Since their formation in 2015 Polish duo Misanthropic Rage has released material at a brisk pace, delivering an EP and three full lengths to date. Their most recent full length Towards the Greyscale Aphorysm comes a little over a year after its predecessor and finds the group continuing to twist elements of black and death metal together into a mixture of gripping atmosphere and aggressive passages. While it initially comes through as a bit more straightforward than the band’s previous efforts, there’s still the right balance of experimentation and strong hooks to make this material distinguishable from the hordes of similar sounding bands out there.
Any group with the avant-garde tag brings certain expectations to mind, and while Misanthropic Rage isn’t as out there or downright weird as bands like Ephel Duath or Akercocke there are bursts of experimental flourishes to the way the songs are constructed that keep the material from feeling too typical for either black or death metal. What works well on Towards the Greyscale Aphorysm is the ability of the instrumentation to channel equal amounts of darker melodies that sweep the listener up with their thick atmosphere and crushing, aggressive passages that are just as beautiful with their destruction. This is best demonstrated on the final two songs, “The Traveller” and “Curse-Despise-Reject-Deny”, where the band slows things down and deliver dense and powerful instrumentation that’s reminiscent of what The Ruins of Beverast have been able to create in recent years. There are still hints of some of the more avant-garde passages and experimentation that I remember from the group’s previous two full lengths, but the emphasis this time around seems to be more on the darker build-ups and balance between the harsh and atmospheric sides. With this in mind, I did find that the second half drew me in a bit more with its lengthier arrangements a bit more than the first half but as a whole Misanthropic Rage delivers hook-laden riffs that get under your skin and encourage you to return again and again.
The vocals are where Misanthropic Rage shakes things up regularly, as right from the start of Towards the Greyscale Aphorysm the band offers up dense, low pitched growls alongside cleaner pitches that change the dynamic of the material considerably. As you make your way through you’ll discover that this duo is able to touch upon just about every range you can think of in extreme metal, from higher screams and low growls to clean singing that has an almost ritualistic flair to it. Unlike a lot of other groups that try to cram in as many different singing and screaming variations as they can, Misanthropic Rage’s approach makes sense within the confines of each song and nothing ever feels overly jarring or out of place. This is an element that allows their material to come through as more distinguishable from the norm, and it gives off a feeling of unpredictability even during some of the more straightforward and bludgeoning instrumental sections.
With their latest album Misanthropic Rage further blurs the lines between black and death metal, delivering the type of soaring melodies that wash over you with a dark and haunting presence alongside crushing, dense instrumentation that bludgeons your whole body. There’s still an experimental flair to the material that makes it feel a bit outside the norm, and while the second half stands out a bit more than the first the writing remains strong enough to keep you coming back for another round. Towards the Greyscale Aphorysm is out now from Godz ov War Productions.
-Review by Chris Dahlberg
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