Happy? / Sad? Well you can be both now as these Swedish miserabilists are back and they are looking for company. Took them long enough though, 19 years since last album Your Vision Was Never Mine To Share back in 2000. Since then a flurry of singles recently followed and as far as I was concerned a great live show back at Bloodstock in 2016 which brought plenty of memories flooding back. I always liked the band and saw them many times back in the day. If you are new to them, they kind of stand a bit in a field of their own mixing up somewhat sour lyricism along with facets of doom, industrial and thrash. Chances are even if you don’t think you know them you will have heard 95 single Kiss Your Boots which was a bit of a metallic club anthem back in the day and a song any self-respecting DJ will have pumped out the sound system straight along with Prong’s Snap Your Fingers. So, where have they been since falling inactive after 2000, who knows, life no doubt got in the way, ours is not the reason to ask such things. It probably doesn’t matter that much anyway considering they are back as a core trio of original members Patrik Wirén and Örjan Örnkloo, joined by Michael Hahne as well as a couple of extra musicians for live shows.

Guess the music is the most important and things seem very much to carry on from where they left off with a feel of gloom and doom along with the maturity that ‘Vision’ displayed and somewhat divided audiences with at the time. Stomping in with ‘Suburban Breakdown’ and chugging riffs and drums designed to cause industrialised neck wreckage it’s like we have never been away especially when Wirén’s haunting vocals swoop in. Bleak lyrical content and a vibe of dour futility mix with a melodic chorus and beats that despite having glumness at heart are more than uplifting and as far as this listener is concerned put a shit-eating grin on the face. I’m not surprised in the slightest to see the band have a forthcoming show lined up in Stockholm with Katatonia or that it is sold out. Now there’s a match to put a smile on anyone’s face. Can’t think of anywhere better to be than standing next to the speaker and letting the hefty bass rumble of ‘A Little Something’ shake you to the very core. Counterpoising a stealthy instrumental approach with rafter raising vocal power is a good move and there’s something about the aforementioned Prong as well as bands such as Ministry to be found here complete with Trent Reznor hanging around on the side-lines. Add a touch of gothic grandeur and tribal angst to ‘Dead Streets’ and Killing Joke are lurking around too and even if we are naming bands they are all the greats and Misery Loves Co wrap it all up in their own indomitable style, most of the time.. It came as a surprise having not checked out the track listing prior to pressing play to find a cover song especially 4 numbers in but boy do they own Garbage classic ‘Only Happy When It Rains’ here and what an inspired choice to really get the misery pouring down. Shit eating grin again as the keyboards bring a Marilyn Manson twist to it and a look out the window confirms it is suitably chucking it down.

We get slow swaying suicide songs like ‘Fell In Love’ to sit in the corner and reflect upon whilst playing with razor-blades and pumped up slabs of electronic ballast like ‘The Waiting Room’ to stomp around to and realise its best not giving a fuck. To choose a favourite here is difficult but the chorus and melody of ‘Would You?’ puts across a persuasive argument and there’s no surprise it was picked us the comeback single. It does have to be said though that it does have a very recent Nine Inch Nails feel about it but that’s hardly something to really complain about as we carry on a downward spiral to the title track complete with sledgehammer beats and the firm message that “nothing can stop us.” Let’s hope that really is the case too as even when having ‘One Of Those Days’ the message here really is not to give up. And so, this morose listening experience draws to a close with longest number ‘Way Back Home’ a place of safety to escape to a lick wounds perhaps? At least it’s a happy one in essence and almost psychedelic pop, a fitting conclusion to a very welcome return. Now I just need to dig out the previous three albums and give them a spin. It seems Misery Loves Co’s vision finally was one for me to share and for that I’m very happy.

(8/10 Pete Woods)