Misery Index – Complete Control (Album Review)

Misery Index – Complete Control
Released: May 13, 2022

Line Up:

Jason Netherton // Bass and Vocals
Mark Kloepell // Guitar and Vocals
Darin Morris // Lead Guitar
Adam Jarvis // Drums

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To sum up Misery Index in one word; aggression. Musically rooted in the world of death metal, with a strong helping of grindcore, the Baltimore, Maryland four-piece have consistently dished out vein-popping material for over two decades. On Complete Control – their seventh full length, and first at new label home Century Media – Misery Index have pushed their already intense sound even deeper into the world of hardcore punk. 

Misery Index are a band that has been somewhat overlooked for many years – rather confusingly, as their sound should appeal to both extreme metal and hardcore fans. Lyrically, the band tackle real world issues, delving into society’s flaws and failings – both on a larger geo-political scale, as well as personal demons and habits. It’s one of the aspects of Misery Index that has kept them separate from their more gore/death-obsessed death metal peers. Also, unlike a lot of extreme metal which, for better or worse, can be inundated with overly self-serving playing, Misery Index keep the songs razor sharp without superfluous playing. Even when lead guitarist Darin Morris fires off a rapid-fire solo, his contributions add a nice final touch to the proceedings – never detracting or seeming shoe-horned. Not to say that the group’s musicianship isn’t up to par – far from it. There is an immense amount of wrist-splintering riffage covering this album – check out ‘The Eaters And The Eaten’ and the mid-record highlight ‘Rites Of Cruelty’, which packs an excellent outro section, for some top tier guitar work. That being said, Complete Control’s MVP has to be drummer Adam Jarvis. Also known for his work in fellow grindcore maniacs Pig Destroyer, the man has almost in-human stamina and power; forget being an airtight musician – Jarvis’ playing is sealed shut.

‘Administer The Dagger’ is a fantastic opener; moody guitars build up over ever-quickening drum fills, before exploding into a tsunami of guitars and blastbeats. ‘Conspiracy Of None’ boasts some of the most overtly hardcore trappings with more straight to the point playing, and some instantly moshable beatdowns. The title track almost veers into melodic death metal territory with the opening harmonised lead guitars and a less-intense atmosphere – at least by the rest of the release’s standard. Dual vocalists Jason Netherton and Mark Kloeppel keep things fresh, whether they’re taking lead lines or backing one another, and the usage of two distinct, solely harsh vocalists is a trait that few acts have adopted in the heavy music world.

Two minute punisher ‘Infiltrators’ is built for the live stage with its chant-able refrain, before it moves seamlessly into the more dynamic, yet still brutal, ‘Reciprocal Repulsion’. That number has some of the fastest moments on display, with Misery Index breaking out term-picked riffs and blastbeats for a furious bridge section. Its closing passage is equally thunderous with some of the most powerful lyrics of the record – “We stand, powerless, as common dreams die, by the hammer of our hubris” – being bellowed out in front of a wall of wailing guitars and half-time drumming. A big highlight of Complete Control for sure. LP finale “Now Defied!”, another two-minute tune, is a breathless way to wrap up proceedings, keeping the listening pinned down until the last note rings out.

While there are several high points across the record, there isn’t one standout classic amongst the bunch – instead, it’s nine tracks of relentless metal. Clocking in at just a few minutes north of half an hour, Complete Control does not overstay its welcome. It’s wrapped up in a perfect mix and master job from modern studio lords Will Putney and Jens Bogren, and it sounds as huge and powerful as the music it’s built around. Misery Index have created an album that pushes death metal along into the modern day, whilst keeping an eye firmly on the multitude of extreme music that came before it. For those wanting a punishing collection of gimmick-free, extreme music with real-world lyrics, the power of Misery Index’s Complete Control is undeniable and unstoppable.

Misery Index – Complete Control tracklisting:

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. Infiltrators
8. Reciprocal Repulsion
9. Now Defied!

Rating: 8/10
Complete Control is out now on Century Media. Grab it here
Review By – Andrew Kapper. Twitter: @andrew_kapper

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