The Monsters of Millennial Metal Mosh On
Mister Misery Album Review
by Boris Lee
Memoirs of a Mangled Metal Monster Part One: Meet Mister Misery
Queens New York, Nineteen-eighty-eight…
“The Beatles were music! Elvis is the KING! Jefferson Airplane, Arthur Brown, they were music! The shit you listen to, Ozzy Osbourne, that’s just Satanic Noise,” said my stepfather, as Crazy Nights by KISS played in my cassette deck.
Once upon a time, I thought my stepfather was just an old man who could not deal with something cooler coming along in life. His music was boring to me. It lacked intensity and did not connect with my generation…
North Carolina, Present Day…
My back hurts. Though I go to the gym six days a week and find myself in better physical condition now than arguably ever before in my life, my back hurts. My shoulders are stiff and my left arm goes numb (has for years). My eyesight plays tricks on me. I tested at 20/25, but my brain registers oddities and focusing issues from my optical orbs. My neck no longer tolerates head-banging, and my brain rattles around like a drunken mariachi shaking a broken maraca when I attempt to go beyond a simple tempo paced head tap. My jaw and sciatic nerve have nothing to do with each other, but know each other well, as they cringe in uniformed fear of ‘The Pit.’ I found myself turning down the volume of my music tonight to see what I am typing here better. Yep, you read that correct. Turned down the music to SEE better. I’m aging… and the blood of demonic virgins is short in supply, so my life source will not replenish soon. This all plays into my feelings on modern metal music, or as I like to call it, ‘Millennial Metal.’
When I listen to modern metal music, my stepfather’s voice echoes within my cranial cavity. I do not connect with today’s metal music. There are a few exceptions like Ritual Moon, the now defunct Sirenhex, Novareign, Nytrate, but overall, I am not heading out to get new music in my collection since I just don’t dig it like I did when I was a kid. I view the generation of today not having the angst my generation did in their music. I don’t feel the music like I did as a kid.
The last time an influx of new metal music hit the market that made me feel like the creativity still captured a cacophony of coolness was the late nineties, and one band then stood out among all the rest. That band was, Disturbed.
As Black Sabbath has been given credit for creating metal music as we know it today (or more so when I was a kid), I would say we can consider Disturbed the ‘Maestros of Millennial Metal.’ Their influence goes deep in what is out there today.
Since I do not connect with today’s ‘Millennial Metal’, writing about it from an enjoyment perspective was not an easy task. For the past month, I have listened to the debut release from Mister Misery, Unalive. The music on the album was not filling my cup of entertainment tea. It sounds like all other Millennial Metal to me. It follows the same formula. It’s ‘Sparkling Goth Anime Angst’ in tone to me. So, for my entertainment value, I was not into writing about this album at all.
Then I heard my stepfather’s voice again, and I realized he was right. The music of my generation sounded like nonsensical noise. The music of my generation sounded the same no matter who was playing in the tape deck or spinning on the turntable. There was an over saturation of one-hit wonders and music written for commercial success, not created to connect with the listener on a more meaningful level. All the music was the same… to HIM.
My generation of music was not made for HIS generation. Me and my Metalhead brethren were the target audience for Ozzy’s antics, Dio’s horn raising, King Diamond’s screams, KISS’S anthems and Slayer’s pit pulverizers! With that thought traveling through my mind, I came to terms with how I am an old Metalhead! Today’s ‘Millennial Metal’ is not for me. It is for my kids! It is for the millennials that drive my generation NUTS!!!! They are the target audience. Not me, or my generation.
Thus, as a journalist, I found my way to approach this album review. By taking away the fact that my generation is not the target audience for the music on Mister Misery’s debut release, I could look at the music from a creative standpoint. From a creative view, Mister Misery’s debut Unalive is alive and kicking ass with what today’s commercial metal music generation is in touch with.
Founded in Stockholm in February twenty-eighteen by Harley Vendetta (vocals/guitars) and Alex Nine (guitar), Mister Misery wasted no time putting together a creative game plan to gore their way to success, Rhino style! The band caught the eye of legendary metal music producer Markus Staiger, who signed Mister Misery to a deal with Arising Empire in twenty-nineteen.
Unalive is an ‘All Killer No Filler,’ album balanced on energetic guitar riffs and a gothic vocal ballet. Though lyrically the music did not connect with me, instrumentally the music is masterful. I found the use of tube amplifiers a big deal coming from a Millennial Metal album, since it shows the musicians involved know what makes for great sound. The harmonized guitar riffs are a throwback to the music of my generation, and that was something I connected with. Alex Nine’s lead guitar riffs are an orchestrated “Shredtastic Scream.” He immediately caught my attention on the opening track to the album, “The Blood Waltz,” and never lost it throughout the rest of the album.
Remember what I said earlier about Disturbed? Mister Misery shows heavy influence from the band, with guitar riffs reminiscent of Dan Donegan and vocal styling in homage to David Draiman, particularly on the track, Tell Me How.
My Ghost is the next highlight on the album with a dark carnival feel homage conducted by ringmaster Marylin Manson. The ripping rhythm guitar work and insane shred/tapping lead guitars are cohesive with brutal drums and ‘Beastial’ bass. Good tune. This song caught my attention right away, even when I was not sure I could write a good review about the album.
Slayer…. I don’t trust people who don’t like Slayer. (Hey, if you can decide on trusting somebody based on a dogs intuition, I can do the same on their feelings about… SLAYER!!!!) Legion, opens with a Slayer inspired riff ramming pit punch to the face. The song then falls into a more modern millennial metal mosh ministry. Lyrically, the chorus to the song struck me. There is something there that reminded me of music from my youth. I’m not connecting with it, however, the feeling the music conveys will connect with the intended audience, today’s youth.
Alive, the next song on my list of mentions, ironically reminds me of a band that broke the struggling musician barrier with a famous live album of the same title. Of course that band is KISS. How Mister Misery’s Alive has anything to do with KISS, is simple to define from a creative view. The song is an anthem. KISS was famous for anthem themed music that reached kids in my generation, especially during their eighties run. Mister Misery executed an anthem that should resonate with today’s youth as KISS’ anthems did with mine.
Stronger, swoops into the mosh with a harmonized power metal riff and lead fills giving this youthful anthem (yep, another anthem at heart) something to cheer about.
The remainder of the Mister Misery’s debut falls into place with what a Millennial Metal masterpiece should be. Musically, Mister Misery is the real thing and could go beyond the market they are targeting creatively.
Looking back on my generation and metal music in the eighties, there were many bands that had something but disappeared into the pits after one good mosh. What “Killed” metal music then commercially was everyone doing the same thing, sounding the same way, following the same formula. What “Killed” metal music then is exactly what I think is wrong with it in today’s Millennial Metal. But that’s a conversation for another time.
With Mister Misery, I feel the band is talented enough to break out of the Millennial Metal Mold if they choose to do so. If they choose to remain with that label, they will reach success. I have zero doubt in that. Whatever the case, I look forward to seeing what Mister Misery does in the future. Maybe not from an entertainment perspective, but certainly from a creative one.
As a journalist, it is not about writing about what you like, but finding something to like in what you are writing about. Mister Misery’s debut release, Unalive, placed me in a position to open my mind to what today’s generation considers good music. Listening to this album and reviewing it gave me a chance to connect with where I lost touch with modern metal music. Rather than look at things like my stepfather did when he talked to me about my generation’s music, I found a different train of thought to travel regarding what is out there for metal music today. I no longer feel like an aging headbanger with a closed mind and a deaf ear. I feel like the kids today have something to connect with in THEIR generation’s music. It may not connect with me, but it connects where it counts with them. I think Markus Staiger would agree in how talented Mister Misery are.
I give Mister Misery’s debut release Unalive, 4.5 out of 5 raised horns.
To check out more on Mister Misery, follow the links below, including their interview with the Metal Babe herself, Alison Cohen.