New vocalist, new approach but familiar ideas
With the release of their debut full length effort Of Malice And The Magnum Heart (Their follow up to their self titled E.P. from 2003) back in 2004, Wisconsin based metalcore act Misery Signals looked set for a bright future in the scene with their interesting mix of aggressive hardcore, melodic moments and their undeniable technical proficiency shown within their compositions. But for all the promise held within the band, it wasn't enough to keep them all together, with vocalist Jesse Zaraska (Who has since resurfaced in the indie/acoustic rock outfit SleepingGirl) parting ways with the remainder of the band (Guitarists Ryan Morgan and Stuart Ross, bassist Kyle Johnson and drummer Branden Morgan) in 2005. Wasting little time, the band held open auditions with an instrumental track on their website, and soon announced Karl Schubach (Who prior to taking on the front man position, considered himself a guitarist) as their new vocalist.
With Ben Schigel (Walls Of Jericho, Zao, Chimaira, Ringworm) behind the console (As co-producer, mixer and engineer), Misery Signals re-entered the studio, with Mirrors the long awaited follow up to their critically acclaimed debut.
Any change of line-up has an effect on a group's sound, and it's no different for Misery Signals with new vocalist Schubach. The opening track Face Yourself doesn't hold back in any way in the brutality stakes, with Schubach's savage presence matching the straight forward sounding aggression of the rest of the group are clearly aiming for. While the simplicity of the opening track may throw a few older fans off course, the follow up track The Failsafe is more in line with what's normally expected from the band, with the complexities evident within the constant shifts in pace and style (Gentle atmospherics punctuate the seething attacking moments), while Schubach has varied his vocal approach to incorporate some melodic clean singing.
Switching back to the straightforward approach of the opener are Post Collapse, the epic title track Mirrors and Anchor, while the gentle (Apart from the vocals) Migrate, One Day I'll Stay Home (By far the catchiest number on the album) and An Offering To The Insatiable Sons Of God (Butcher) (Which borders on Isis/Neurosis territory for the first minute and a half) demonstrate the different textures that Misery Signals are able to summon up, which in turn make them stand out from most within the metalcore scene.
Mirrors doesn't quite overshadow their debut, but it doesn't mean that it's a failure either. Schubach's approach is different to that of his predecessor, which inevitably gives Mirrors a different feel, which in turn makes Mirrors one of the more interesting metalcore releases to emerge in recent times.
(Ferret Music/Stomp Records Distribution)