Wake Credit: Mike Wells

Misery Rites, the newest album from Canadian grindsters Wake, opens with a slow dirge that’s anchored by melancholic howls and oceanic riffs. It’s a fitting introduction to an album on which the band expand their palette beyond the straight-ahead blistering grindcore (complete with buzzsaw guitars) of its predecessor, 2016’s Sowing the Seeds of a Worthless Tomorrow, to incorporate elements of sludge and technical death metal. And where Sowing the Seeds was full of nihilistically political songs, on this go-round vocalist Kyle Ball plumbs his internal landscape for lyrical inspiration, focusing most of his ire on his personal experiences with the cyclical nature of depression, addiction, and isolation. The band wrote the record with that underlying concept in mind, and the result is incredibly tense tracks with knotted, repetitive riffs courtesy of founding guitarist Rob LaChance and vicious drumming by Josh Buechert. Ball takes a brief break from self-examination on “Rot,” an anti-cop track that’s two minutes of furious guitar and blastbeats that culminate in a neck-tendon-shredding breakdown. Though Wake are very good at playing grindcore, they shine most in their slower moments. On “Burial Ground,” the standout suffocating slog that closes the album, Ball howls, “I won’t change / I never change.” It’s a strangled cry of someone able to recognize the crushing weight they carry inside, and their inability to imagine living without their burdens. After Ball’s vocals drop out, the band creaks to a halt, leaving the listener bathed in feedback.   v