Canadian metalcore heroes Misery Signals last released an album in 2013, the very excellent Absent Light, and then swiftly undermined the record somewhat by reuniting their original line-up, with long-departed frontman Jesse Zaraska, to tour celebrating the 10th anniversary of their debut, Of Malice And The Magnum Heart. That might have been an exciting move to placate old-school fans in the short term, but, for the longevity and relevancy of the band, all rests on the new material they can come up with, meaning there is a fair amount of pressure on Ultraviolet – Jesse’s first album since that debut – to come up with the goods.
With that level of anticipation, you can’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed by Ultraviolet being nothing more than a decent metalcore album. Opener The Tempest rumbles along on a propulsive hardcore riff and some odd rhythmic time signatures that are enjoyable enough, but never really make a big enough statement of intent. In fact, with the exception of the Poison The Well-goes-tech blur of Sunlifter, the entire first half of the album could be filed under ‘workmanlike’ and nothing more. It really isn’t until the fifth track, Old Ghosts, that Ultraviolet really steps up a notch. Full of genuine emotional pull, a massive vocal hook and some really surprising twists, it’s a fantastic song that seems to invigorate everything.
From then on, the short but beautifully Deftones-inspired doom of Redemption Key and album closer Some Dreams – a song with an old-school hardcore vibe of pure Trustkill Records vintage – snatches victory from the jaws of, if not defeat, then something approaching apathy. With the context removed completely from Ultraviolet then you could argue that this is a very good record, but with that context leering over it, Misery Signals fall slightly short of the standards you’d have hoped for.
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