Misery Index – Complete Control Review

A no-frills, hardworking deathgrind unit, Misery Index remain a dependably vicious and gritty act some twenty-plus years into a stellar, yet arguably underappreciated career. While well known within extreme metal circles, Misery Index often escape the limelight, and despite forays into modern death metal territory, the uncompromising outfit continue embracing their punk, hardcore and grindy roots to powerful effect. Now some three years since they dropped the solid Rituals of Power, Misery Index unleash their seventh LP, entitled Complete Control. Although I gave a favorable score to 2019’s Rituals of Power, in the intervening years it hasn’t surpassed my go-to Misery Index albums in the rotation, so I was curious to see if Misery Index can retain their edge and keep the creative fires burning.

Complete Control marks another barnstorming effort from the Baltimore bruisers, featuring a line-up that has stayed steady for over a decade, led by band founder and bassist/vocalist Jason Netherton (ex-Dying Fetus). Fears of a dulling of their ferocious and tightly wound attack were eliminated pre-release with the three singles, comprising the melodically adventurous, yet punishing stomp of the title track, beastly pummel and groove of “Infiltrators,” and blistering old school Misery Index vibes bursting through the rugged core of, “The Eaters and the Eaten.” The trio of deathly delights represent a band with plenty of fire in the belly, pulling from the hardcore punk-grind influences of their early days, as well as the slickly oiled, riff-stacked death machine of their more recent material. It’s the darker tone and thrashing intensity that solidifies the fact Misery Index are not content to rest on their laurels and coast along in their veteran years.

Misery Index have always stuck to a lean, mean, fat-free formula and Complete Control is no exception, clocking-in at a perfectly concise 33 minutes. It’s a succinct formula that has served them well. After all, flash and overt experimentation has never been their bag. However, that is not to suggest Complete Control is a rehash of past glories or a comfort zone album. As mentioned earlier, Complete Control encompasses elements across their career without deviating drastically off their well treaded creative path. While not as instantly memorable as its predecessor, there is ample substance and solid songcraft on offer. Complete Control feels more frantic and unhinged in comparison to Rituals of Power, yet also boasts rugged grooves, headbangable riffs, and a strong melodic bent to feast upon. “Administer the Dagger” features strained hardcore-ish vocals lending an aggressive, ominous urgency to the slow-building moodiness and eventual grinding chaos that ensues. The occasional guitar solo ripping through the band’s toughened exterior provides some welcome melodic flair.

“Necessary Suffering” kicks your arse to the curb and stomps you into the gutter with an invigorating mix of streetwise grooves and frenetic deathgrind workouts. Complete Control shifts between belligerent groove-laden death and hardcore and grind-infused ragers with aplomb. The wicked “Conspiracy of None” features steroid jacked hardcore and sick death metal chunk, while short furious cuts like the aforementioned “Infiltrators” and closing “Now Defied!” offer compact nuggets of infectious, concentrated speed and aggression. With steady line-up in tow, it is no surprise Misery Index continue to sound as tight and pummeling as ever. Netherton and always impressive drummer Adam Jarvis (Pig Destroyer, Lock-Up) create a formidably sturdy backbone, both cushioning and propelling the assault, and providing a platform for Mark Kloeppel and Darin Morris’s meaty guitars, melodic leads, and violent, thrashing riffs. Netherton and kloeppel’s dual vocals possess a no-frills yet expressive rage and subtle dynamics to polish things off.

There is an argument the front half of Complete Control sets the bar a little too high for the enjoyable second half to usurp, and the loud mastering could use some warmth and dynamic depth, otherwise, there is little to be unhappy about here. Where Complete Control sits within Misery Index’s might discography remains uncertain. Although it may not produce the more immediate gratification of its predecessor, I can imagine Complete Control boasting greater longevity and staying power as the months march on. Misery Index sound as sharp, gritty and bludgeoning as ever, delivering another taut, swaggering collection of brutal yet wonderfully accessible tunes that’s a no-brainer for fans of the band and a solid starting off point for the curious listener.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
LabelCentury Media
Websitesmiseryindex.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/miseryindex
Releases Worldwide: May 13th, 2022

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