It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven whole years since the last album, 2013’s Absent Light, from metalcore stalwarts Misery Signals. Not only is it their first release in quite some time, it’s also the first with the original lineup, reunited for the first time since their debut in 2004, the excellent Of Malice and the Magnum Heart. Since reforming that lineup for tenth anniversary shows in 2014, the band have quietly beavered away on new music together, but it wasn’t really until last year and earlier this year that rumours of a new album really began to gather pace.
Standing almost as a companion piece and in direct contrast to its predecessor, Ultraviolet deals lyrically with themes of healing, hope and perseverance through adversity and musically marks a return to the brighter melodies and textures that characterised their earlier work. Ultraviolet, then, stands both as a return to the past in some ways but also builds on the past near two decades as a band to push themselves forward to pastures new.
After a very brief ambient intro, lead single ‘The Tempest’ opens proceedings in style with vocalist Jesse Zaraska’s emotional roar atop chunky guitar work that, despite a well-trodden sound in modern metalcore, still sounds fresh and revitalised thanks to the band’s blend of melodicism and grittier textures. Followup ‘Sunlifter’, the first song written following the original lineup’s return, opens with a wistful, almost yearning lead before the trademark djent-flavoured riffs kick in and ‘River King’ is easily one of the finest tracks here, with its softer, minimalist beginning standing in contrast to the churning, monolithic midsection. ‘The Fall’ features almost gang vocals in its choruses that help to elevate it and closer ‘Some Dreams’ is a true powerhouse, ending on a meaty breakdown that takes no prisoners.
Misery Signals have always been a band to inspire conversations around time signatures or gear as opposed to the perhaps more usual trappings of the genre that they helped build and Ultraviolet is no exception to this; nine tracks of meticulously crafted metalcore that takes cues from prog, djent and shoegaze as well as nodding to their early material. Metalcore became known (and much parodied) for its breakdowns, but it’s here, amongst the titanic grooves and techy grooves, that Misery Signals prove just how effective they can be (‘River King’, ‘Some Dreams’). They’re very much a band whose albums ought to be consumed as bodies of work, rather than as collections of singles; what they may lack in huge viral hits they make up for in consistency and Ultraviolet doesn’t dip below ‘good’ for its entire runtime. It’s an easy recommendation, not just for fans of the band, but for fans of the genre they helped pioneer and, if this comeback album is anything to go by, should continue to lead for some time yet.
Ultraviolet is released August 7th via Basick Records. Pre-order the album here.