Misery - From Where the Sun Never Shines (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


From Where the Sun Never Shines (2012)


Apparently, if you're an influential crust punk band, the thing to do is not release a full-length for about two decades, and then out of the blue, release your best album to date. From Where the Sun Never Shines, Misery's first LP since 1994, follows this trend and then some.

Founders of what has become known as "Minneapolis Crust" Misery were one of the first American crust punk bands, blending together the energy of Discharge with the grimy smash of Motorhead and dark-hippiesh lyrics of Black Sabbath. While From Where the Sun Never Shines doesn't introduce any radical new elements into the mixture, each piece is so perfectly whittled down to its essential parts and fitted with the others, it makes the album feel innovative, and if not that, then at least an exercise of precise craftsmanship.

Most noticeable is how much the album rocks. Most modern crust punk is so concerned with sounding heavy or evil or whatever that it sinks from music to a parade of nasty, lumbering sounds. Yet here, Misery teass through 14 tracks, a few of which are lengthy, with the energy (but not sound) of the Ramones. By keeping the energy level high and building a shell of thick, nasty barking over the top, the band forge an aggression that invigorates as opposed to wearing down the listener.

While the band fit punk and metal together well, they also perform the difficult (and often self-contradictory) feat of mixing together crust punk's penchant for mysticism with modern politics. Unlike some of the UK counterparts, Misery does use a sort of mysticism, but leaves it up to the listener to determine if their prophetic callings are for real or just metaphors for modern problems. "Mother Nature" finds the band anthropomorphizing the earth itself with lyrics like "Mother nature! She's crying! Mother nature, she's dying… she's dead!" But, further, Misery points the finger straight at us with "We are not an intelligent being / Just parasites digging too deep." But then, just as the band does exalt the higher sense, they pull it back down with the directly political "Iron Age" where the band forefully rebukes "It's a fuel of filth which we use to survive/on the dead of past years which we've based our lives."

Fittingly, the album's end features a cover of Amebix's "I.C.B.M." It's proper in that the whole album almost feels like the American take on that LP. The band rampage forward, maintaining a massive heaviness, all while mixing the political with the pagan. It's too bad that it takes almost 20 years for albums like this to germinate, but if that's the incubation time, let's hope Mother Earth is prepping the seeds of another as we speak.