Sound — 8
Misery Index began as a recording project only, but after releasing their debut EP, "Overthrow," in 2001, they realized they had something worth working with. Since then they've released 8 EPs or split albums, a live album, and now "The Killing Gods" makes their fifth full-length studio release and their first with their new label, Season of Mist. The album has twelve tracks and clocks in at just a little under 45 minutes. This will also be the first full-length album without "Sparky" Voyles, who has played guitar on every previous Misery Index release. Sparky left the band, but information on the how's and why's are hard to find - but looking at the long list of bands that Sparky is still working with, it could have just been a matter of schedules not aligning. Sparky was replaced by Darin Morris, who plays lead on the album.
The album opens up with the track "Urfaust" which has a clean melody and a distorted neo-classical counter melody building up to the next song, "The Calling," which starts with some seriously heavy drumming and tremolo picking. I like that Netherton and Kloeppel both have some seriously heavy growls but you can still understand what they're saying for the most part. "The Oath" kind of builds off of the end of "The Calling," making the album feel like one cohesive piece of music up to this point. The track is made up of crickets and a clean guitar with a repetitive riff, mostly, though a muted slow-chugging distorted guitar comes in later in the track. That track gives way to "Conjuring the Cull" with a nice heavy rhythm guitar and some really nice low growled vocals. The short schizophrenic little guitar solo in "Conjuring the Cull" was a nice touch, as well. "The Harrowing" basically comes in straight from the end of "Conjuring the Cull," and pretty quickly brings in some impressive guitar work, rhythm and lead. This track, "The Harrowing," is where the drums started getting on my nerves just a little bit - this is my personal opinion, but the drums in most death metal and variants of death metal sound bad to me. While the cymbals aren't mixed way too high, which happens sometimes, the snare sounds like crap and wears on my nerves. Next up is the title track, "The Killing Gods," which starts with some chanting and then has a clean riff come in before the heaviness comes in, with a really neat little rhythm pattern on the drums. "Cross to Bear" is the first time a pinch harmonic really stood out on a song to my ears, which is another thing that is an improvement over most bands involved with death metal sub-genres. "Cross to Bear" also has my favorite guitar solo from the album. "Gallows Humor" is when I started liking the drums again - they started to sound like they fitted in with the music better than they had sounded a little earlier in the album. I like the general vibe of Misery Index and this release, and "Gallows Humor" really exemplifies the general vibe from the album, or at least the heavier side of the album. The whole jazz-y bass thing at the latter part of the track is pretty nice, too. "The Weakener" starts out sounding much more like a conventional modern heavy metal song than any kind of death metal or deathgrind, and is another track with one of the most conventional guitar solos. "Sentinels" has some really solid rhythm playing on it. "Colony Collapse" is heaviness from beginning to the end, and I started noticing around this point that the second half of the album has really gotten heavier and has much less clean guitars and tones in the latter half. The album closes out with "Heretic" which makes some good use of the bass player for once, and has an interesting thing going on in general for most of the track. Again, I really like the solo on this last song.
Lyrics — 8
Netherton has been doing vocals since the beginning, and Kloeppel didn't really come in that long after that and they both know what they're doing. I don't know which is which and without watching them live I'm not sure I could tell. The point being the vocals sit well with the music. The actual lyrical content is pretty standard for Misery Index, basically centered on the stupidity of modern civilization in general and all the things wrong with the world today. I can't disagree with that sentiment.
Overall Impression — 8
Just to be as clear as I can be, I thought this was an excellent album, especially for the genre. The guitar-work wasn't as monotonous as it can get sometimes within the death/grind genres. The band actually uses compression correctly on the guitars instead of just turning it up and getting down to it. The band uses dynamics in the guitar playing, and the album is mixed with the right balance of "brutality" and "ambience." It seems like most extreme metal nowadays is either mixed for "full-on aggression" or for "extreme ambience," but "The Killing Gods" has a good mix that is somewhere in-between. I enjoyed the way the first half of the album had each song seemingly running into the next, and a lot of the clean ambient passages mixed with the heavy rhythmic passages. My favorite song would have to be "Gallows Humor" from the album, and I like the solo from "The Weakener" and "Heretic."