Misery Index - _Retaliate_
(Nuclear Blast, 2003)
by: Jackie Smit (10 out of 10)
However you care to look at it, 2003 has been a dream year for death metal. Not only have we, the rabid fans, been treated to two near-classics in the form of Vital Remains' ferocious _Dechristianize_ and Septic Flesh's esoteric overture _Sumerian Daemons_, but with new releases by Morbid Angel, Zyklon, Deicide and Six Feet Under waiting in the wings, it would appear that the party has just begun. What irony then that amidst all this name-checking and nostalgia-induced expectation, the (possibly) most outstanding death metal record of 2003 would turn out to be the one that has been treated with relatively minimal pre-release hoopla by both the media and industry alike. Of course, if you haven't guessed it by now, the band in question is Misery Index and the album, nay masterpiece, their Nuclear Blast debut _Retaliate_.

For those out of the loop, Misery Index is the conception of one Jason Netherton, better known until 2001 as the bassist and one half of the Dying Fetus creative wrecking ball. Starting off as a studio project, their self-released _Overthrow_ effort was nothing short of spectacular: a rapturously received, finely calculated death/thrash blast that left many a satisfied, not to mention deafened, ear in its wake. However, as great as it was, it still hinted all too often at Netherton's alma mater -- understandable considering the contributions of fellow ex-Fetus friends Mike Harrison and Kevin Talley.

_Retaliate_ sees Netherton join forces with ex-Severed Head drummer Matt Bayles and former Dying Fetus, M.O.D. and Fear of God guitarist Sparky Voyles, and the result is a giant leap forward -- not only in terms of songwriting, but also in overall impact and brutality. Opting to further eschew the shadow of his past efforts, the new Misery Index material draws from a wide base of grind, hardcore, death metal and a fair amount of punk. Prevalent as well is a keener sense of melody and dynamics than could reasonably have been expected: the intricate structures are sped up or slowed down only when their effects are certain to be embellished, and never, as is the case with several current extreme acts, will a blast beat of groove pattern be utilised extraneously.

That said though, the level of aggression on _Retaliate_ is nothing if not intimidating. When Netherton snarls his way through the intelligent and well thought out diatribes of "Demand the Impossible" and "Angst Isst Die Seele", you just know that he means every vitriol-drenched word. The relatively young Bayles in the meantime excels in his role as the band's sticksman, delivering a performance that is easily worthy of a Pete Sandoval or a Gene Hoglan. Quite frankly, there is not a single moment of weakness to be found on this record. It is simply a breathtaking masterclass in extreme music.

While I would be the first one to frown at the many tiresome and unfounded comparisons to the mighty _Reign in Blood_ that are haphazardly thrown around these days, _Retaliate_ provides a thirty minute explosion of awe-inspiring viciousness that at the very least equals the impact of the much revered Slayer classic. This is truly a landmark album that will conceivably be discussed, studied and inevitably imitated for years to come. The gauntlet, my friends, has well and truly been thrown down.

[Pedro Azevedo: "In _Retaliate_, Misery Index have created one of the most impressive death metal records of recent years. Succinct and coated with a potent production, this half-hour outburst of aggression rarely lets down. At its best, during outstanding tracks such as "Retaliate", "Angst Isst Die Seele" and "Demand the Impossible", _Retaliate_'s faster, vaguely melodic riffs flow amazingly well. While those riffs score higher with me than the slightly slower, chunky ones, the album remains highly enjoyable and technically impressive throughout. _Retaliate_ should be a feast of truly unusual proportions for virtually any death metal fan."]

Contact: http://www.misery-index.com

(article published 31/8/2003)

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