Rituals of Power, Misery Index's masterful previous release was one of my favorite records of 2019 so when I received the band's newest LP, Complete Control, I was expecting a great deal from this two decade old Baltimore-based quartet. After listening to Complete Control oh-so-many times, I can safely say at this point that I am not at all disappointed. Without any doubt, this is a worthy follow-up that expertly blends the heaviest of metal with punk-inspired rage and consciousness.
"The Eaters and the Eaten," which is such a classic Misery Index song title, is a ferocious, blistering three minutes and forty sections of extreme metal perfection. The accompanying video by J.T. Ibanez is so unmistakably Misery Index as well. The riffs, the percussion and the alternating vocals come together in a manner that gives plenty of space for each. It's the details not only in the songwriting but in the production that put this band in the highest levels of respectability.
"Complete Control" has that signature Jason Netherton bass tone that we've come to both appreciate and expect throughout the past two decades (for another great exemplar of that tone check out "Hammering the Nails" from Rituals of Power). When you mesh this with the guitar leads at the hands of Darin Morris you get this extremely tight, well-composed track that's more addictive than the very best Baltimore pit beef.
There are going to be many rhythms that sound familiar to Misery Index fans, as those found on burners like "Necessary Suffering." This particular cut seems is perfectly written for the circle pit at the Baltimore Soundstage. I can picture Baltimore's most visible metal fan, the Chicken Man, getting it going at the strum of the first chord.
Speaking of Baltimore, the second single from the record, "Infiltrators," features clips of the city's bleak, post-industrial landscapes that are reticent of a city government that has continuously failed it's residents. While we know that Baltimore has come to be one of the greatest cities in the nation for metal, sadly, it's one of the most bleak. Not surprising that a band called "Misery Index," calls this their home. The song itself though is groovy as all hell with precision production and signature technicality.
The tells that, “’Infiltrators’ is certainly the most hardcore-tinged song on the album (as well as the shortest). The lyrics target those who spew divisive, dehumanizing ideologies. It’s an outright rejection (and admittedly a strong one) of those who support and apologize for these people and their anti-social, fascistic worldviews.” This keeps the band in line with their history of strong lyrics that don't mince words but also don't come off as overly preachy
While some may complain that Misery Index has strayed significantly from their days which encompassed more of a grind sound, there is little here that can really disappoint. Misery Index has evolved a bit with every record and their musicianship and songcraft continuously move up the ladder. In fact, there are few bands out there who excel at the technical aspects of songwriting as much as this foursome does.
Overall, if you're a fan of Misery Index you're going to love this record. If you're not a fan of Misery Index or new to the genre, Complete Control is an excellent exemplar. It has everything you're going to want. This record immediately became a go-to staple in my office listening rotation and I don't see this moving to the back of the bin anytime soon.