Miseration's new album "Tragedy Has Spoken" makes me feel like the old cop in a Frankie Avalon movie who pulls over the young feller in his new red convertible GTO and gives him a stern but fatherly warning: "Whoa, where's the fire? Slow down, son, you'll get yourself hurt, and then you can't go to the beach party with your combustion engines and your rock music and your make-out parties." I think we may have gotten off on a tangent there, but you get the idea. Miseration comes out of the gate screaming like their hair is on fire with "Stepping Stone Agenda," a break-neck noise-fest that leave you feeling like you were standing in a wind tunnel.
Over the course of the entire album though, this mindless acceleration becomes numbing, and that's where the old, safety-minded police officer comes into play. "Tragedy Has Spoken" thunders ahead like an adolescent who hasn't accommodated for his new, longer stride. It crashes ahead without pacing or heed, banking on unbridled enthusiasm to carry the day.
This is extreme metal with no reservations and a taste for speed, which is both good and bad. "Ghost Barrier" is the album's third track, but is the first track on the album that actually sounds like a real thing. There are nice snare accents paired with a head-nodding rhythm that sets a fine pace for the four and a half minute journey. Unfortunately, there are only a small handful of moments like this to be had overall.
Immediately following, "Ciniphes" has an unexpected bridge that stands in stark contrast to the rest of the album, with an open guitar lead that builds continuously into a crescendo. The song slowly slides back into the din of pounding and smashing, which leaves the potential of the bridge unbartered on the table.
The other piece worth highlighting is "On Wings of Brimstone," which is the only other selection of the album with a recognizable pacing, again a product of the well-portioned drum work, which pulls back on the throttle and picks its spots. To back all that up, the song features a somewhat melodic chorus, or at the closest facsimile that "Tragedy Has Spoken" will offer.
Aside from that, each of the album's other eight cuts sounds like roughly the same, which is to say that they sound like a stampeding crash of rhinos let loose in a Swarovski crystal shop. The band speaks at length about their technical acuity, and there is some to be had. The guitars find a few moments to rise from the cacophony to make their presence known, but not so many that it truly influences the album's idiom. There's a lot of talk about the band utilizing 8-string guitars, organs and even a Persian hammered dulcimer Santur. The problem is, the natural noisiness of the mix and the fury of the instruments means these things are awfully difficult to distinguish amidst what's going on, akin to a whisper on a scream.
Where Miseration successfully highlights these special guest stars is in the ambient sections of the songs, which usually either lead in or play out the tracks, and are always either directly following or slamming into another ceaseless pounding. It seems as though the band wants to highlight the difference between the calming nature of these quiet moments and the coiled spring of their extreme metal fury, but it begs the question; was this really a difference that needed to be illuminated? There's nothing especially revelatory about the relationship of these pieces, so there's not much to be gained from a scholastic standpoint.
Miseration is a band who has talent, but has more room to grow before they turn that talent into an album that really blows the roof off. "Tragedy Has Spoken" could be a capable building block to that eventual plateau, as there are some technical areas of proficiency buried beneath the din. Still, it would take either a dedicated fan of extreme metal or a listener of considerable patience to glean those elements from this album.