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Every Misery Signals Album Ranked Worst to Best

Pro tip: Mentioning Misery Signals in any metalcore convo is sure to win you some serious points. They’re your favorite metalcore band’s favorite metalcore band. Sorry, “favourite” for the Canadian members. U in or U out, nobody does melodic metalcore like Mis Sigs. Ah, melodic metalcore… A label given to metalcore bands who can actually play guitar and aim to elicit more emotions than “come at me, bro” alone. The technical and emotional riffs in their otherworldly compositions helped elevate the genre, but the songs are accessible enough to keep us way less annoying than, say, a Between The Buried and Me fan. Mostly, we just think it’s cool that these unassuming, clean-cut gentlemen make such punishingly hard, scare your momma, fuck-shit-up-in-the-pit type bangers. And yes, they’ve had some drama along the way, but that happens when hyper-creative artists care a lot. What matters now is that they’ve buried the hatchets like grown ass men, and have both Jesse and Karl on the farewell tour this Summer and Fall. Our hearts are full and broken at the same time. So here’s a ranking that is sure to cause some pissy little stirrings. You can have your “Karl or Jesse” debates if you want, but it was a sonic treat to give every single one of these albums another once over.

Honorable Mention: Self-Titled EP (2003)

It’s mainly on this list as cocky fanboy proof that we’re aware of their pre-”Malice” music. In the Napster/Limewire days, leaked tracks like “Lie Captive” and an early version of “The Year Summer Ended in June” were our introduction to the band (and we were hooked.) Adding the name “Jordo” on the “Malice” version made it more personal and all the more real that Jesse had just been through some serious shit. In those early metalcore days, it was such a relief to see that normal dudes in black T’s didn’t need masks or rap infusions to make wildly hard tunes. It’s honestly better than many metalcore bands’ full length albums, and possibly the coolest thing about it is that, in the name of progress, a bunch of great music was left behind and not just recorded for “Malice.” This EP had talent way beyond their years, and passion and hunger that was like, “Yo, Ferret, sign us right now!” And Ferret was all like, “Oh fuck yeah, you metalcore savants.”

Play It Again: “Lie Captive”
Skip It: “Like Yesterday”

5. Absent Light (2013)

On the surface, it’s classic Karl-era Misery Signals. We were thrilled to get a new album that sounded a lot like “Controller.” All the things they’re known for are showcased so well, but those pesky behind-the-scenes rifts seeped in a little. Damn that human element! Some lyrics even kind of sound like, “We might be done here, right fellas?” There really are some fucking great tunes though. The soulful guitars are basically solos as riffs, and while other bands shoehorn in a violin or cello just to say “We’re growing as artists,” Mis Sigs does it right. You can tell a ton of time and effort went into it. It’s crisp as hell. Closing it out with the goosebump-enducing vocals of Fredua Boakye was a stroke of genius. “Everything Will Rust” sends chills every single time. Overall, it’s a solid album start to finish, but the fact that they barely toured it (and broke up after it) makes us think that they’d have it at this spot too.

Play It Again: “Reborn (An Execution)”
Skip It: “Departure”

4. Ultraviolet (2020)

Jesse’s back! And news of a new Misery Signals album gave us something to look forward to during that whole pandemic hoopla. When we finally got to hear it, we were treated to banger after banger off the top. Those first 3 tracks are as good an “opening 3 tracks” as you can get. Just hard and intense and everything we love about them. The instrumentals were tough-as-nails hardcore and we instantly remembered what a profound lyricist Jesse is. Every song has these, “Damn, I know exactly what you mean, dude” moments. We then get a few “middle of the album” tracks (if you know what we mean), but they bookend it with a few absolute killers to leave us wanting more. Hear that, fellas?! We want more! This O.G lineup does follow up “Malice” nicely. It has some really heartfelt, personal themes that really hit home. Sadly, it’s 16 years later and we’re 16 years older. If this exact album dropped when we were impressionable teens, it might’ve very well been our “Malice.” As we’ve seen on Reddit, this was some youngins’ first taste of the band, and they’re now going back over the discography. Lucky little bastards.

Play It Again: “The Tempest”
Skip It: “The Fall”

3. Mirrors (2006)

A few dummies have labeled it a “sophomore slump,” but really it’s the best possible album that could’ve been made after they had to swap one Canadian vocalist for another. What’s in the metalcore frontman waters in Canada? Maybe behind all that politeness is repressed rage to unleash on the ‘Mericans. It’s no sophomore slump. It’s a new frontman plus the band’s want to experiment a bit more than dummies may have wanted. Sit your middle-aged ass in a La-Z-boy with a neat glass of bourbon and appreciate the start-to-finish experience they want you to have! Yes, Karl had quite the task of connecting with existing fans who loved Jesse. But he brought more of a tough-guy bellow for that “hell yeah” stank face, and a whole different set of personal themes that we got behind for sure. Kicking off the album with “Face Yourself” and “The Failsafe” could send you into fucking battle. As devil’s advocate for the dummies, the very experimental midsection did lack crowd-pleasing breakdowns and anthems we were dying for at the live show. “Anchor” is a straight up banger that is honestly one of our all time favorite tracks. And the clean singing on “One Day I’ll Stay Home” is fucking sick, so back off, dummies!

Play It Again: “Anchor”
Skip It: “Post Collapse”

2. Of Malice and the Magnum Heart (2004)

Sorry. We also hate ourselves for putting the number 2 beside this album, so we’ll just nod along to the hateful comments, thinking, “Yep, you all make great hateful points, and you’re right we should jump off a bridge.” It’s a bonafide #1 on many “Best Metalcore Albums” lists, and was possibly even your gateway into metalcore. It was a perfect storm of the band’s hunger, youthful energy, love of brutally heavy music, and solidarity after a tragic event. We all marvel at the singular piece of art that is “The Year Summer Ended in June,” even though “Five Years” is our favorite Mis Sigs track. It might possibly be the best song of all time. When we heard the soft instrumental bliss of “Worlds and Dreams” smack dab in the middle of the brutality, we (and every band that followed) knew that this genre had so much more to offer. Going directly into a track called “Murder” is the perfect example that metalcore was somehow too soft and too hard for your average metalhead at the time. And these guys were only in their early 20s! Guitar virtuoso and creative force Ryan Morgan composed songs that seasoned vets can only dream of! And his younger brother Branden just happened to be a world class drummer?! An embarrassment of riches in the Morgan household. While we’re at it, Stu and Kyle are never just strumming along. Their technicality and noodlings in and around Ryan’s lead is what fills the space and sets the band apart. Jesse’s emotional maturity was second to none. He openly discusses what the rest of us would finally spew in one big trauma-dump of a therapy session in our 40s. It’s commendable.

Play It Again: “Five Years”
Skip It: The 5 seconds of complete silence at the end of “Difference of Vengeance and Wrongs,” so you can get back to the beginning of the album faster.

1. Controller (2008)

If you think this is simply a choice of Karl over Jesse, you’re not taking the growth of four other members into consideration. What, are you all frontmen or something? There are few albums in existence where you think “well, that was clearly the single” after every fucking song. It’s anthem after anthem of heartfelt classics that you can go to war to or hug it out with a good pal to. We have a theory as to why this album is Misery Signals and the metalcore genre as a whole at its very best. Maybe they thought, “Hey gang, we can still be our progressive “Mirrors” selves on complete crowd-pleasing “Malice” type bangers!” It’s almost as if “Malice” plus “Mirrors” equals “Controller,” if that makes any sense. “A Certain Death” is a masterpiece and one of (if not the) biggest Misery Signals hits for good reason. And Karl’s singing is shockingly great. Every song has epic lyrics we all want to scream along to, crunchy time-altering riffs that keep our head-bangs guessing, and soulful “Worlds and Dreams” type noodlings that would give B.B King that guitar solo stank face. Karl’s cavernous diaphragm on top of those full-bodied instrumentals just permeates through our entire bodies. Crank it in the car… Jesus Christ. It’s such a thick, hearty, and satiating album that we feel a few pounds heavier after a full once-over. We could go on and on, but we gotta go crank it in our car on our way to finally tell off our dad.

Play it Again: “Ebb and Flow”
Skip it: The thought that you should skip any moment of it.