It’s not a stretch to say Of Malice And The Magnum Heart, the 2004 debut full-length from metalcore band Misery Signals, is one of a handful of records that might be considered the most influential in the genre. The Devin Townsend-produced album manages to maintain a strong degree of relevance over a decade later, both through their recent documentary Yesterday Was Everything, as well as the sheer influence the album (and Misery Signals overall) both have on current bands in the scene.
From the first note of “A Victim, A Target”, Misery Signals establishes themselves as a multifaceted and talented band of brothers. Fronted by one of metalcore’s most passionate and unique frontmen in Jesse Zaraska, tracks like “The Stinging Rain” and the nearly 6 minute “Five Years” bleed with an urgency not often seen in bands of the genre. The album’s production has a clear, yet raw and slightly unpolished feeling that truly adds depth and color to what Misery Signals is going for here.
Special attention has to be paid to “The Stinging Rain”, in particular. You might not think a 5 minute long metalcore song would keep your attention for half of that, but then you’d also be wrong. The track, which segues into the almost post-rock instrumental piece “Worlds And Dreams”, does so seamlessly – after, of course, bludgeoning the listener over the head with frantic drumwork and crunchy breakdowns that bands are still trying to emulate today.
The album’s emotional centerpiece is “The Summer Ended In June”. An emotionally devastating track that is like few in the genre, it simply must be heard – it’s a commemoration of lost friends, at its core.
Bands like Counterparts likely would be very different without Misery Signals, to be sure. While they certainly weren’t the first metalcore band or anything like that, Of Malice And The Magnum Heart is a record that plenty of bands can learn from today. A quality album that still sounds fresh today, the combination of bright melodies with the chugging breakdowns makes for an important listen. Make no mistake, Of Malice And The Magnum Heart is a modern-day classic.