posted on 2/2006 By:
Ahhhhhhh. Talk about refreshing. There is such an abundance of convention-jocking redundancy in metal that virtually any band that strays from the norm is an extremely valuable commodity. When that band produces music of this extremely high quality, it’s a fuckin’ godsend. I’ll admit that Misery Inc. have pretty much completely blindsided me here; I had never even heard the name before the moderate groundswell of hype around Random End reached my ears. Incidentally, these young Finns are entirely deserving of any and all media attention they garner, and with their second album they’ve delivered a meaty slab of heavy, melodic, creative, and INSANELY catchy metal. Albums this finely-honed and tastefully executed are a massive accomplishment; that one has come to us from such a young band speaks of monolithic potential on later albums. I will be so bold as to suggest, even this early in the year, that Random End is the melodic metal album to buy in 2006.
There is a superficial similarity between Misery Inc.’s sound and that of the ever-popular Killswitch Engage school of metalcore. This very suggestion is likely to send many a ‘true’ metal fan screaming from the room, but the similarity will be dispelled upon the listener’s first exposure to Random End. There is simply too much musical substance and visceral aggression written into these songs to remind much of the aforementioned style’s commercialism. Now, make no mistake, this shit is eminently listenable, but what we have going on here is a pair of excellent clean singers weaving some ridiculously infectious melodies over a rock-solid death metal framework. The instrumentation, in fact, might be this album’s most impressive dimension; unlike most clean-voxed metal, it’s given equal weight in the mix as the vocals, which is fortunate considering Janne Tolonen and Teemu Ylämäk’s knack for cranking out adrenaline-spiking riffs. The ever-awesome Edge of Sanity seems to be the primary influence here, and fittingly so. Fans of the band remember how well Dan Swäno’s clean voice worked with their crushing melodeath riffage, and the effect here is similar. Aki Heikinheimo and Joonas Kauppinen comprise a very active and nimble rhythm section, with Kauppinen turning in a particularly tasteful display behind the skins. The percussive backbone laid down by these two is absolutely crucial to Misery Inc.’s sound; their militaristic pounding is in large part what gives them their bottom-end metallic grit.
But really the story here is the songwriting. Misery Inc. largely succeed via their ability to craft complex, detailed compositions without losing track of the huge choruses that anchor their sound. You’ll not find any straight verse/chorus/repeat tracks here; each song is fully tricked out with an arsenal of intros, bridges, prechoruses, solos, and the like, thus allowing the band to largely avoid the predictability trap that plagues many more accessible metal bands. And let us not neglect to mention those choruses: wow. I can’t remember the last time I’ve had so many vocal lines stuck in my head at once. Niko Mankinen and Juha Näveri, both new to the band, have got a goddamn gift for pulling off stratospheric vocal harmonies without sounding gratingly emotional or excessively sugared. Even more impressive is Näveri’s potent death growl, which crops up regularly in each song to provide some extra-savage guttural punch underneath Mankinen’s lighter fare.
Random End is such a guilt-free fun listen that I find it hard to really make many marks against it. It is not perfect by any means; the songwriting is slightly homogenous, and Teemu Ylämäk tends to wildly overplay his solos and leave no room for melody in his cascading walls of notes. But that’s small shit on an album with moments like the absurdly memorable chorus to lead single “Fallen Rage,” or the pure EOS death march that serves as the verse to “Cyanide,” or the thrashing mayhem of “No Excuse For Weakness,” or the buzzsawin’, cymbal-grabbin’ riff onslaught in “Source of Fatal Addiction.” Great songs, perfect production, excellent musicianship, and a distinctive modus operandi add up to a top-of-the-line metal album here. Pick this up and snag a neck brace while you’re at it; you’ll have headbanged yourself into a pricey medical bill before you know what hit you.
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