Metal has spread around the globe like a plague. There are so many releases on so many local indy labels that even completists like Chronicles of Chaos can't review them all. Sprouting out of Canberra, Australia, Misery's Omen prove that there are some gems floating amongst the turds in the rising tide of Metal. It's no surprise that this release is overlooked. Worship Him Records hails from Norway, and the distribution path for this album is tortured at best.
The album starts with some droning, melodic black metal. Bass rides high in the mix, adding a discordant voice that I mistook for singing at first. The vocalist scratches alongside the drone in a manner consistent with the genre. Sounds good to me.
Then, after a pause, we move into a doomy passage that evokes My Dying Bride, but with breathy Attila Csihar vocals. I approve.
Next, some triumphant melodies enter, giving a glimpse of the eclectic direction of the rest of the album. At times, I'm reminded of the genre hopping glory of early Dissection. Thankfully, the vocals never break into the realm of cleanliness. But what is this? Melodic acoustic passages that sound like Mikael Åkerfeldt at his best? Come on, this is great stuff. And that was only the first track.
Sometimes the distance from melody increases with funky rhythms and discordant riffs that would sound at home on the latest Mayhem album. At other times, the tunes sound jazzed up enough to compete with Athiest. The production gives satisfying space to all the instruments - a rarity in these times.
Once in a while, it feels like the guitar melodies might take a misstep. Since melodies drive this album as much as chromatic blackness, the occasional oddness doesn't mar the overall package as it would on, say, a Dark Tranquillity album.
Hope Dies engages throughout, and the diversity of influences emulsifies convincingly. At one point, a galloping riff with growling vocals and hand clapping lets the listener know that this all shouldn't be taken too seriously. The pseudonyms of the band members should also tip you off on that account.
I should mention that the drummer does a good job of handling the chaos, without offending. His diversity is best showcased in the acoustic passages. And the bass player? Where did they find this guy? Fantastic.
I don't hesitate to rank this album on par the latest releases of Opeth and Enslaved in vision and execution. How are Misery's Omen not signed to a real record label?