(This is Todd Manning’s review of the debut EP by Australia’s mysterious Miserist.)
A new year is upon us and there’s no reason to believe we’re not just one more step closer to the carnivorous abyss. No wonder extreme music just gets nastier and more oppressive, the most recent torchbearers coming in the form of the Australian mystery collective Miserist. This self-titled debut EP is a cavern-borne Death/Industrial hybrid, and strangely, considering the style, entirely instrumental. This one facet proves to be most compelling, coming across as a strange absence at first, but then as an abstraction upon repeated listens. The more one listens, the more this one facet opens itself up to speculation about the thought process behind the decision.
For the most part, Miserist alternate between devastating yet obscure slabs of blast-beat-driven Death Metal, often reminiscent of the mighty Portal, and more mid-paced Industrial-fueled sludge. Without vocals, the music becomes both inhuman and weightless; even the most straightforward riffs become atmospheric. And there is a layer of grime and filth overlaying the whole affair as well. The listener is invited to imagine all sorts of post-apocalyptic futures stimulated by their assault.
To this end, the drums in particular also form an important component of Miserist’s sound. They are cold and mechanical, but are simultaneously massive and powerful. The beats move along with a certain relentless momentum at any tempo, devoid of mercy or consideration. They give the EP its sense of Industrial influence, more so than any element of electronics, capturing a mood that can only be described as inhuman. That being said, the occasional sample and noise-based drone texture do much to emphasis the EP’s dark aura and propel Miserist further into unknowable darkness.
The fact of the matter is, it is becoming less and less unusual to hear bands exhibiting a Portal or Mitochondrion influence, and there is certainly no shortage of Death Metal bands who let their Industrial flag fly either. But this might be one of the first I can think of who combine those two subsets into one. Add to that the fact that Miserist is an instrumental outfit and you have a recipe for individuality.
The short runtime of the EP format leaves me wondering a bit how they would fare on a longer album. Perhaps they would need to add a few twists and turns to keep the listener’s attention, but here, everything works perfectly. So if you dig the more obscure end of Death Metal and are looking for something that stands on its own, Miserist might just be what you need.
Miserist’s self-titled debut EP will be released on CD and digital on February 13 by Krucyator Productions (France).