Absolute Light - Mizery
By Barnaby Britten
San Diego hardcore crew Mizery are somewhat of a supergroup, with past and present members of bands like God’s Hate, Xibalba and Twitching Tongues amongst others. Perhaps then, it should come as no surprise that their debut LP Absolute Light absolutely rips.
And make no mistake: this album rules, hard. Building on the not-quite-crossover sound of their first EP, Absolute Light takes that blueprint and simply steps it up to another level. This album is not necessarily remarkably innovative, but it fuses together a variety of influences from scattered corners of the musical landscape and packages them into something recognisably hardcore. The product is an utterly coherent yet unique and, most importantly, stupidly enjoyable record.
Mizery utilise an old school production style that complements their still altogether modern hardcore approach perfectly and lets each instrument shine in its own right. The reverby guitar tones sometimes give off a slightly grungey vibe, such as in the choruses of “One Kiss” and “Mizery”. On the latter, vocalist Jose Gonzalez even employs an almost (emphasis on almost, don’t worry) hip-hop style of delivery, which again works seamlessly within the overall thrashy hardcore arc of the track. Delivered in a pained but still intelligible rasp, his lyrics are also very well executed, ranging from the directly relatable to the more spiritual, as illustrated by the choruses of “Mizery” and “Power of Peace” respectively.
Mizery also somehow manages to include both a moshy intro track (titled “Paramatman”) and an instrumental interlude (“The Bvtcher") without coming across as juvenile, which is testament to their songwriting ability. The latter is a genuinely interesting slice of melodic relief that has you wholly unprepared for when all hell breaks loose straight off the bat on follow-up “Execution Style”, a track which showcases the band’s ability to fuse the melody and heaviness that the aforementioned tracks display in isolation. It shows off all facets of Mizery’s style: speed and dissonance as well as psyched out slowness and melody. Each contrast only serving to make the counterpart more enjoyable. You know that this is an album written with maturity and consideration.
This mixed bag of musical tools and influences, whether it be a slowed down melodic passage, a blistering 80s inspired solo, a catchy chorus or a crushing breakdown, makes for a truly enthralling listening experience without sacrificing any of the immediacy and moshability that you would expect from this genre of music. This is quite simply one of the best hardcore releases of 2016.