Misery Signals - Of Malice and the Magnum Heart (Cover Artwork)

Misery Signals

Of Malice and the Magnum Heart (2004)

Ferret Music

If there's one thing lacking in metalcore today, it's passion. There are so many bands out there who are doing the exact same thing as the next, going through the standard motions of "breakdown, metal riffage, scream." For a while, it seemed that the genre was dead, with no hope of being revived.

Enter Misery Signals. Their new album, "Of Malice and the Magnum Heart," has shot a much-needed dose of passion and creativity into metalcore's veins. Whereas most bands sound like they only take about five minutes to write their songs, Misery Signals offer up unusually complex time signatures, exceptional guitarwork, and daunting experimentation, like on the instrumental "Worlds & Dreams." However, there are hardly any times where it sounds like Misery Signals is getting ahead of themselves. This band exudes a confidence and assuredness that few bands in their league can. Misery Signals have perfected the art of the breakdown. The all-to-standard open chord chugging that you hear everyday is not good enough for them. Challenging time signatures and strumming patterns are sprinkled all over the album, pummeling the listener, but still breaking new ground.

Vocalist Jesse Zaraska, formerly of the band Compromise, writes lyrics that put all of those pseudo-poets of metalcore to shame. His words and scenarios are direct, to-the-point diatribes that scorn those who have done him wrong, and pay tribute to those he has lost. Compromise split up because of a van accident that killed two of their members. In "The Year Summer Ended In June," Zaraska offers us every bit of his heart to tell us about the experience of losing his close friends. He talks to them, with the line "Waiting to see and be with you again/Wishing the best for you, my lost friends/to hear you laugh one last time/I hope you know I tried to find those pictures, Jordo." The emotions that went into these lyrics is so palpable, it's nearly impossible to listen to this song and not feel what Zaraska is feeling.

The rest of the songs are equally great. Not one moment on this album sounds forced or fake. Misery Signals is the real deal. For once, we have a band that actually is passionate, without overdoing it. If the world of metalcore made sense, Misery Signals would rise to the top and rule over everyone else. And with only one full-length album to their credit, who knows what kind of amazing music they still have in them.