decline, into the black of unreality,” as the song comes to a vicious end. “Decline and Fall” greets with speed and fury, as the playing is thrashy as hell, the verses cut to the bone, and the group-howled chorus blasts you in the chest. The solo burns while the tempo trucks, with the track coming to a brutal end. “The Choir Invisible” unleashes death chugs as Netherton warns, “We are disposable!” A doomy storm settles into the chaos as the track keeps landing blows, the leads go off into a sci-fi fog, and things boil and give off steam as it reaches its end. “New Salem” strikes right away with an unforgiving attack as the verses shred flesh, and a simple chorus where the title is shouted repeatedly hits its mark before everything ends abruptly.

“Hammering the Nails” is sludgy and massive with group howls, the verses punishing, and Netherton’s cries coming out raspy and scarred. A strong solo blares before the chorus tears back in, and forceful vocals power the assault. The title cut has a calculated start before the gas pedal is jammed through the floor, with a chorus that absolutely crushes. “No one cares who lives or dies, no empathy, no compromise,” Netherton accuses before the song burns out suddenly. “They Always Come Back” is thrashy but also isn’t in a hurry to lay waste, meaning the beating is sustained. The growls are filled with menace, the chorus shouted back, which should be fun live, and strong soloing. Guitars carve back in, bringing blood to the surface and a wave of panic for the enemy. “I Disavow” is a smasher from the start, with savage growls and Netherton howling, “No rest for the ignorant who cry wolf who cry wolf as they’re dragged from the womb,” as the track’s straight-forward chorus makes its mark easily. The uprising storms hard from there, with everything ending in a blaze. Closer “Naysayer” begins with Jarvis’ drums exploding as the pace takes on a grindy feel, with the vocals dashed like blood spatter. Guitars take off, as the song gets thrashy and nasty, and Netherton vows, “You are the one that history will soon forget,” as the song ends in a pile of ash.

Hopefully we get our shit together as a society and start trying to dig to find our own truth instead of just aping what we hear uneducated people say on Twitter or on TV. Misery Index already have delved deep into the pit of deceit in which we live on “Rituals of Power,” and they come out with knives drawn, ready to take on those who try to oppose what’s right. This band always has worn their bleeding hearts on the outside of them, striving for what they feel is right and striking back against oppression and pain.

For more on the band, go here: https://www.facebook.com/MiseryIndex/

To buy the album (North America), go here: https://shopusa.season-of-mist.com/

Or here (International): https://shop.season-of-mist.com/

For more on the label, go here: http://www.season-of-mist.com/

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