Misery Signals - Controller (Cover Artwork)

Misery Signals

Misery Signals: ControllerController (2008)
Ferret Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: elliotelliot
(others by this writer | submit your own)

A hardcore band in 2008 has a lot to keep up with. As much as I hate having to type this word, "deathcore" is setting swooped hair a-fluttering and selling tons of records; macho breakdown bands like Emmure are somehow able to get wrestler Kurt Angle on their album cover; and the sing-y chorus thing.
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A hardcore band in 2008 has a lot to keep up with. As much as I hate having to type this word, "deathcore" is setting swooped hair a-fluttering and selling tons of records; macho breakdown bands like Emmure are somehow able to get wrestler Kurt Angle on their album cover; and the sing-y chorus thing refuses to die. For Misery Signals, this is an even bigger dilemma, as they have built their name by using difficult time meters and odd song structures. But their last album, Mirrors, showed a band maybe second-guessing their inaccessible ideas and smoothing a few edges, while still creating their strongest effort yet.

Now with Controller, Misery Signals are smoothing out even more edges, but producing a few less compelling results. Extended instrumental passages in "Coma" and "Reset" are pleasant but not interesting at all. It's the first time on a Misery Signals record where you could fall asleep for a couple minutes and not really miss anything, proof that melodic variety can harm rather than help. While Misery Signals have always meticulously crafted their songs, they just didn't quite fill their normal quota of memorable riffs. Most disappointing is "A Certain Death," the most underdeveloped song on here, but somehow Controller's first single. It barely cracks three minutes, and that's only because they draw out the final riff for too long.

"A Certain Death" also features the first melodic singing from vocalist Karl Schubach, a jarring experience to say the least. He sings even more on "Ebb and Flow." Schubach's singing isn't unbearable, but is probably unnecessary, since he got by just fine before this without it. He has also dropped his vocals to an even lower pitch than on Mirrors, taking on a more guttural delivery. Schubach sounds fantastic with this, but when it's happening in not-so-heavy parts, he's a bit out of place with the band, going at it too harshly.

Awkward moments aside, the moments where Schubach's roar does connect are everywhere. Far and away the best song on Controller, "Set In Motion" has superb guitar work from Ryan Morgan and Stu Ross, and ends with Schubach bellowing in urgency the command, "Burn it down / Burn it to the fucking ground / It's not going to stop," with the band providing a thunderous punctuation. It's a perfect summary of what Misery Signals can do. The previously mentioned lull in "Reset" gives way to "Homecoming," a devastating epic with huge riffs, closing the album with a succinct statement: "Within me, the spell is broken."

Every Karl Schubach lyric is delivered with passion, but I'm hoping that they really do break this spell of near compromise in their sound. All they need to do is be crushing, but still challenging. When they do that, they reign as maybe the best band of their genre, even if it doesn't sell them as many records. What do the kids know, anyway?


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
ZackAttacks (April 22, 2009)

this album rips. If you do not find the incredibly complex and intensely woven collaborations of these incredible musicians then you should listen to Coldplay. Misery kills every band in the genre, their live show, their skill, and their cohesiveness is seen throughout all of their albums and Controller is just another contribution to their amazing journey. they are core, they do not compromise anything and they execute exactly how they intend. I am sure they could care less what you think of their album.

ThomPunkAheaddotcom (September 14, 2008)

@ moneenerd - a massive arena band?? I don't think MS will ever be that nor a band playing their style. The album sounds less unique to me like Of Malice (and Mirrors in my opinon, I think that's really underrated in parts) but I've heard from many people how they really like this - people who didn't care for the first albums and certainly don't like bands in the 'metalcore' (writing that word makes me shudder) genre. Plus I'm pretty confident, MS is full of pretty good dudes, Stu Ross for instance seems to be popular amongst great Canadian bands (and going off the album recording videos on youtube/their myspace blog always makes me laugh pretty hard)

moneenerd (September 11, 2008)

MySpace Signals.

Of Malice... was an amazing album. It was a metalcore kids dream come true -- the ashes of Compromise and 7A7P playing together as a new band. Mirrors and Controller are both massive steps back. There is nothing new, challenging, technical, or even awe-inspiring on either of these records, and the vocals suck fucking shit. MS is too hell bent on making GIANT MASSIVE ARENA ROCK EPIC records instead of just making a solid HC record, which they did with Of Malice...These past 2 albums with the myspace guy are lacking big time.

RYANGP (September 11, 2008)

this album kicks the shit out of Mirrors. I happen to really like the instrumental parts; they're good breathing room for the rest of the album. As for Schubach singning, at first it's a little jarring and awkward, but it's really not bad.

ThomPunkAheaddotcom (September 11, 2008)

i thought Mirrors was pretty good and Of Malice too but really dunno about this... Thought it sucked at first unfortunately, after several listens to 'A Certain Death' though I really enjoy it though doesn't really have what makes me love Misery Signals in it (no real technical parts, sounds very simplistic compared to their other stuff).

Overall the album sounds a little over-produced, I can't stand the how they've lowered the pitch on the vocals - that's probably my main issue with this, I think it's really unnecessary and ruins it really for me

danperrone (September 11, 2008)

best metalcore band around...this and mirrors seriously get me fucking amped

grownfromthecold (September 11, 2008)

I wouldn't say he sounds like a boy-band... Linkin Park sounds like a boy-band. The singing on this record is actually really good IMO.

the_problem_with_fire (September 10, 2008)

my problem isn't with the fact he can sing, it's that he sounds like he's in a boy band when he does it. those kind of vocals really don't fit into this music well. you can sing without sounding like you're reciting dashboard confessional lyrics to your girlfriend.

grownfromthecold (September 10, 2008)

Why does everyone have such a fucking problem with clean vocals? I don't get it... The guy can hit notes, let him sing... Since when did a good voice become not good music? WTF?

the_problem_with_fire (September 10, 2008)

the "single" for certain death turned me off. some cool riffs but anytime i hear this band pull out the dreaded clean melodic vocals, i cringe and it makes me not want to buy this or listen to it. cut that shit out.

chips (September 10, 2008)

My biggest complaint on this album, and something that spoils it for me is Shubach's growls. His technique is wonderful, but his delivery is really monotonous, and as the reviewer said, it clashes with the softer parts on the album. In contrast with Mirrors, where I thought his vocals were better. They seemed more passionate and had more urgency to them, yet still had quite a bit of power behind them.

Aside from the vocals, I find that alot of the riffs aren't as memorable for me, and the album falls flat in alot of places.

grownfromthecold (September 10, 2008)

Sweet cover too.

IamMclovin (September 10, 2008)

MS outdid themselves with this one. One of my favorites for the year.

grownfromthecold (September 10, 2008)

Good gravy, this album is delicious.

jaradyeah (September 10, 2008)

I'm lovin this album, the bell parts get me hard.

I agree about Karl's singing though. I saw them do a certain death live and ugh, he was way off key in that part. Otherwise a kickass band live though.

Thus_Spoke_Sean (September 10, 2008)

i havent heard this yet, but I picked up Mirrors based solely on how much i liked the single off that album....

unfortunately the rest of the album wasnt that great, it was ok, just not great. The first single off this album SUCKS. so I probably wont bother.

Mixhail (September 10, 2008)

wow, this review is pretty rough on the album. I consider this the best metal album released this year and their best album since their debut. To say that their instrumental passages are boring is definitely ignorant of what makes Misery Signals so great: their seamless ability to keep their melodic parts technical and fresh, and no so that they can be poppy and/or ala Killswitch Engage, but to create atmosphere... and segments like these haven't been dong right since the days of "Satellite Years" era- .hopesfall. "Ebb and Flow" is an amazing song and one of my favorite metal songs of the year... Karl's vocal range isn't bad and it doesn't feel forced like most other melodic metalcore bands (i'm looking at you Tommy Rodgers of BTBAM). There's nary a bad song on the disc and somehow they even keep their breakdowns interesting and distinctive (especially on "Ebb and Flow" and "Labyrinthian"). And it appears as if the only reason you are critical of "A Certain Death" is because its not heavy enough. Granted, a simple metalcore fan with a lack of appreciation for variation of styles and a thirst for only "crushing" mosh parts won't completely enjoy the song. Its a good single though if you want to showcase MS's ability to display different musical influences and melodic segments though... two aspects of the band that i feel are instrumental in making them stand out in the diluted metalcore scene.

Mirrors was a disappointing album with a bad production job, some rather generic songs and a strange guest appearance from Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy. Devin Townsend (of Strapping Young Lad fame, who helped produce Darkest Hour's last two great albums) pretty much saved this band on Controller and got them doing what they do best: creating a moving atmospheric sound that gives the album as a whole a cohesive feel. He helped make their first album great and he gets these guys on the right path again.

my only qualm with the album is that they need to include another instrumental track reminiscent of "Worlds and Dreams" from their first disc. Their strength as a band lies not in their SICK bonecrushing breakdowns brah or their fast, technical riffs-- its in their tight appreciation and implementation of progressive and space rock musical themes.

treos (September 10, 2008)


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