Admittedly I am not a writer, I also am not one who usually reviews music. I am attempting to do a Misery Signals “Ultraviolet” review. So buckle up and let’s see how it goes. I’ll meet you on the other side.
The last new music we had heard from Misery Signals was back in 2013 with the release of “Absent Light”. Yes, it’s true that the “Sunlifter / Like Yesterday” 7-inch was released in 2016. However, those were b-sides from the AL recording sessions so let’s just say 2013. In that time, which is roughly 7 years, a lot has gone on in the Misery Signals‘ camp.
Many of those in the Misery Signals fanbase are aware that Karl Schubach had taken over the vocal duties when the original vocalist Jesse Zaraska and the band parted ways in late 2005. The band found themselves reunited with Jesse in 2014 for the “Of Malice…” 10-year anniversary tour. Shortly after that we all we informed that Karl had exited the band leaving those to wonder if Jesse would step back into his old role. Spoiler Alert: He did.
Once the band was back to its original line up in 2016, the band would post snippets of ideas and started to hint at “new music in the works”. The rumors and teasing would go on for nearly 4 long years after. Earlier this summer Misery Signals finally released a full length mastered single, “The Tempest”. This would be our first glimpse of the band’s sound after 7 years and also would be Jesse’s first time on new material with the band since 2004.
I can admit that I became a big fan of Karl’s vocals and that “Controller” was my favorite record the Misery Signals had put out. Karl at the time sounded different than a younger Jesse did in 2004. You most certainly encounter fans of the band that side with one vocalist over the other. I, myself thought I was one of those people. Preferring the lower scream of Karl to the more high pitched scream of Jesse. I had quite a bit of fear about how the new music would sound and how Jesse would fit in and sound on the new record.
The band released their second single “River King” off their upcoming album in June of this year. I had to listen to it over and over again. All my fears of how Jesse would fit into the matured version of Misery Signals were wiped away. Musically “River King” may very well the perfect Misery Signals song and even more so with Jesse being on it. Jesse’s voice is what truly blew me away on this track. He no longer had the high pitched scream and voice that we had come to love on the “Of Malice..” release, it had morphed into something darker, lower, angrier. I probably streamed that single over 100 times in the last two months. It probably was double that, but I don’t want to sound too much like a fanboy.
Up until last night, the two singles were all that I had heard until the advance finally hit my email (Thanks Stu). Since then I have done nothing but listen to it in full on repeat. It is an amazing piece of art and I’m not just talking about the cover (which was beautifully painted by Sam Octigan) either. Misery Signals has always had a very specific tone and sound musically. They beautifully blend elements hardcore, metalcore, and even prog-metal together in a melodic onslaught on the ear. As if they are all mad scientists knowing exactly what should go where and when.
Misery Signals‘ “Ultraviolet” is everything that any fan of the band could have asked for. It doesn’t matter on which side of the vocalist fence you stand on. This record is possibly the best Misery Signals record to ever come out. Yes, I am stating that knowing full well the impact “Of Malice..” had on the scene and how great “Controller” was in 2008. I have nothing but love for Karl, but hearing this record makes me somewhat curious as to how the band would have progressed if Jesse and the band never parted ways over 15 years ago. However, the band and Jesse probably needed to go down those different roads to arrive at this point now and to make this incredible record.
The album is a little less than 40 minutes long and contains 9 total songs, 7 new songs outside of the released singles. Just enough to leave you wishing and wanting more. I didn’t want to describe each and every track in my Misery Signals “Ultraviolet” review like most reviewers probably will do. I wanted to inform you that I had been looking forward to this record for a long time, even before it was announced. Also to lament about my fears for the record and for Jesse’s return. Now you know where I stood with the band and that I thoroughly enjoyed Misery Signals with Karl and was sad when he left. Not knowing what to really expect, pressing play on this release was nerve-wracking, to say the least.
I would have had no problem saying negative things about this record, even though Misery Signals is one of my favorite bands. All that being said, this record is one of the rare enigmas that are really impressive to me. Really REALLY impressive. It doesn’t feel like any gaps have happened over the years. It sounds like a more advanced version of the 2004 band. I honestly think each fan of the band will love this record (regardless of whatever team you’re on) and I also think this record will pull in a whole new group of younger kids into the fanbase and doing so without changing anything about the sound of the band. Very commendable, in this day and age. I gleefully look forward to seeing Misery Signals enter this new era and grow into it.
So bravo Misery Signals! You hit it out of the park on this release. I implore you the reader to pre-order the release through the band web-store and stream the hell out of it when it is released. It will be everything you ever wanted from the band. The only drawback is there is no timeline in place for us (the fanbase) to hear these songs live, even on a livestream performance. Hopefully, this Covid-19/Corona Virus stuff gets handled soon and we can resume bands touring and us attending concerts.
Did you enjoy my Misery Signals “Ultraviolet” review? Let me know what you thought of the album or of my review in the comments below.
(Sunlifter which was only available on the 2016 7-inch has been re-recorded with Jesse and is featured on this album)