Genre: Grindcore/Death Metal | Label: Anarchos Records
Location: Baltimore, Maryland | Listen: Bandcamp
At the time of writing this review, Baltimore’s Misery Index have just released their seventh full length, which is an impressive feat. As such, there’s no better time to take a look back at their discography, and here we have their debut release, the “Overthrow” EP. It features two former members of Dying Fetus (and a third alumni would join them long term immediately after this EP) playing death metal with some punk and grindcore influences throughout. I’m particularly keen on early Misery Index, and still quite enjoy this EP all these years later.
Misery Index’s general sound at this era has some things in common with Dying Fetus’ earlier material, which makes sense as bassist/vocalist Jason Netherton was an original member, and drummer Kevin Talley was his bandmate there too. So not only is there some familiarity in the vocals, but some of the elements of groove are similar. Misery Index makes use of some NYDM-esque chunky power chord grooves, which are certainly easy to get into, but they balance them out with a variety of other riff styles and rhythmic approaches. They’ll often do full out blastbeat sections with tremolo picked lines that get into some melodic territory, but there’s a tension in these melodies that makes these riffs sound razor sharp. Blistering double kicks and fast beats in general dominate the parts of the songs that aren’t grooving, and giving them their own unique character, and one that’s downright explosive.
Lyrically, Misery Index is more firmly rooted in grindcore, much like fellow east coast death/grinders Brutal Truth. Topics like consumerism, class war, power and control are at the forefront here, and they’re very well done. I’ve alawys adored Jason Netherton’s lyrical abilities, as he has lots to say, but uses language in a thoughtful way. There’s no need to get a dictionary, as he makes his points painfully clear with relatable metaphors of struggle and hardship. His vocal delivery is bold, powerful, yet easy enough to understand, and he’s able to create hooks throughout the songs quite effectively.
One of the only things I can complain about when it comes to this EP (and early Misery Index in general) is how it’s a victim of early 2000’s triggered drum production. Namely, the kicks sound very obviously triggered, but that’s pretty much the standard for 2001. Everything is loud and clear, but the guitars at least have a little bit of grime on them that it brings it back from to sounding too clinical.
Along with the four original songs presented on this EP, there’s also a cover of Terrorizer’s “Dead Shall Rise.” Funny enough, I ended up checking out Terrorizer because of this cover, and as such I think it’s a great rendition. It’s a nice lean 15 minutes, perfect for a band’s very first release, and certainly something that takes me back to my teenage years when I was getting into more extreme music. The tracks on “Overthrow” have been re-released on a compilation CD with several other of their EPs/splits, which is also a great way to enjoy these early Misery Index tracks.