Published Aug 05, 2020In a genre where bands have come and gone, who found mainstream success when the metalcore scene was at its peak and then faded into obscurity, Misery Signals are a band that have managed to weather that storm and remain powerful and inspired – and their long-anticipated fourth album, Ultraviolet, is resounding proof of that.
As the first album with the band's original lineup since their 2004 debut, Of Malice and the Magnum Heart, Ultraviolet displays all of the chemistry and passion that had people pay attention in the early 2000s when the scene was flooded by similar-sounding bands, but bands less distinctive and with not as much depth.
It is this complex vehemence that is immediately evident on the aptly titled album opener, "The Tempest," setting the tone for the album which tranquilly draws the listener in before frontman Jesse Zaraska breaks the serenity with his impassioned, brutal vocals. And like a violent storm, there is catharsis in the violent gales and rain, an uplifting song that begins with the lyrics, "We will be lifted again / Let this bring light / Nurture those starry eyes, old friend, for this is not your time / Mend those broken wings and reset, we will make this right." Ultraviolet is a fitting title, as UV light has two sides — a wavelength that is both beneficial and harmful to life. This dual personality is present throughout the album with moments that are, at times, melodic and serene, or heart-wrenching and intense. A good example of this is "The River King," which initially beckons the listener in with calming, haunting vocals before the inevitable onslaught of Zaraska's intense screams.
Texturally, the album is captivating, particularly on "Through Vales of Blue Fire," in which pulsating guitars paint a haunting picture of industrial furnaces bellowing sweltering flames of blue fire. The hopeful "Redemption Key" is another memorable example that ebbs and flows with the raw emotions of the song's pensive lyrics.
Many critics dismiss metalcore as a creatively limited genre that is stuck to a proven, particular formula, brooding in the shadows of its more credible and accepted parents, metal and hardcore. But Ultraviolet confidently brings Misery Signals out of the umbra of the genre's forefathers, casting a bright, fiery light on a band who will hopefully continue to raise the bar and challenge expectations. (Independent)