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Misery Signals - Absent Light Album Cover

Misery Signals - Absent Light

Reviewed by
7.0
Misery Signals - Absent Light
Release Date: July 23, 2013
Record Label: Basick Records
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
Long awaited would be an understatement when beginning to address Misery Signals's reactivation. After all, it has been five years - a virtual eternity - since we've heard any new material. Yet the demand for more was high as made evident by an immensely successful IndieGoGo campaign, which raked in over $100,000. Of course, expectations would be high and fortunately for us, they've been met. Misery Signals have not faltered in their steps nor have they lost the edge that made their first three albums so beloved among fans and in the genre.

The band's career resumes with the aptly titled "A Glimmer of Hope." Symphonic elements and clean instrumentation progressively accentuate rising tones and juxtapose against Karl Shubach's decimating vocals. This buildup leads straight into the bombastic "Luminary," which highlights thrash elements and immensely complex rhythm work, as provided by bassist Kyle Johnson and drummer Branden Morgan. Soon after doom-tinged overtones merge with more orchestral aspects, much like the more recent works of Bleeding Through and As I Lay Dying, but in a way that is not overdone or cheaply replicated. Right from the start, we are reassured that the core of Misery Signals is still front and center, complete with jolting key shifts, odd metered riffing, and the abrasive atmosphere.

The vast majority of the album continues in such a fashion, in regards to the heavier aspects but many of the same portions serve as a fairly unfamiliar testament to the intricate melody composition, mostly by the grace of guitarists Ryan Morgan and Gregory Thomas. Improved arrangements and stylistic riffs continually maintain punishing verses but often illuminate brilliant bridges and quiescent transitional periods, breaking any monotony that was a persistent problem on Controller. Especially with tracks such as "Lost Relics" and "The Shallows," this aspect is not overdone but proficiently incorporated to enrich each song as a whole, rather than serve as a distraction or compensation for lackluster moments, thus contributing to the sense that everything is very well placed and intentional. This feature, along with the masterful rhythm, is the core of Absent Light, as they provide naturally flowing direction that ultimately leads to strong climaxes and progresses the traditional Misery Signals brand in a fashion that appeases to stylized metalcore both now and when the band was in major activity.

However strong these traits may be, the album isn't without its blemishes. Unfortunately, Shubach can still be as monotone as ever, though it does not diminish the intensity his guttural vocals bring. Yet, this subjectively negative aspect is typically countered by precise timing and phrasing, as there are few points on Absent Light where a single element is repeated too often or is dragged on. Most tracks are versatile enough to change musical course in a way that makes sense, and Shubach never goes on for too long, but only enough for intelligent emphasis, so as to assign more energy to particularly aggressive moments. As unfortunate as it is though, Misery Signals have been inactive during a period of time in which their sound could have exploded. Instead, they have revived, with Absent Light, in an era where the same sound has grown tired and exhausted its own signature characteristics. It's just sad that the album's biggest flaw is its timing in relation to the band's lifespan and that of the genre, as Misery Signals are five years too late to a game they could have been the champions of.

But regardless, we asked for a new album. We demanded it, maybe so much as to donating to the campaign held to create it earlier in the year. In the end, we got exactly what we wanted. Absent Light, however late it may have been due, can be considered the keystone in the band's discography, a foothold for the reinvigorated, reenergized path that lies ahead. Take a look at "Ursa Minor" and "Everything Will Rust," the final two tracks on Absent Light, and by extension, two of the best in Misery Signal's complete body of work. Both showcase untapped potential in melody and performance, which are begging to be explored further in future material. Guest vocals all throughout the album are fantastically delivered, especially that of Bad Rabbit's Fredua Boakye. All of these wonderful features, backed by the demand of fans, reinforce the collaborative effort and the community mentality that can actually make stylized metalcore feel intimate and approachable, and ultimately inspire and cultivate stellar tracks to a high greatness, one that when developed fully has the ability to completely knock listeners off of their feet. It is fitting then to have titled their comeback Absent Light. Misery Signals very well may have filled that role.

But only time will tell.

7/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 16
05:08 AM on 07/25/13
#2
lie_in_ruin
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I have been loving this album so far.
10:13 AM on 07/25/13
#3
lovemetal24
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And the 15 year old girls say......who?
11:01 AM on 07/25/13
#4
Archael
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did not enjoy this record at all.
11:01 AM on 07/25/13
#5
circletheworld
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how do you call this album "late to the game"? better than everything else in this genre right now.. THey're ahead of it.
11:12 AM on 07/25/13
#6
Steve Alcala
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how do you call this album "late to the game"? better than everything else in this genre right now.. THey're ahead of it.

I'm speaking of popularity.
11:25 AM on 07/25/13
#7
promisemedan
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I've only heard two tracks from this, but intend to check it out. I do agree that if this had come out a few years ago, I would've been way more excited to check it out.
12:33 PM on 07/25/13
#8
WeltallAY
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Really surprised that people gave this a 40%?!
12:50 PM on 07/25/13
#9
Archael
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Really surprised that people gave this a 40%?!
only one person voted, and it was me so...
01:58 PM on 07/25/13
Nightmare7
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how do you call this album "late to the game"? better than everything else in this genre right now.. THey're ahead of it.
Yeah, I agree with this. I'm a huge Misery Signals fanboy so I might be a little biased, but yeah, I don't see how it's late to the game at all. I know that metalcore isn't as big as it used to be, and I'm certainly not as into the genre as I used to be, but Misery Signals truly has a sound of their own. I think this album is pretty damn unique and goes places that I've never heard a metalcore album go before.
02:14 PM on 07/25/13
Steve Alcala
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Yeah, I agree with this. I'm a huge Misery Signals fanboy so I might be a little biased, but yeah, I don't see how it's late to the game at all. I know that metalcore isn't as big as it used to be, and I'm certainly not as into the genre as I used to be, but Misery Signals truly has a sound of their own. I think this album is pretty damn unique and goes places that I've never heard a metalcore album go before.

This is the point I'm making. Had this album come out 5 years ago, it would have been what bands try to copy now. It would have exploded Misery Signals to a bigger popularity. This album is gonna be overlooked since its coming out now, as opposed to then.

Both of you are putting it in terms of the way this album sounds, not of their popularity. I agree entirely that this album is different from a vast majority of what is out now.
02:47 PM on 07/25/13
circletheworld
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This is the point I'm making. Had this album come out 5 years ago, it would have been what bands try to copy now. It would have exploded Misery Signals to a bigger popularity. This album is gonna be overlooked since its coming out now, as opposed to then.

Both of you are putting it in terms of the way this album sounds, not of their popularity. I agree entirely that this album is different from a vast majority of what is out now.
I think they are at the height of their popularity. Its not like they were at an Underoath level of popularity to begin with. They were always that smaller band that was direct support, and it seems like they are ok with it.
02:50 PM on 07/25/13
Steve Alcala
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I think they are at the height of their popularity. Its not like they were at an Underoath level of popularity to begin with. They were always that smaller band that was direct support, and it seems like they are ok with it.
Right, but my argument is that they could have been at that level of popularity, or that this album could have received the attention it deserves, had it been released before people got tired of metalcore.
07:09 AM on 07/26/13
Supernovacaine
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its a good album. i was hoping to like it more, granted i was never a massive Misery Signals fan to begin with.. it seems like this record won't gain them many new fans, but it'll definitely appease their core fanbase
08:45 AM on 07/26/13
HanLuk
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So awesome how Dua is featured on this.

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