Misfire – Sympathy for the Ignorant Review

Fairly often, someone in the comment section of one of our reviews will point out that different genres seem to have different scoring scales at Angry Metal Guy. While I don’t believe this to necessarily be true in a collective sense, I’ve certainly noticed that I, as an individual, often experience genres differently. Sometimes I wonder how much the speed of the material impacts the scoring range. For instance, while I love classic doom metal, the clean vocals and the slower, simpler, instrumentation of the style gives the material more obvious chances to flounder than say, your standard death metal album. It’s almost as if the more exposed a band’s sound is, the greater the burden of proof is upon the band’s performance. Of course, this isn’t an exact science, but I generally find thrash to be one of those too-fast-to-fail styles. A decent vocalist combined with an album’s worth of decent riffs gives a thrash album a decent chance at a decent score. But, for this same reason, it can also be hard for thrash bands to truly break free from the pack. Let’s see if Chicago’s Misfire can leave a mark on the genre and avoid living up to their name.

Sympathy for the Ignorant is ten tracks and 38 minutes of groove-centric thrash metal. Misfire’s sound walks the line between pure thrash and crossover and really doesn’t care which side of the line you want it to stage-dive into. I hear similarities to some of the big-name crossover bands like Enforced and Power Trip, but the most obvious comparison will probably be brought about by the sound of Jay Johnson’s vocals. His voice is the spitting image of Phil Anselmo’s and is an appropriate match for a band who describes their sound as “projecting the purity of what three musicians raised on Pantera and the Big 4 sound like in a room together.” And it’s hard to find fault with that description. Single “Red Flag” will give you a great sample of what this power trio can do. A staccato intro gives way to a bouncing groove riff, then some nifty, frenetic Megadeth guitar work leads into a scrumptious guitar solo. So far, so good...so what…

One of the best things about Sympathy for the Ignorant is how effortless it feels. The album is filled with memorable riffs, and while the vocals will certainly remind you of Anselmo, Misfire is more than just another Pantera clone. These songs reinforce why thrash was so fun in its heyday. “Fractured” takes the viciousness of Slayer and mixes it with the crossover stomp of Enforced to open things in fantastic fashion. “War of Mine” and “Death Trap” keep towards the heavier, more extreme end of the spectrum, while the punk quotient gets dialed up on “No Offense” and “He Said She Said.” You can tell that these guys eat, sleep, live, and breath old thrash and groove records—their sound channels the spirits of the classics without aping any of them—and you can tell that they had a hell of a lot of fun writing these songs.

While the whole record flies by enjoyably, a couple of the songs—the ones with acronymic titles (L.Y.S. and R.I.P.)—failed to implant themselves into my memory after as many spins (10? 12?—I’m not sure) as the stupid stream format would allow me to have. It’s a minor complaint, but it ultimately holds Sympathy for the Ignorant back from true greatness. The production was apparently handled by bassist and backup vocalist Sean Coogan. You can tell the bassist was at the helm, because his playing is an active participant in the band’s sound as it noodles and thunders away throughout the album’s entire runtime. Overall, the record sounds great, as evidenced by standout tracks like “Fractured,” “Red Flag,” “War of Mine,” “Death Trap,” “No Offense,” and the title track.

Misfire may not be pushing the limits of what thrash can do, but they execute the style with passion and authenticity. I had so much fun during my limited spins here that I was tempted to add an extra 0.5 onto the score, but ultimately, Sympathy for the Ignorant is just a good, solid thrash album. I’ll certainly be interested to hear what these guys do next. I think they have the talent and hunger to produce something great in the future.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: NA | Format Reviewed: An Inconvenient Stream
Label: MNRK Heavy
Websites: misfireofficial.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/misfireofficial
Releases Worldwide: April 1st, 2022

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