Published May 26, 2014On their fifth full-length, death metal destruction force Misery Index had time to let their brutal batch of new songs settle. The Tuesday (May 27) release of The Killing Gods on Season of Mist marks the first instance when the band weren't rushed to finish an album, bassist/vocalist Jason Netherton tells Exclaim!
"For the first time, we weren't writing under any duress or pressure. We stopped touring in 2012 and the writing process was a lot more relaxed, a lot more part-time," says Netherton. "Because of that we went in with what we felt like were the best songs we could have written. So there was a lot less pressure and more flexibility to turn in something that we were totally satisfied with."
The result is perhaps the band's best sounding album, a full and decidedly heavy effort that should top a lot of death metal lists in 2014. The record has special meaning for Netherton, who took the time to explore his feelings on religion on the album's title track, but in a much more mature way than most metal bands tackle the subject.
"The title track is an exploration of the reasons why some people have such a passionate belief in the afterlife that they almost put it before life itself," he says. "It's not meant to criticize any one particular religion, but maybe religion in general that fetishizes the afterlife and death. It's about the aspects of religion that don't celebrate the here and now enough."
The Killing Gods features a couple of bonus treats. One is a guest appearance by Dying Fetus leader John Gallagher (Netherton used to play in the band prior to forming Misery Index), and the other is a two-song Ministry medley entitled "Thieves of the New World Order," recorded as a bonus track for a special edition.
"Season of Mist likes having those bonus things for the deluxe editions," says Netherton. "[Guitarist/vocalist] Mark [Kloeppel] always liked those songs, so he did a death metal rendition of them. It was the last thing we did for the album. He had his own take on it and it sounds like a Misery Index song."
Although they started out with roots in the crust and hardcore scene, the band are a metal band through and through now, something that is hammered home on The Killing Gods.
"When I started this band, I was definitely more into grind and a lot of crust and hardcore punk, so I just wanted to work with that and death metal," says Netherton. "I think it's fair to say in the last five years we've come back around to be a full death metal band. I lost a lot of interest for exploring those other things for the band, so where we are now is a death metal band."
They also have to share their drummer with another prominent band in the metal scene. Precision pounder Adam Jarvis has been playing with grindcore terrorizers Pig Destroyer since 2011, but it hasn't really affected Misery Index, says Netherton, since both bands are part time.
"Pig Destroyer have always been a part-time band and it coincided with some changes in Misery Index that happened a couple of years ago where we went part time," he says. "And we all moved away from Maryland except for Adam, which is funny because he's not from Maryland. So we wrote the album separately, pretty much over the internet, and it kind of works out with Adam's schedule."
Netherton, who recently moved to Ontario from the band's hometown of Baltimore to teach at the University of Western Ontario, is also readying the launch of a book he wrote called Extremity Retained: Notes from the Death Metal Underground, which was released by Canadian record label/publisher Handshake Inc.
"I started the book in 2010 as a part-time thing during our touring," says Netherton. "I started recording conversations with my peer musicians who I would go on tour with and meet backstage. I catalogued all of these interviews over the years and I thought it would be cool to create this oral history text for the scene and break all of the interviews down into certain sections and categories and give it some structure. It worked out pretty good and it coincided nicely with the release of the new album."
For now, Misery Index have several overseas dates lined up, and you can see the schedule here. You can also stream all of The Killing Gods below.