ALBUM REVIEW: Sympathy For The Ignorant


Despite its quite cyclical popularity, thrash metal hasn’t really changed much over the past 40 years. It seems every decade or so the genre experiences something of a resurgence, with wave after wave of bands breaking through while still largely sticking to the tried and true principles of speed, riffs and blistering fret-runs. With the latest revival in full swing, Chicago’s MISFIRE embrace this wholeheartedly. Their debut full-length Sympathy For The Ignorant is as dyed-in-the-wool as it comes, and arguably all the better for it. It plays like a love-letter to all the genre’s finest – a thrashing throwback stretched over a thoroughly enjoyable 40-minute runtime.

Having already opened for legends like OVERKILL and SACRED REICH, MISFIRE’s thrash metal credentials require very little questioning. That said, Sympathy For The Ignorant should still stand up to the most scrutinous of gatekeepers. Recorded without a click-track and with as few overdubs as possible, this is thrash in all its unadulterated glory. It delivers everything a record like this needs, with all three members of MISFIRE pulling plenty of their own weight. Drummer James Nicademus keeps the energy high throughout, while guitarist Jay Johnson and bassist Sean Coogan lock in to provide a riff-driven backdrop to the latter’s powerful combination of barks and bellows.

Naturally, MISFIRE are more than comfortable going at full-pelt, as indeed they do for the majority of these ten tracks, but some of the record’s most compelling moments arguably come when the band lean into more of a groove. Fifth track Death Trap provides an excellent case in point. It’s one of the record’s strongest moments, with a steady stink-faced chug interspersed by winding, almost GOJIRA-esque riffs. No Offense which follows carries similar heft, its gargantuan riff all but forcing listeners to comply with Coogan’s order to “Bang your fucking heads”.

Of course, it bears emphasising that you won’t hear anything on this record that you haven’t heard before. Admittedly that’s not a huge surprise considering how proudly the trio wear their influences on their sleeves, but it does mean the album can drag ever so slightly. It could definitely benefit from a little more variation, or at the very least a slight trim. That said, die hard thrashers are unlikely to have many complaints here. None of the individual songs let the side down, and all the requisite elements are present and correct. Johnson in particular pulls out a top drawer performance, delivering lightning-fast solos at pretty much every chance he gets.

Also working in the record’s favour is its powerful production job. Engineered by Coogan himself, everything sounds absolutely massive here. In fact, that may well be the record’s greatest triumph – as though MISFIRE have been able to capture the potency of many of the genre’s most pioneering records and inject it with the kind of crisp clarity that wasn’t often available to bands back in 1986. We may need to dock a few points for originality, but fortunately the band’s name hasn’t proven prophetic and these guys are far more hit than miss.

Rating: 7/10

Sympathy For The Ignorant - MisfireSympathy For The Ignorant - Misfire

Sympathy For The Ignorant is set for release on April 1st via MNRK Heavy.

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