It’s always an interesting journey to revisit a record you once wrote something about – only to write something about it again. For Misanthropy Pure, young twentysomething me was impressed enough musically by this record, but just couldn’t get into Matt Mazzali’s vocals. Call it a bit of nostalgia, or perhaps just a matter of taste, but I have always preferred the other records from Shai Hulud in terms of vocal ability. Still, this is a record that signaled the band’s inclusion to Metal Blade Records – and for good reason. Shai Hulud’s third LP showed an interesting amount of flair and fire from both the voice and instrumentation sides of things, giving this album a huge amount of energy from front to back. It might not be the best of the bunch as a whole, but there’s no shortage of the tried and true formula for the band here as Misanthropy Pure is a bit of a barn-burner that simply hits with all it has more often than not.
The one-two punch of “Venomspreader” and “The Creation Ruin” opens this record with a fiery punch to the gut, setting some sort of an idea of where this record might go if you’re familiar with the band – or not. The weaving melodies of these tracks hold true even when the tempo is down though, as “Chorus of the Dissimilar” spouts just as much guitar wizardry even though it isn’t moving along like a runaway train. “Set Your Body Ablaze” isn’t as technically astounding, but I’ll be damned if that build-up of rhythmic proportions to the chant-like words of the title doesn’t make it one of the more memorable moments of the disc.
To touch back though, Mazzali’s vocals are still perhaps my least favorite of the Shai vocalists, but to say that they are terrible would be an overreach on my part. Though a bit gruffer and certainly harsher, Mazzali does at least a solid job on matching the velocity and punch of the tracks on this album. Just listen to some of the songs where there is a lot going on (“Venomspreader,” “To Bear the Brunt of Many Blades”), and it makes sense in the big picture for them to want to put a vocalist like him on the microphone for this record.
But as Shai Hulud makes way for their fourth record, listening back to Misanthropy Pure is both a frantic and a worthwhile journey. I’m inclined to say it might be the weakest of the four LPs in the end, but this is a record that for the most part hits like a ton of bricks when it is truly on point. In the long run though, Misanthropy Pure floats more than it sinks through ten tracks, proving that even on their off-day Shai Hulud can still hang.