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Misery's Omen > Hope Dies > Reviews
Misery's Omen - Hope Dies

Amazing and Strange - 80%

Shadoeking, December 1st, 2009

This band is fucked up. I mean this album is seriously unnerving. From the eerie cover art to the rumbling music, everything is odd and off-kilter. I guess that can be expected when one of the band's members is also in the epic mindfuck band Portal.

Misery's Omen plays a sort of progressive, blackened doom metal. The music is mostly made up of slow dirges that sound like the music to a funeral march into hell. It occasionally branches off into more melodic territory, while always soon returning to the deathlike somber sound from whence it came. There are some faster songs on the album, but the band always sounds best when they are slow. There are some soft acoustic interludes that are often beautiful, yet unsettling in their own way as the listener is never sure of when the band will revert to the harsher sound again. The vocals are delivered in a deep grunt and are often indecipherable.

The band uses frequent time signature changes to keep the listener feeling off balance. It works. The entire album is an exercise in strangeness. The length of the songs varies wildly. The 11+ minute opener is immediately followed by a 3+ minute song. This further leads to the strange feel of the album as a very long song may be followed by a very short song and vice versa.

This album is otherworldly and unique. I have their previous shorter album and enjoyed it so well I picked this one up. But, this one is infinitely stranger and more of an ordeal to listen through. The strangeness can get very unnerving and lead the listener into anticipation for the album to be finished. Not always a great quality in an album.

Stunning, beautiful, perfect. - 100%

Bezerko, May 12th, 2008

Misery’s Omen would have to be the most overlooked band in metal today. They released a few demos and splits (which were then brought together on the self titled EP) of extremely high quality. The feel of Bethlehem was there, that tortured atmosphere. Combined with a slightly doomy touch and a tad of progression (not enough to turn it into a pile of shit thankfully), Misery’s Omen offered something different, something unique. Amazingly, despite their brilliance (in my mind at least) they remained hidden from the metal community. And then, after years of waiting their first full-length has finally been released, but was it worth the wait?

YES! Now, if I was to give you one of those ultra-short reviews you see in magazines (due to time restrictions and not using an entire page on one review restrictions), it’s go something along the lines of “Melancholic, slightly torturous black metal along the vein of Bethlehem with a slight progressive touch.”

Okay, that’s not enough. This is the Metal Archives after all, a certain standard of review needs to be submitted to be accepted here and the above “review”, while certainly giving a reasonably good description, is terribly short. Alright, I’m starting to digress, but it IS apt! Misery’s Omen’s EP was very similar to Bethlehem, torturous atmosphere and all; in fact, it had one of the best screams EVER in a metal song. “Hope Dies” is both a bit more progressive yet a bit more simplistic. The atmosphere has changed from torturous to melancholic, the songs are longer, more soft instrumental parts are incorporated (think Opeth but in this case, they actually flow well), yet at the core “Hope Dies” is 100% Misery’s Omen. This is an utterly unique album to boot, which will only serve to increase any listener’s enjoyment of the album.

The way a piece of music flows is an important factor of any composition. It’s nice to see that the years spent constructing these songs, and indeed the whole album, have not been spent on writing half-decent pieces of music that, when listened to individually are quite good, but get pasted together haphazardly, ruining any enjoyment of the music (Opeth, I’m looking at you again!). If one thing can be taken from this album it is that the whole thing flows beautifully, even the strangely punkish “Fiendish Ghoul” just seems to fit, being somewhat of a reprieve from the darker first half, before allowing the melancholy to hit back with “A Cobbled Path” (note that “Fiendish Ghoul” is placed midway through the album).

From the opening of the album with the long and winding title track, to the stunning, almost Iron Maiden-esque solo in “Plains of Gold”, “Hope Dies” never lets down. The vocals are perfect for the album, hoarse whispers in the darker parts before developing into gruff grunts in “Fiendish Ghoul” to full blown screams during the more intense parts of the album that are enough to rival any vocalist dead or alive. The guitars are wonderful as well, riff upon melancholic riff is enough to entrance any listener, while weirdness is periodically added to make the whole thing just that bit more deranged, psychopathic and plain crazy. The bass is no exception. Not prone to simply following the guitars, the bass lines weave in and out of the music, at times strange and at times compellingly dark (much like Mayhem’s “Life Eternal”). And to top it all off, the drummer attempts no wank! The drumming ties this masterpiece together, holding all the varied elements together by a fine thread. Misery’s Omen have seemingly done the impossible here, made black metal progressive and at times mellow without coming off as pretentious or “weak”.

Did I mention the production? It seems that I didn’t after skimming through those paragraphs! The production is simply perfect on “Hope Dies”. The guitars sound perfect for black metal, think “Transilvanian Hunger” but cleaned up (not distortion wise, simply in the production department) and made a bit meatier. The bass is exposed at exactly the right times and the drums have the perfect black metal drum sound. They sound authentic with no triggers and strong yet subtle. Finally the vocals are mixed damn well; in line with much of black metal they are quite low yet very audible. The reverb on them works perfectly as well, creating that “from the depths” sound that is so essential to good black metal. The mix and sound of “Hope Dies” couldn’t be better, so credit to the producers and engineers on the sound job.

“Hope Dies” is just one of those albums. Not only can I say that this is 2008’s best album already, I can say that this is the best album in many, many years. Sometimes an album comes along and just shocks you in its perfection. “Hope Dies” is not just a “good” album or an album that is “great for it’s time”. No, “Hope Dies” is a true underground classic, a true metal classic. This is a triumph for all that metal stands for. Unique, daring, yet well based and damn right beautiful. The solo in “Plains of Gold” is the best thing ever to grace my ears and second place is the rest of this album. “Hope Dies” is simply the best, it’s perfect in everyway. THIS, my fellow metallers, is perfection.