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Album Reviews : Misery Signals – Controller

By on June 30, 2008

It really is a shame that this band has such a generic hardcore vocalist, it really is, because if you listen past that, “Controller” has a lot more to offer than most other hardcore releases. The occasional post-rock influences spread throughout the album fit in really well and definitely gives their music a bit more depth than the millions of heavy-riff/breakdown/drum-beat/back-into-riff core bands around. However, this difference does not stand out as much as it should, because the generic vocals seem to bring it all down a notch, closer to that level of mediocrity. I’m not saying the vocals are bad (although his clean vocals aren’t really “good”), but they aren’t up to par with the music.

Reading up on the band, I’d seen quite a few sites and press releases mention the different styles and influences that the band dabble in, but I largely dismissed this as just hype and marketing to make them seem special. Well I am pleasantly surprised. The post-rock influence does come through a fair bit, creating some great atmospheres and epic-sounding melodies in parts (which are definitely the better parts of the album). There’s your usual heavy, sudden riffs and pummelling drum beats, as expected, which I would like to hear less of in future material. Whether they try a different direction, or even just experiment a little more in these parts; any deviation from standard hardcore material would be a welcome attempt.

The production is great, as expecting with somebody like Devin Townsend at the helm. The album doesn’t have the over-the-top production of Townsends own bands, instead focusing on making the heavier bits heavier, and giving the quieter bits more breathing room. There are actually some moments (the beginning of Reset, parts of Coma etc) that, surprisingly, reminded me of Townsend with similar epic, spacey, somewhat artificial sounding guitar melodies.

I would love to hear this album in instrumental form as I think it would have a very different atmosphere and the great writing would shine even more. I haven’t heard any of Misery Signals’ older material, which had a different vocalist, but deep inside I actually hope it was another standard hardcore vocalist, because I would hate to find out that this band have actually gone more vocally generic.

Give the band a shot, ignore the hardcore influences (which can be hard in parts) and focus on the other areas of the album. 6.6/10

Band: Misery Signals
Album: Controller
Year: 2008
Genre: Hardcore/Progressive
Label: Ferret Records
Origin: USA

Track Listing:
1. Nothing
2. Weight of the World
3. Labyrinthian
4. Parallels
5. Coma
6. A Certain Death
7. Set In Motion <- Reviewers Choice
8. Ebb and Flow
9. Reset
10. Homecoming


Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.