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It's been just over four years since Heirs to Thievery, and Misery Index are deploying some new tricks. There's no need to update their Encyclopaedia Metallum genre tag—The Killing Gods is still a mix of death metal technique and riffs with grindcore ferocity. Things have changed, though.

Heirs sounded like someone had lit off a string of firecrackers in a fridge. The songs spent so much time at high intensity that the record, while exhilarating, was a drain to take in. Baby wipes and a cold glass of water were mandatory post-listen. It was a testament to the band's songwriting ability that the material held together so well, meeting or exceeding what Dyscordia and Traitors offered.

With The Killing Gods, though, Misery Index have eased off on the speed and pummeling. The record opens with "Urfaust," which is a minute of clean, ringing notes and a melancholy guitar line. That's our first clue. "The Calling" erupts like a Heirs track, M-80s in a Kenmore, Adam Jarvis double bass and fills and blastbeats all over the place, business as usual, but then at 2:46 we get a guitar solo! And it lasts nineteen seconds! New tricks! "The Oath" follows it, another calm instrumental track with frog chirrups in the background. (Recall Morbid Angel's "Kawazu".) "Conjuring the Call" could be a Dyscordia track, except that Adam Jarvis' drumming is even more ridiculous than it used to be. More new tricks: the ominous, droning tremolo riffs at 0:50 and a 2:20 and two more solos! Rather than breathlessly narrate every track, I'll say this: there are solos on at least four more tracks. Listen closely and other, subtle creative touches are there. Maybe it's maturity and experience unconsciously driving this understated creativity. Maybe it's intentional. I don't know, whatever.

It's time to talk about Adam Jarvis and drumming again. His last recorded effort was Pig Destroyer's Book Burner, and I found his contributions disappointing compared to his usual efforts. No worries though, because The Killing Gods is his best work yet. His performance reminds me of how much drumming matters to me in death metal. Witness The Ordher's Kill The Betrayers, a conventional effort lifted high by a drumming performance that can overwhelm or can make heads nod. Same with Cattle Decapitation's breakout hit The Monolith of Inhumanity. Few drummers can maintain the BPM and intensity of death metal and grindcore without becoming mechanical; those aforementioned albums have drummers who can do it, and so can Jarvis. Great drumming, it seems, can do some interesting things to the human mind.

I love when a band when a band evolves without abandoning their core style or running out of riffs. We heard some of The Killing Gods at Maryland Deathfest, and it was a real treat.

— Richard Street-Jammer

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