The album comes out four years after their last record, Heirs To Thievery before drummer Adam Jarvis went on to fill for Pig Destroyer.
If you like your death metal, this is the album to go to. It doesn't really deviate from the path Misery Index has been on, has a nice balance between grindcore and death metal (enough to help stand out from the wave of death metal albums anyway). If anything, there is a heavier emphasis on melody then before, but the band also seems to have lost it's hardcore/punk vibe. Does that pay off? Well not so much, but the results aren't disappointing either. The first five songs are intended to be a suite (entitled 'Faust'). The songs flow pretty seamlessly into one another but doesn't accomplish much else. In fact the opposite seems to happen here, the album seems pretty one-dimensional and repetitive. There are few standout tracks (Conjuring The Cull and Colony Collapse), but everything else doesn't seem memorable. The two instrumental tracks 'Urfaust' and 'The Oath' sees the band meandering in atmospherics, but it doesn't seem convincing (especially when you compare with an album like Immolation, who seemed to have mastered the art of cold atmosphere in death metal). As opposed to their openers in the past ('We Never Come In Peace'), the instrumental tracks seem pretty useless.
In terms of performance, the band is pretty much what you would expect from the genre. Adam Jarvis is a phenomenally fast drummer, but seems to be pretty under-utilized here. Not sure if it's a conscious effort to separate themselves from his mathematical drumming on Book Burner, but Jarvis is usually jut blast beating or double peddling here. Guitars are pretty much the same despite a line-up change, though I guess the punk influence left with John Voyles' departure. If anything, you wouldn't know there was a change in the line-up. John Gallagher from Dying Fetus lends a wild guitar solo on 'Colony Collapse' which is surprisingly memorable. Band leader Jason Netherton is on absolute top form here. His vocals sound more ferocious and he even brings in some sharp barks on this album. His bassline can be heard quite well too, and his tone definitely brings a lot of character to the songs, adding a dimension of fury. I have no idea what he's saying so far and there hasn't been an official release of the lyrics, and his lyrics have been one of the best in the genre. I may revisit this review and add some lines once I got a hold of the lyrics.
In terms of production, the mix is about right. The drums are audibly loud and carry a lot of depth, though that's the same mix they have been tinkering with for years anyway. The mastering, however, is pretty subpar and doesn't lend to the music in anyway. The dynamic range is a dismal value of DR5. This isn't going to deter casual fans anyway.
All in all, I would say the album is a bit of a letdown. Yes it's still heaps above the average death metal album, and despite the lack of memorable hooks, the album still has a lot of flow and works very well as background music or when working out (this is definitely going to be on my gym playlist). I sorely miss the punk vibes that made Traitors such a great album, and I still think that that is their crowning achievement.