Album: Misery – EP
Exasperated, you lower the barrel of your father’s .38 snub-nosed revolver from the side of your head—red and indented where you’d held it firmly against your chilled, sweating skin. Closing your eyes and spinning the cylinder, pulling back the hammer and raising the gun once more to your temple, you exhale. A nervous amalgamation of anxiety, fright and anger, your hand starts to shake—so fiercely that even with the gun grasped firmly in your palm and the barrel digging into your temple, you’re not even sure that the bullet would hit your head—if there’s a bullet in the chamber at all. Biting your lip to the point of drawing blood, you squeeze.
Misery is the debut EP by Californian crushers Spite—and it is a perfect combination of manic, visceral vocals screaming depressive, downtrodden lyrics driven by punishing, thrashy and heavy instrumentation. It’s the sort of album where each pummeling breakdown in every violent, sporadic track might just be the one to kill you—forcing you to perch at the edge of your seat for the entire EP’s duration.
In a word, Spite’s instrumentation is frantic—a schizophrenic combination of haphazard aggression and uncontrollable energy—that mimics the nervous twitching of a hand holding a weapon intended for suicide. Misery is one part thrashy, nu-metallic anger to every three parts dissonant, brutalizing deathcore; a combination exemplified by percussionist Joshua Slater. Slater simply slays the drumming throughout Misery—whether it’s the bouncy kick-and-tom patterns in the EP’s title track, or the spine-cracking snare hits at the end of “Devil,” Slater is always providing something insane to warp the listener’s mind. His combination of quick, punctual metallic drumming—seen in the conclusion to “Red”—and deathcore technicality exemplified in “Burn” is nothing short of incredible—especially as it serves for a stellar canvas upon which guitarists Cody Fuentes and Christopher Tognetti can paint in the most incarnadine shades of gore. Together, Tognetti and Fuentes provide a display of insane, sinister fretwork as diverse and enthralling as Slater’s spine-splitting percussion. From the very first prolapse-inducing groove of “Burn,” the duo craft everything from gutwrenching grooves to bone-busting breakdowns with expert precision. Each groove is dripping with practically tangible dissonance, just as every riff cuts through flesh faster than a scalpel—especially the grindcore-esque moments found within “Burn” and “Psycopath.” These moments of languishing speed and fury are often flanked by churning, nu-metallic riffs that are just as catchy as they are mind-numbingly heavy. Portions like the punishing, driving riff that ends “Burn” allow bassist Stephen Mallory to shine alongside Tognetti and Fuentes in full-fledged fretted glory, adding a beefy, thick layer of sludgy fretwork to the mix, beautifully contrasting Slater’s gunshot-like snare and making each chug hit harder than a tidal wave of molten lead.
If Spite’s evil instrumentation is the anxious, frenzied energetic aspect of self-loathing, then Misery’s vocal aspect is the brooding, manic and insane aspect. Vocalist Darius Tehrani is a mad man—plain and simple. Every syllable shouted, spoken or screamed throughout Misery is nothing but pure, demented torment—and it has no problem piercing like a bullet, unobstructed into the listener’s head. Whether it’s the wicked, borderline incantation-style shouting on “Misery,” or the haunted shouts and screams of the acapella “Suffer,” Tehrani provides one of the most convincing and completely batshit vocal performances of any heavy artist in 2014. The poisonous, pure hatred that drives Tehrani’s bellows throughout “Burn” or his anguished, profane shouts of self-loathing on “Red” are as poetically surreal as they are brutalizing and violent. While Tehrani’s terrifying lyricism might not find itself winning Pulitzers for main-stream poetry, his unbridled anger and aggression make even the most daunting, dark and dismal corners of his mind easily accessible to listeners across the board.
Track after track, Misery is true to its name—in the best sense of the word. Each song brings the listener to the precipice of self-destruction as gnashing, groovy riffs trade blows with crushing, chug-laden breakdowns to tear the listener’s mind into shreds. Just as it seems too much to bear, the song ends—another empty click in Spite’s game of Russian Roulette, bringing the listener to the next song, to re-enter the band’s brutalizing cycle of sinister self-loathing. As the unique introduction that is “Suffer” gives way to “Burn,” which combusts into “Devil,” the listener’s suffering is renewed with each fresh song—creating an interesting dynamic unlike a great majority of Spite’s peers. By taking the most energetic and evil nu-aspects of acts like King 810 and combining it with treacherous heaps of self-hate and misanthropy one might expect from acts like Villains, Misery is an immersive experience that is a full-bodied EP; it is neither too brief, nor is it overdone. It is a comprehensive display of human suffering.
Time and time again you try to end life’s grip on your body—to shuffle off the mortal coil and set yourself free from constant torment. But every squeeze of the trigger leads to a soul-shrinking click—back to the drawing board. Similarly, just when the listener feels that Spite couldn’t get any more manic and murderous, the band outdo themselves—worsening the listener’s misery with each thudding chug.
For Fans Of: Traitors, Villains, King 810, REX, Beneath the Veil
By: Connor Welsh