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Misery Loves Co. > Misery Loves Co. > Reviews > hells_unicorn
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.