It’s been four years since Maryland’s Misery Index announced their change of direction with the The Killing Gods release, and that lead a lot of fans to wonder what would be coming next. Would continue on that path, or go back to their death grind roots and deliver another masterclass in savagery? Somehow, they have managed to do both on Rituals Of Power, as they continue to go in their own direction regardless of what is going on around them. Once again they have set their sights firmly on modern society, this time on the changing meaning of truth and reality in today’s world. Suitably heavy subject matter for a very heavy album.

‘Universal Untruths’ opens the album, a mid paced Obituary style slog which almost lulls you into a false sense of security. It’s brutal, but in a different way. ‘Decline and Fall’ is more reminiscent of what you would be expecting from this four piece. A full on, old school thrashing death metal attack. The dual vocals of Jason Netherton and Mark Kloeppel offer two distinct styles which work together to great effect. Throughout Rituals Of Power, the blasting occasionally gives way to a less urgent sound. Tracks like ‘The Choir Invisible’ and the double of the title track and ‘They Always Come Back’ (incidentally, three of the longest songs on the album) see a more straightforward death metal approach.  Even then, each of those tracks has three or four different things going on, from drummer Adam Jarvis’ pummeling blast beats, to some intricate lead guitar from Darrin Morris.

The last two tracks turn up the tempo again as ‘I Disavow’ and ‘Naysayer’ round off this quality album in style. The former throwing in a killer clean guitar solo before returning to the chaotic noise from the start of the track. The latter closes the album with two and a half minutes of Misery Index doing what they do best, attacking from all angles in a viscous closing that leaves you a bit shell shocked, confused and a little bit deflated that the album is over. Nine songs and less than forty minutes. No excess fillers, just pure power and consistently strong tracks, which is what you come to expect from a band like Misery Index. The production of Erik Rutan is clean and crisp and allows every aspect of this no – nonsense assault. It is always going to be difficult to live up to some of their older material, and maybe Rituals Of Power doesn’t quite reach the heights of say Traitors, but it’s a damn fine release nonetheless. One of those albums that may not set the world alight, but will always be a solid choice when looking for something harsh.