Traitors to the death metal cause? No, total champions!
Death metal, by name alone, isn't going to be singing about all things happy and chirpy. Perhaps now more than ever, with today's current political and economic climate, some of the more socially conscious bands will surely have no end of source material. Enter guitarist/vocalist Mark Kloeppel, guitarist Sparky Voyles, bassist/vocalist Jason Netherton and drummer Adam Jarvis - also known as Baltimore Maryland's (U.S.A.) Misery Index with their third album, Traitors. The artwork alone says that recent times have provided plenty of inspiration for their latest slab of death and grind fused metal.
As the opening cut, We Never Come In Peace, settles in, over the course of the next two minutes of this predominantly instrumental lead track, the band's love of '90s death metal cannot be denied as the U.K.'s Cancer immediately comes to mind as a yardstick for comparison of style, and even production to a degree. The vibe of Cancer's classic album, 1992's Death Shall Rise, continues from here on in with Theocracy, a relatively dynamic track that ebbs and flows seamlessly with bursts of grind unleashing hell here and there. But it's the slower, chugging riffs of Partisans Of Grief and the outstanding Ghosts Of Catalonia that really show the band's talents with layers of textured guitar runs and some truly brilliant work from Jarvis behind the kit.
Grind heads will relish in the unrelenting title track, Traitors, and the equally furious Ruling Class Cancelled, although it is interesting to my ears that the production on the former is nowhere near that of the clean, well rounded production of the rest of the album. The same hollow sounding production also occurs with The Arbiter, an unexciting track on the whole anyways when compared to the likes of Occupation and American Idolatry. I don't think the brilliant Thrown Into The Sun could sound any more sinister than it already does thanks to the truly evil sounding opening that sets the scene for the album's slowest track. The segue to the finale, Black Sites, is the beginning of the end as their death/grind fury is showcased by excellent writing, making this the perfect finish to a flat out stormer of an album.
With death metal having been around for two decades plus now, I think it's fair to say that it's harder and harder to be original within the scene. Whilst originality counts, there's a lot more to be said for creating a monster such as Traitors even if it's not pushing the boundaries of originality. When fantastic song writing is coupled with tight musicianship such as this, the result undeniable - Traitors is quite simply Misery Index's strongest and most dynamic effort to date.
(Relapse Records/Riot! Entertainment)