2021 feels like we’re collectively trying to cash the bad check that was 2020.
Bleak prognosis aside, it provides an appropriately oppressive setting in which to unleash a newly gob-shined classic.
Originally released in 2012, the watershed moment that is From Where the Sun Never Shines by Misery is again seeing the light of day.
Released this week courtesy of French imprint Fight for Your Mind Records, the LP from the horde of Minnesotan miserable crust punks has been given the most royal of treatments.
Sonically, it sounds absolutely massive.
Who better to return to the mastering knobs than Jack Control (Severed Head of State, World Burns to Death), who clearly knows a bit about working on a classic. See WBTD’s The Sucking of the Missile Cock for his bonafides.
At the helm of Austin’s Enormous Door Mastering, his second go round with the project finds the blissful balance between clarity and suffocation. From painstakingly perfect packaging and updated art to extra goodies, this is a labor of love like few others.
Alongside co-conspirators Destroy!, Minneapolis can lay claim to a near miserly stranglehold on America’s first wave of anarcho punk and crust. Having formed in the nascent days of the '80s scene, releasing a long player in 2012 set it up as an impending curio well before its release.
Few bands can bridge a 15-year gap with what’s arguably their best and most definitive work. I’ve seen terms like “return to form” lobbed at the effort in reviews but it’s far more than that.
From Where the Sun Never Shines is the sort of reimagining that defines a band anew. The previous year’s Sonic Mass by Amebix blazed the trail for their Midwestern counterparts and, just a few months later, Misery’s ever smoldering was ignited once again.
To be sure, the influence of Arise was still on display here, but there’s a swath of unexpected influence all over the album. Tucking in a cover of New Model Army’s "The Hunt” early on was clearly intentional. It’s a bit catchier and mid-paced, albeit as performed by werewolves motorcycling through a Mad Max style wasteland.
Tacked onto the latter part of the album is “ICBM” from the aforementioned Amebix’s Monolith. Though relatively down the line and note for note, it showcases their post-punk tendencies. Across the album, one can trace the skeletal outline of Killing Joke.
Misery deftly weaves all of their influences into a cohesive and overwhelmingly crust-punk canvas. Most notably, I hear Sacrilege, whose Behind the Realms of Madness has clearly never strayed far from Misery’s collective turntable.
Aside from a large helping of Discharge, the band employ a devastating low end that rivals the genre’s best. However, instead of a furious drum led attack, the bass lines are given top billing. One needn’t look further than opener “Mother Nature” to hear their trademark 4-string riffage.
When the band goes long, it still manages to be as thrilling as their two minute blasts. Misery’s previous work, however lauded, couldn’t muster this world-ending atmosphere or intensity. Lyrically, it’s another level up, as well.
Conjuring vague and unhindered poetics, it relies less on sloganeering political witticisms than it does something far more intriguing. Blending concrete references with pagan mysticism, there’s a tribal and rousing sensibility that’s as desolated as it is enamored by the natural world. It only adds to the cold remove of apocalyptic crust’s most ambitious albums.
Elsewhere, you’ll find flashes of Motörhead which, if we’re in agreement, is more necessary than coincidental.
At times, they inject the rhythmic and straightforward heft of Bolt Thrower. It’s a towering piece of music.
Highwater marks are scattered across nearly every track, but the religious-bating “God Squad” and the oddly hopeful closer “All of Us” are in the running. Ditto for the ferocious backing vocals on “Autonomy," another late comer to my album query.
This is a scabrous and majestic collection of songs that should be held in higher esteem. Label owner Flox Soyez of Fight for Your Mind Records has clearly obliged.
Go back to the relative normalcy of 2012 and pick up a classic you may have missed. Up the punx.