Album: Misery – EP
Mankind has a vast multitude of ways we deal with trauma. Some of us are adept at processing it—grappling with it head-on and coping with stress and tragedy both. Others may keep it bottled up until they’re comfortable with expressing their feelings and emotions. Finally, there are those who don’t simply keep it to themselves, but bury it in the darkest and most dismal corners of their subconscious—they Repress it, never wanting to experience it or anything akin to it again. For someone to repress something—to truly omit it from their active memory—that experience has to be a trauma more jarring and upsetting than 99% of any negative encounter in one’s history; and if the repressed memory should ever rise, the result could be catastrophic. Case in point: the debut EP from Maryland metal-turned-hardcore quintet, Repressed. Misery is raunchy, ruthless and reckless—emotion and energy in their most raw and unrefined forms—erupting into the listener’s head like Ol’ Faithful, a powerful stream of punishing metallic hardcore.
Instrumentally, Repressed know not the term “subtlety,” as from the very first riff of “Broken Home,” Misery is a manic barn-burner of a hardcore album that lacerates with razor-sharp riffs yet bludgeons with beatdown-tinted breakdowns with equal ease. Percussionist Daniel Marvel oscillates between ride-bell laden, relentlessly mosh-inducing patterns and dancy, quick patterns that could make a quadriplegic two-step. “Vice Pt. 2” is a dynamic example of Marvel’s magnificent drumming—as the introduction sees him working diligently with bassist Timmy McCoy, while the conclusion is a splashy, sinister breakdown that fades out into the album’s ending. Likewise, “Broken Home” starts off with a piercing ride bell that cuts with ease through the downtuned, groovy riffs from guitarists Joey Pacheco and Vincent Viviano. Somewhere between dissonant, downtuned aggression a la Varials and dirging, catchy riffs similar to Left Behind, Repressed’s two guitarists take turns swinging at the listener like drunken boxers. While parts of “Grudge” don’t flow as smoothly as the opening riffs in “Broken Home” or “Perfidious,” the duo are a force to be reckoned with—a non-stop ticket straight to beefy, bold brutality.
While Repressed’s instrumentation is a somewhat diverse (even if slightly monotonous) display of metal and hardcore mashed up tastefully, the band’s frontman, Andy Reynolds, has two modes: heavy and heavier. With his raw, grating mid-range roar sounding similar to a combination of Storm Strope (former frontman of The Last Ten Seconds of Life) and Randy Blythe (Lamb of God, if you live under a rock), Reynolds spends a majority of his time telling stories of substance abuse and social disorder from his past with a steady, intelligible roar. However, moments like the slamming conclusions to “Broken Home” and “Perfidious” see him dropping his voice several octaves and oppressing the listener with ferocious, guttural bellows. Here is where Reynolds’ sole showing of vocal variety comes from—and when it kicks in, the listener will be floored. While it feels as though Repressed save Reynolds’ savage bellows for moments where they truly steal the show, Misery could indeed do with more moments where Reynolds’ voice takes a nosedive into almost nuclear heaviness.
Repressed consider themselves to be “heavy,” nothing less and nothing more—and that is a truly perfect way of defining them. With moments of metallic, riff-driven intensity that parallel portions of punishing, slam-tinted brutality, Misery is a murderously heavy series of heavy-handed anthems that will definitely find their way into the collections of breakdown-loving, riff-addicted extreme music fanatics. While Misery could do with a little more variety vocally and musically—as every song seems to start the same (save “Vice Pt. 2”), and Reynolds’ raw yell stars to wear on the listener by the time the release draws to a close—it is still Repressed’s debut, and a damn good one at that. Misery sees Repressed’s penchant for trauma-inducing lethality leaking out—ensuring that their follow-up record will send the band into the annals of heavy-hardcore history.
For Fans Of: Varials, Kublai Khan, Left Behind, Knocked Loose, Relapse
By: Connor Welsh