Grave Miasma - Abyss of Wrathful Deities
Angry Metal Guy
It scares me to say this but it’s been 5 entire years since the last Grave Miasma release. Almost everything in my life has changed since that point and I would like to think (perhaps naively) that I’m better now than I was then.1 I respected and enjoyed 2016’s Endless Pilgrimage which offered 30 minutes of brutal but atmospheric music across a mini-LP, but with only one prior full-length and a handful of EPs across nearly 20 years, does Abyss of Wrathful Deities find Grave Miasma able to make the same comment about themselves?
Abyss is first and foremost a death metal album. Bludgeoning guitars, pummelling drums and hoarse roars occupy much of the record’s 53 minutes. “Guardians of Death” marks this intent off the bat but “Erudite Decomposition” features a couple of the most enjoyable leads, stomping about with powerful, Bolt Thrower-influenced rhythms. But these aren’t the typical as although most tracks feature a chorus of sorts, it’s not the type of record to growl along with the vocals or bang your head to the leads. Its tone is swampy and thick, twisting its way through weird, almost ritualistic, stories. This evilness sometimes manifests through lunacy; “Rogyapa” opens with a frenzied solo and transitions into grinding leads which reinforce the feeling of insanity. But the likes of “Demons of the Sand” establish this tone through other means; it’s slower and doomier, oppressing and crushing its listener beneath its dark weight.
Though this quality differentiates Grave Miasma from their peers, such that they hardly offer typical death metal, individual songs on Abyss can still feel one-dimensional. It’s a record where the exceptions prove the rule. The majority of the record operates at a mid-pace which paradoxically lulls me into a haze where tracks blur and long stretches become unexciting. The aforementioned “Rogyapa” and “Demons of the Sand” offer the greatest deviations from this. The former develops following its mid-point through trilling leads and a passage of heightened intensity before cutting back to a creeping interlude. The latter moves ponderously but powerfully between faster and slower passages, layering its oppressive atmosphere with dominant leads. But outside of these two highlight tracks, much of the music is indistinguishable as it struggles to flex around the consistent pace and thick atmosphere.
Abyss is disappointingly far less memorable and distinctive than Endless Pilgrimage. It’s heavy and atmospheric but it’s not got much to say. Those one-dimensional songs begin in one place and end in a similar one, not having travelled much, which leaves me feeling little more than lethargic. Another reason for my relative apathy is that the songs average over 6 minutes (disregarding the short interlude) which feels too long and chore-like. When its leads are hookier and the solos more twisted and the atmosphere stronger, Abyss teeters on the edge of something quite unique. But these moments are hidden by a majority which largely fails to engage me.
All of my comments around the music are reinforced by the production. The thick and punishing tone is fortified by production which, while not entirely brick-walled, is incredibly muddy. I don’t doubt that this was deliberate, but the result is the obfuscation of instrumentation2 which may otherwise elevate me out of my funk. In particular, the guitar leads and vocals are buried such that it’s sometimes hard to really appreciate them. Moments where the bass and drums are peeled back expose some solid riffing but when they’re present it’s hard to point to standout melodies. I concede that the drums do sound great but they’re the only instrument fairly represented in the mix.
The net result of a cavernous, soupy production, bloated song-writing and a plodding tempo is that after a whole listen I struggle to pick apart the tracks. It takes a proper pause or a particularly good riff (of which there are only a handful here) to seize my attention, so the songs don’t do enough to stand out and my engagement is inconsistent at best. The attention I committed for the preparation of this review forces me to admit that there’s nothing here which is offensively bad; there’s just not much which is properly good. At least the Abyss artwork is on point: it’s dark, weird, evil and lacking in definition.
DR: 8 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Dark Descent Records
Websites: gravemiasma.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/gravemiasma
Releases Worldwide: May 14th, 2021
The post Grave Miasma – Abyss of Wrathful Deities Review appeared first on Angry Metal Guy.Thu May 13 11:15:40 GMT 2021