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Argyle Park - MISGUIDED

Probably one of, if not THE, most anticipated re-release in this series, the remastered 2016 version of Misguided delivers a monstrous outpouring of musical and emotional energy. Not only have the original release songs had new life breathed into them, but there is an unprecedented amount of bonus material here spanning two whole discs.

Fans of mid 90’s industrial/electronic heavy music will celebrate the resurrected version of the controversial original release, which included an all-star line-up of artists (from both the secular and Christian scenes) and which featured a collection of songs that were deemed (at that time) as too “dark” and a bit too negative for mainstream Christian media. I’d say it will go down in history as one of the most misunderstood but musically brilliant collections of song from the era, yet it was (and remains) a great sampling of all the best qualities of heavy electronic music circa 1995.

With the exception of the somewhat cliché narrative “Refuge,” which painted an overly exaggerated and grim picture of what followed, these songs still sound vital 20 years later. Sure Misguided dealt with tough emotional issues and the disillusionment with authority figures (parents, church and government), but musically speaking, while aggressive and angry, these songs certainly don’t have a malignant undertow. In fact, the up-tempo and melodic nature of many of the songs pushes in the direction of catharsis/action rather than a spiraling into depressive destruction. And as with all things Klayton, the lyrics contain a ton of truth well worth heeding.

Clearly the most eclectic and diverse project to date for Klayton, Misguided represented true collaboration (Buka), experimentation, and it would pave the way for the genesis of Celldweller and the more collaborative approach of the FiXT label he would found a few years later. Songs like "Headscrew” and “Doomsayer” (Mark Salomon), “Agony” (Jyro), “A Burden’s Folly,” “Violent,” “Gutterboy” (Chatterbox/Jeff Bellew) and the Prong-infused “Skin Shed” (Tommy Victor) are just brutal in pace, rhythm and intensity.

There are just so many different styles here, so many different sounds. And the ethereal “Circles” has been re-done here, the perfect “intermission” soundtrack reflecting on the perfection of the circle and its significance to everything Circle of Dust/Celldweller. And then there was “Uffern” – the song that I think best depicts musically the dark and haunting world JG Thirlwell articulated in “Refuge.” Its sci-fi soundscape was truly ominous. Overall, the sound quality is exceptional. I had forgotten how heavy this album was. Yes, Misguided contained a lot more dance and punk vibe than COD up to this point, but the remaster brings the guitars out of the mud, and all of the background samples, sound-bytes really come out as well.

There is a lot to like about the bonus discs as well. “Fanny Pack” (new Mark Salomon vox!) is the featured new track on disc 2, but the other 2016 songs smoke as well. “The Communist Masters of Deceit” has a distinctively COD meets Rob Zombie vibe, while the make “cover” version of Michael Sweet’s “Lonely” showcases a more pop friendly side of the spectrum. The instrumental demos are awesome as well, especially the metallic “A Burden’s Folly” and “Skin Shed” (love this version). “Once Great Leaders” features Mark Salomon’s controversial epilogue to “Doomsayer,” the scathing rant (the one REX didn’t want to publish) against those in positions of authority.

Disc 3, with the exception of the acapella version of “Refuge” and the “sans guitar” version of “Doomsayer,” is an all instrumental affair. Many bands are doing this nowadays and Klayton is no stranger to publishing instrumental versions of his own masterpieces. Here we aren’t treated to an all-inclusive instrumental disc, but merely some of the best songs from Misguided. It makes for an incredible collection of tunes for powering down the highway or muscling through a tough work-out. Interestingly, those songs on disc 2 that have instrumental “demos” are not included on the disc 3 “instrumental” disc so there is little to no duplication. In other words, this 3 CD package is well worth the cost. [FiXT]

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