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Love Letter To A Record: RUN’s Lochlan Watt On Misery Signals’ ‘Of Malice and the Magnum Heart’

Music Feeds’ Love Letter to a Record series asks artists to reflect on their relationship with the music they love and share stories about how it has influenced their lives. Here, Lochlan Watt from Melbourne blackened post-metalcore act RUN shares his thoughts on the 2004 debut album from American-Canadian metalcore band Misery Signals, ‘Of Malice and the Magnum Heart’.

It comes after RUN surprise-dropped their second EP on our ears earlier this month. DubbedTrue Heaviness Is Time‘, the six-track post-metalcore opus was self-produced and engineered by guitarist Lewis Noke-Edwards, polished off with a stunning mix from Forrester “Foz” Savell (Karnivool, Animals As Leaders) and powered by an outlook forged through the fires of Watt’s personal triumph over brain cancer. RUN will be celebrating the arrival of the extended-player with a five-date Australian headline tour this July, and you can suss all those details down below.

RUN’s Lochlan Watt: Love Letter To Misery Signals’ Of Malice and the Magnum Heart

Lochlan: “I think I’d gotten a couple of random Misery Signal songs off Kazaa or Soulseek back in the day, and I’d seen their name around on a bunch of tour posters. I also remember Kevin Cameron from I Killed the Prom Queen used to wear a Misery Signals shirt all the time, and I just thought he was the coolest.  

One day I was in Skinny’s Records in Brisbane, and Of Malice and the Magnum Heart  was in there as a second hand CD for like 15 bucks or something; which I guess was a bargain at the time! I took a punt on it, and it’s an album that definitely changed my life. I was pretty fresh to metalcore at that point – and I suppose the whole scene kind of was back then. That album came out in 2004, and I got it second hand so I must’ve picked it up in 2005 or 2006. 

At the time, I had no idea that metalcore could be brutal and technical as well as pretty and delicate, and really instrumentally beautiful and have that kind of emotion to it. Of Malice and the Magnum Heart is an incredibly emotional record given the circumstances of the band’s formation and what a lot of the songs were about. Misery Signals came together from two bands basically. The singer’s old band Compromise had been on tour and crashed and a couple of their members died in the van crash. And that’s what a lot of the songs are about. I think because of that, the emotion is just really palatable and real. Somehow, I guess I was able to relate that actual significant, real life loss to being a sad, frustrated, angry teenager that had never experienced loss on that level. Which is kind of funny when you think about it like that. 

I really love the production of this album. Devin Townsend produced it, and I think it’s a really unique production. It’s really raw, but I think that was kind of an accident. Apparently the band was a little bit unhappy with how the production turned out, or at least Devin Townsend was because they did their next record with someone else. And then Devin asked for a second chance with them in 2008, basically saying that he was too cooked on weed and acid at the time when he was making all those records and wasn’t a fan of how they had all turned out. I think around the same time he did As the Palaces Burn by Lamb of God. And you can hear that both of those records have this weird kind of rawness to them that sounds nothing like the later records that Devin Townsend produced that were a lot more crispy and clear and shiny. 

I’ve got a few interesting memories about some of the songs on Of Malice and the Magnum Heart. ‘In Summary of What I Am’ was my ringtone on my first smartphone. I got one of those clamshell internet phones when they first came out, and I thought it was so cool that you could just put an MP3 on there as your ringtone. And whenever I hear ‘In Summary of What I Am’, it just takes me back to a lot of memories. I remember one of my best friends used to tease me for liking metal, all my friends used to think that I was just a try-hard and didn’t understand my sudden passion for heavy music at the time. And one of them eventually ended up putting the same song as his ringtone, so that felt like a bit of a win! 

Another standout song is ‘A Victim, a Target’, the opening track. I was on tour once with The Amity Affliction on their Severed Ties album launch tour. I was driving around selling merch for Rex Banner, and a band called House vs. Hurricane was also on that tour. They did a cover of ‘A Victim, a Target’ at the Manning Bar show in Sydney, and I got to get up and sing that with them. So that was pretty cool!

‘Worlds & Dreams’ is a really beautiful instrumental track, and this kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier about not really realising that metalcore was allowed to do all these kinds of things. It’s kind of like a jazz-fusion-prog instrumental in the middle of the record that really opened me up to things that I didn’t think I was into. 

I got into a lot more post-hardcore and emo stuff following Misery Signals opening that side of me up. I used to be a real staunch metal kid that thought emo was crap and lame. I didn’t really give bands like Hopesfall or Underoath or any of that kind of adjacent stuff the time of day until Misery Signals.

Of Malice and the Magnum Heart is a record that I can still listen to, to this day, without it feeling boring. And it’s the kind of record where every now and then I’ll listen to it, and I’ll still notice something different that I didn’t pick up on previously. For example, I remember having my mind blown once when I realised there’s a guest vocal in ‘A Victim, a Target’, the first track, from Devin Townsend. It’s just like a melodic background thing. And then they actually bring that back at the end of the final track, ‘Difference of Vengeance and Wrongs’. I remember I’d probably been into the record and the band for a few years by the time I realized that they’d brought that bit back to close it. And I think similarly, I didn’t know it was Devin Townsend either for a few years. I didn’t know who Devin Townsend was when I first heard the record. It’s just a lifelong unboxing for me with this album almost.

I’m very, very sad that the band is ending and not coming to Australia as part of their farewell tour. But I would say that Misery Signals is probably the most significant band for me in terms of RUN’s influence and what I wanted RUN to be, because I feel like RUN is in a similar position. Well, we’re obviously not in a similar position because we don’t have the legacy or the longevity that Misery Signals has, but we’re not really an “on-trend” band, I suppose. And Misery Signals is definitely a musician’s band where they influenced so many other bands. Without Misery Signals, you don’t really even have djent, you wouldn’t have Northlane and Periphery and stuff like that. Misery Signals was one of the first bands to sort of popularize the djent thing before it was djent, having a strong Meshuggah influence in there. But then a lot of other bands came along doing that and they just rose past Misery Signals in terms of fame and popularity. Misery Signals never really tried to make a hit. They just kept writing in-depth, complicated music that true music fans really got excited about. But perhaps for more casual fans it didn’t have enough to hook them in.

It’s funny even now, you see a band like Counterparts who are just wildly popular with kids, and every record is just another reinterpretation of Of Malice and the Magnum Heart. And now because of that, because of Counterparts, there’s dozens of younger bands that are ripping off Counterparts that aren’t really even familiar with where it all came from, or what Misery Signals is. It’s funny how that works.”

RUN 2024 Australian Tour Dates

  • Saturday, 6th July – The Evelyn Hotel, Melbourne, VIC – w/Body Prison, Post Heaven, Play Drive
  • Saturday, 13th July – A Cold Day In Bne – The Triffid, Brisbane, QLD w/50 Lions, Justice For The Damned, Diploid, Persecutor + more
  • Saturday, 3rd August – Southern Death Festival – Lion Arts, Adelaide, SA – w/Disentomb, Abramelin, Zeolite, Resin Tomb + more
  • Friday, 30xth August – Crowbar, Sydney, NSW – w/ Psycroptic, Flaming Wrekage, Algor Mortis + Naugrim
  • Saturday, 31st August – Dicey Riley’s, Wollongong, NSW – w/ Flaming Wrekage, Gosika

Further Reading

PREMIERE: Lochlan Watt’s Metalcore Collective RUN Unleash ‘Summer’ Featuring John Floreani

Trophy Eyes Announce 2024 Australian Tour With Boston Manor

Norwegian Legends Wardruna Announce Debut Australian Tour For 2025

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