I've never been a fan of hardcore, but I'm able to tell the difference between horrific clone bands and those which are actually doing something that sets them apart from the majority. This is the category in which Misery Signals belongs. Despite their changes of vocalists, which is considered a breaking point by some, I feel the band projects nothing but impressive sonic quality. I have no idea what the former singer sounds like, as Mirrors is the one and only album I've heard from Misery Signals.
New singer Karl Schubach is a perfect match to the band's raging, slightly complex and melodic brand of hardcore. He has a great raspy voice that is a pre-requisite for this form of music. Also, he can move into a calm, clean tone and deliver gripping harmonies. Although Schubach does most of the vocals on the album on his own, he is also occasionally backed up with killer harmonies from his band mates. On track five, "One Day I'll Stay Home", Patrick Stump makes a guest appearance on vocals, rendering the piece totally powerful. From its choppy opening riffs to the mesmerizing clean-vocal passages and multiple vocal harmonies, the song adds to the album's diversity. Another song, "Reverence Lost", is also a melodic statement in the brutal realms of hardcore and it also offerse a section with Schubach's clean vocals. However, his most impressive performance is on the title track: both passionate and aggressive, the way he repeats the "There is a choice to make" line becomes ultimately intense towards the end.
Drummer Branden Morgan has a great technique which he complements with a killer tone. The drum beat underlying a brooding guitar harmony on "Face Yourself" and the rolling, slightly technical drum workout on "The Failsafe" highlight his drumming talents. This song is one of the album's best. It goes from cool acoustic breaks to spattering cymbals and a strong mix of clean and screamed vocals. The band delves into heavier territory on "Post Collapse" where Schubach's vocals sound like almost death metal growls atop crushing machine-gun riffery. The three guitar players, Ryan Morgan, Stuart Ross, and Kyle Johnson, provide melodic guitar lines on "Sword of Eyes" while "An Offering to the Insatiable Sons of God (Butcher)" could as well appear on an Isis or Mastodon disc considering its repetitive, dense guitar drills that transform into an ominous drone at the end. The guitar players are unafraid to inject lots of effects into their sound and experiment with a multitude of sonics. On the bass front, "Something Was Always Missing But It Was Never You" grooves madly and exerts a deep, blissful bass solo.
The production is great and helps glorify the music. Also of note is the interesting member pictures in the booklet - they're definitely worth checking out.
- Face Yourself
- The Failsafe
- Post Collapse
- One Day I'll Stay Home
- Something Was Always Missing, But It Was Never You
- Reverence Lost
- Sword of Eyes
- An Offering to the Insatiable Sons of God (Butcher)