Grave Miasma’s debut finally slithers to surface in form of grisly ‘Odori Sepulcrorum’

Grave MiasmaWe are entering a period when death will be at its apex. Leaves will die. Plants will die. Vegetation will die. Sunlight will die. We will celebrate the passage of human souls from this place to the next plane, if that’s even a thing, and we’ll adorn our houses with decorations of skulls, ghosts, ghouls, and blood, something commercialization has turned into comical items but actually are things you never want to encounter.

Because of all of this, and the drab grayness and damp cold that’ll soon chill our bodies, having music to make that period darker and more morose is ideal. Who wants to be happy all the time? Why not immerse yourself in the decay and the madness and embrace the oncoming dead period as we transition out of light? If you’re into that idea, you might find a perfect companion in the heavily anticipated debut from U.K. death metal killers Grave Miasma, whose “Odori Sepulcrorum” finally has arrived via Profound Lore (jointly released with Sepulchral Voice), perhaps the most obvious destination for this band’s dark arts.

PrintWe often bitch and whine about the current state of death metal and how it’s become overly polished and even commercialized and pine for bands who make us remember the first time we heard, say, Incantation and Morbid Angel. Grave Miasma is that band, as their doom-encrusted, gritty, ugly death metal already is the stuff of legend, having developed a sterling reputation among underground fans and giving listeners a preview of what they could accomplish with a proper long-player with their two EPs “Exalted Emanation” and “Realm of Evoked Doom.” Their style is crusty, punishing, covered with tar, brutal, evil, and furious. If you desire having a band that truly understands the roots of death metal, what it’s about, and why it’s supposed to be terrifying, you need to hear this album, one of the most explosive in the genre all year.

Grave Miasma began life as Goat Molestor (band name of forever) before taking on their new, more fitting moniker. The four members, who adopt singular letters as names, also have played or do play in well-regarded bands such as Cruciamentum, Indesinence, and Adorior and perfectly capture the evil and horror that should comprise true death metal in this band. There’s a reason Grave Miasma already have gotten so much love and that people have been clamoring for “Odori Sepulcrorum,” and their first record absolutely delivers but also plants the thought of just what this band could accomplish in the future. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

The shroud is lifted, and the ugliness and worm-infested chaos greets you right away on “Death’s Meditative Stance,” with its grind of guitars, doom-flooded punishment, dizzying leads, and dissonant melodies, and that’s not even mentioning the cold, harsh, brutal growls and hisses that drive the campaign and serve to dement you. “Ascension Eye” is more than seven minutes of slurry mashing, guttural damage, and warped soloing that sounds a bit like early Slayer, only more intense and out of control. The song is just monstrous, and the vocals that bubble up toward the end pushes the track into vicious madness. “Ovation to a Thousand Lost Reveries” is totally morose, as drums splatter all over like flesh being diced by a combine, as the growls singe, and the guitar work finds a new level of notoriety, with the finger-tapped soloing feeling like one’s psyche being flushed down a drain. It’s awesome and exhausting. “έσχατος,” a track you may have heard online already, is sickening and dank, with one of the band’s signature darker-than-night openings and a setting filled with smoke that’ll rob you of breath, make you choke to tears, and convince you those death bells ringing out are for you.

The title cut immediately infuses more doom into picture, with slow-slithering pounding and foggy transmissions, but there are pockets that convulse violently, with the vocals sounding like they were put through a glass shard filter for maximum pain and suffering. Yes, melody does play a part toward the conclusion of the song, but what dominates is the terror spilling out at every seam. There is an interlude that sounds like it’s conjuring ancient spirits, and that spills into “Seven Coils,” a song that has Middle Eastern inflections, like a dusty mummy coming with intention to suffocate. There are sounds that just smother everything, similar to what Portal have made into their specialty, and the vocals have a whispered intensity to them as the growls spew forth and cause nightmares. Toward the end, there even is a section that has prog-rock-style noodling. Granted its face is smeared in concrete when it’s over. The closer “Ossuary” is a real eye opener, one that gives another gigantic hint at what this band could accomplish. Yes, it’s doomy and reeks of death, but there is atmosphere, there are strange horns (at least I think they’re horns) that gives an eerie ambience to the track, and the band explores more with their playing. It never compromises the band’s power or charnel force, but instead it puts an interesting, compelling cap on one hell of an impressive debut record.

The wait was worth it for Grave Miasma’s debut, and it’s a perfectly bloody dose of true death metal that will go down just right as the temperatures and sunlight turn against us. Death is in the air, morbid thoughts begin to dominate, and this band is here to slam shut the dusty, stinking coffin door. This is one of the year’s best death metal records, one that proves people still remember how to play this stuff and can do so with an unstoppable vengeance.

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