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Misery Loves Co. > Misery Loves Co. > Reviews
Misery Loves Co. - Misery Loves Co.

The misery of the 90s gets some more love. - 75%

hells_unicorn, November 20th, 2023
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, MNW Zone

Some look lovingly upon certain points in history, while others prefer to remember them with scorn, and wherein the 90s changeover from thrash metal to all the other stuff that would come in its stead was concerned this meant labeling the phenomenon as either a survival tactic or trend-hopping. In the interest of fairness, the truth usually rested somewhere in the middle as the hegemony of the established entertainment media rivaled that of Genghis Khan's stranglehold over continental Asia, and the barrier to entry for independent acts were so near insurmountable that conformity or calling it quits was often the only given choice. Case and point, the demise of Sweden's small yet nascent thrash metal scene that featured several promising acts making small waves towards the end of the 80s, with one of the more impressive ones in Uppsala-born quintet Midas Touch crushing it after the spirit of Hexenhaus and Forbidden on their 1989 debut Presage Of Disaster before being crushed by the 90s backlash to their adopted sound.

Though this premature death was a tragedy of noteworthy proportions for any remnant fans of the metal art, front man Patrik Wirén wasn't content to simply throw in the towel and decided to try his hand at the industrial end of the spectrum that had become popular thanks to the commercial breakthroughs of Ministry's ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ and White Zombie's La Sexorcisto: Devil Music Volume One. The resulting two-man studio project dubbed Misery Loves Co. and its eponymous debut entered a largely welcoming landscape circa 1994 as it basically split the difference between the two aforementioned albums, incorporating the electronic and sample clips periphery of the former via band mate Örjan Örnkloo technical expertise while going a bit heavier on the mid-paced thrashing riffage of the latter, with Patrik's vocal approach functioning as a near perfect composite of Rob Zombie and Al Jourgensen to boot. In essence, the musical results were tailored to appeal to popular sentiment of the day to the point of being utterly contrived, yet it resulted in a reasonably strong album.

To be blunt, Misery Loves Co. is as blatant of a tribute to the musical zeitgeist of its era that even those who didn't live through said time period would have no difficulty pointing out from where even the occasional deviations from its core style were drawn. Amid chunky industrialized riff machines like "Kiss Your Boots" that listens like a direct homage to "Just One Fix" or the thrash-happy twist on one of Nine Inch Nails' early entries "This Is No Dream", the places where the industrial nob gets dialed back significantly such as the ultra-morose and grunge-tinged "Happy?" sees Wirén and Örnkloo mixing in a chorus vocal segment and guitar tone that may as well have been lifted off Alice In Chains' Dirt. "Need Another One" also comes with some 90s Seattle trappings during the quieter, non-metallic segments before crashing in full Ministry mode, while the slow-crawling swamp of sound "2 Seconds" and the dank heaviness of "Swallow" come with doom trappings that could have been heard on Crowbar's seminal 1993 self-titled album were it not for the electronic drums.

Even for someone such as myself that holds few fond memories of this time period, this is one of those albums that manages to pack a respectable punch despite its highly typical and derivative nature. The quality of the ideas being employed and the conherent and effective songwriting approach that largely mirrors Fear Factory's methodical approach definitely gives it a needed edge and leaves little mystery as to why Extreme Noise Terror was obliged to appear on a split album with this outfit. The biased media campaign of the time period notwithstanding, metal didn't die with the changing landscapes that unfolded in the 90s, it simply changed with them and proceeded to take a fair amount of flack from the same media for doing so. While it may not carry the same appeal to old school thrash fans that preferred the Midas Touch sound, this is a solid entry from one of the minds that made that short-lived band what it was, and more than just another tag-along looking to ride the industrial wave.

Misery Loves the Industrial King(s) of Sweden - 84%

bayern, March 25th, 2017

The 90’s came beckoning with new seductive, attractive possibilities and since the audience readily embraced them (it still beats me why…), what was left for the old guard but to try and adapt to them. The adaptation campaign swept away Patrik Wiren as well, the frontman of the technical thrash purveyors Midas Touch who followed on the steps of another classic thrash act from their homeland, Rosicrucian, who became Slapdash and produced a full-length and an EP of passable modern groovy post-thrash. Another competition was provided by Lost Souls who went as far as releasing three whole full-lengths through the 90’s of heavy groovy post-thrash. Wiren wasn’t willing to retire so early, either, and decided to vent his anger with the foundation of Misery Loves Co.

By 1992 the band already had some material ready which even impressed the grind noisemongers Extreme Noise Terror who did a split with them. Things looked good and Wiren waited no longer, but teamed up with Orjan Ornkloo, a guitar/bass player and programmer, and was ready to go. From the very first seconds of the opening “My Mind Still Speaks” the listener knows that he/she will be in Industrialland for the next 50-min as the guys push forward with heavy meaty guitars with a lot of abrasion Wiren mixing it up in the vocal department with harsh deathy shouts and cool alternative clean vocals. “Kiss Your Boots” is a heavy squasher with a belligerent march-like rhythm-section, and “Need Another One” is a more alternative stomping semi-ballad with Wiren exploring his more lyrical singing side. “Sonic Attack” begins in the same way as the previous cut in a more subdued balladic manner with Wiren semi-reciting throughout, soaring above the sharp abrasive riffs.

“This is no Dream” thrashes harder with a memorable main motif brutalizing, also industrializing the environment to nearly unbearable proportions, but “Happy” is a quiet balladic “idyll” Wiren both reciting and singing on the excellent catchy chorus, the dirgy character of the guitars predating Ministry’s “Filth Pig”. By all means an effective approach that gets "swallowed" by the more dynamic harshness of “I Swallow” which pounds its way through a few more melodic dashes which disappear into the following “Private Hell”, a sure winner thanks to the consistent sharp riff-patterns and the cool chorus. “Only Way” would be a pleasant surprise with fast aggressive guitars the guys moshing with vigour and Wiren sounding really pissed behind the mike; a sheer headbanging delight which “sinks” into the jarring heaviness of “Two Seconds”, a fitting quasi-groovy epitaph to this typical 90’s roller-coaster.

There are absolutely no traces of any classic technical flourishes akin to the Midas Touch feats; this is one of the finest albums to epitomize the better side of the 90’s musical horizon, I mean these acts, mostly belonging to the industrial arena, who preserved the “thrash” tag and translated it for the 90’s generation; bands like Ministry, Die Krupps, Malhavoc, Swamp Terrorists, Skrew, Fetish 69, God is LSD, etc. Certainly, much of the classic metal fanbase condemned this version of their favourite music, but new audience was immediately attracted to it so there was balance achieved in the long run. Misery Loves Co. stood proud among these celebrated outfits although their contribution to the thrash side of the movement was depleted with this album alone. “Not Like Them” (1997) emphasized on the several alternative sections that were heard here, and was a much lighter offering with not many aggressive strokes. “Your Vision Was Never Mine to Share” (2000) delineated itself further from any thrash or noise, and was closer to the industrial rock exploits of Killing Joke than to any of the aforementioned acts.

Logically, with the coming of the new millennium and the old school resurrection wave, the band disappeared. Wiren could have meditated over the prospects of reviving his old love Midas Touch, but that never occurred. Instead, in 2016 he announced the reformation of Misery Loves Co. The two guys are back together, and I guess it would be by all means interesting to see how the kings of the Scandinavian industrial brotherhood would be able to fit into the current retro metal revival carnival.