(In this post, DGR reviews the absolutely blistering, chaotic new offering of death metal insanity from Sweden’s Miseration.)
For those of you not familiar with Miseration, this is one of Christian Älvestam’s many projects. For such a prominent vocalist, his list of endeavors is unsurprisingly lengthy, but Miseration have been going for a while as a death-metal-focused pet project between Älvestam and musician Jani Stefanović, who is responsible for the guitar work on this new album but previously also recorded the drums, bass, rhythm, and lead.
The band made a solid debut in the densely packed release Your Demons, Their Angels, but truly got people talking with the absolutely relentless slaughter of their 2009 album, The Mirroring Shadow. After that, the band seemed to have drifted in limbo for a time, but have now returned with a rebuilt lineup and their third release, Tragedy Has Spoken.
Stylistically, it serves to combine the two previous records, creating a longer and even more pressure-packed version of their music. It has the speed and almost ridiculous drumming of The Mirroring Shadow, while lengthening the songs to the more epic timestamps that filled out Your Demons, Their Angels. The songs are now more fully fleshed-out, whereas on The Mirroring Shadow they were a massive wall of blasts and guitars. It’s a different album than what has come before, but goddamn if it isn’t interesting — to say the least.
It’s more than interesting: When you fervently hope, as I have, that a band like this will capture people’s attentions, it’s great to hear Tragedy Has Spoken. You hear the music, and you hope that this will help inspire a newer generation, who (I hope) will take what they can from this insanity and eventually make kick-ass music of their own. All I can say is, man, it is nice to see Miseration putting out music again. Well, I can say more . . .
For a small block of time, it seemed as if neither Miseration nor Solution .45 (who share a couple of band members) were going to be doing much more due to motivation/health issues. That sucked, because while Solution .45 were something of a Scar Symmetry replicant with the original vocalist at the helm, Miseration had just put out a really solid blast of death metal in the form of The Mirroring Shadow. My hopes were restored once I saw that the band had put out a video for a by-then two-year-old song and had started work on a new disc, which would become Tragedy Has Spoken.
Holy hell, is this a dense album, too, giving way to some of the common fads in the current death metal scene by bringing in instruments from outside that specific realm and throwing them full-force into this release. At some moments on this disc, it seems that the band went absolutely insane and just decided to create the largest cacophony of sound that they could with what they had available. In fact, Tragedy Has Spoken sometimes feels like a checklist of utter insanity added to the top of a solid death metal album.
Should we add chanting? Yeah, sure. Out-of-tune violin? Why not?. Sound effects like a really cheesy vomiting noise and a guillotine drop? Yep. What about a whole variety of different instruments and choral singing parts, including what sounds like throat-singing on one song? Absolutely! This is one release that is likely to blow past quite a few people before they can even really appreciate what has hit them.
Since I mentioned him in the first fifteen words of this review and he is likely one of the main reasons why people are drawn to this band, we might as well get a quick bit on Christian Älvestam’s vocal performance out of the way: He’s a monster on this disc, plain and simple. He still has his trademark roar; how he is able to summon up this vocal style so consistently still remains fascinating. The guy is distinctive as all hell — anyone who listens to this album and doesn’t know he is involved will figure it out real goddamn fast.
Miseration have been one of the heaviest groups with which Älvestam has been associated, so there’s little clean singing for him to do here. There’s one part in “Stepping Stone Agenda” where everything seems to be crashing around him into a crushing percussive march, with some light chanting involved, where he sounds like he’s just doubled over, but you won’t hear him do anything close to what he’s done with Solution .45, Scar Symmetry, that one techno song he recorded, or any of the countless other songs in which he has contributed clean singing for the chorus. He just sounds so goddamn violent here, it’s like a wholly different creature than what most people may be used to.
Speaking of, this whole album is just violent-sounding the whole time. Comparing it to the speed of something like The Mirroring Shadow is not to be taken lightly. Miseration don’t get all of their heaviness solely from the relentless pounding of the drums, as some brutal death metal bands do; they go so fast on just about every song that it becomes overwhelming. Now that they’ve stacked on all of those out-of-place elements mentioned previously, there is even more to absorb.
There’s actually some clearly identifiable groove in these songs, and even riffs that are more recognizable than just the standard whipsaw guitar work. Since everything comes through clearly now as well, Tragedy Has Spoken is also an extremely loud album. So much chaos and cacophony erupts from the music that even when you encounter a light break on this disc, it feels like a reprieve. Miseration may not really be advancing the genre, but it isn’t too much of a stretch to say that on Tragedy Has Spoken they are at least trying to push it to its breaking point. Death metal fans will find familiarity in the music, but only with effort, because those elements are buried underneath so much noise and chaos, stemming from both the production and the strangeness added by the band themselves. It’s one of the first albums I’ve encountered in a while where I have really felt challenged in listening to it, especially since it comes from a band with which I thought I was familiar and pretty much knew what I was getting into.
Drums on this release are provided by Oscar Nilsson, and that dude just destroys it here. He leaves absolutely nothing to chance, just blasting and rolling away. It’s a feat when you get somebody who can go this fast and this regularly. He definitely meets and exceeds the bar set by the drummers before him. His performance also provides a ton of cymbal work; just about everything seems to be crashing and splashing around. When I describe Miseration’s sound as a cacophony, the drumming is in large part responsible for it: the experience feels more akin to being caught in a battlefield, surrounded by all the explosions and gunfire, than it does just listening to a death metal disc.
Guitarists Jani Stefanović and Marcus Bertilsson let out some absolute monsters on this release. In between pulling from some stock death metal riffs and incorporating insanely catchy leads, they also try out some strange-as-hell techniques and melodies. The song “Ciniphes”, despite being one of the shorter tracks on the album, tends to stand out in my mind for that. It jumps between grooves, adds a catchy-as-hell lead, and with everything else mixed in, it sounds ever so slightly off-kilter. Then they actually have the balls to close the whole thing off with the sound of rain and a piano. Because really, after having hit the listener so hard already, why wouldn’t you?
Tragedy Has Spoken is a blistering forty-two minutes of death metal with a penchant for insanity. It’s something different, but just familiar enough for those of us who have been slavishly listening to the band for the past five/six years now. It’s a statement from a band who seemed to be in limbo that yes, they are still here and just as loud as ever. They’ve made a release that contains enough craziness to keep people listening even after each bombing run provided by the drums hits the listeners head on, and in that Miseration have preserved their tradition of absolutely commanding attention once you start listening.
It seems as though many people are always surprised to remember how good this band is whenever they come across a new release, and perhaps that will be true even more than usual once they give this one a listen. It’s crushingly heavy, yet could easily keep fans tuned in for hours afterward as they try to find everything buried within each song. If you’re a genre fanatic or simply someone who’s looking for really heavy music that’s different from the usual fare, give Tragedy Has Spoken a try.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tragedy Has Spoken was released earlier this month by Lifeforce Records and is available . . . everywhere. The very cool cover art is by the incompaable Pär Olofsson.
We posted about this album every time a new track debuted in the weeks running up to its official release, but we’re collecting all of those official streams here: