Miasmal – Miasmal Review

I must admit that my heart skipped a beat when I saw Miasmal’s debut in our review queue here at MetalReview. However, my excitement was not due to a positive previous encounter with Miasmal’s music. No, I just didn’t see the ‘l’ at the end of the band’s name. I mistook Miasmal for Miasma, an Austrian death metal band that released one absolutely crushing album in the early Nineties and then disappeared. In short order, of course, I discovered the ‘l’, and my dreams of a Miasma reunion were dashed. My disappointment was short-lived however, as Miasmal is a respectable death metal act in its own right, with a sound steeped in the early Nineties.
 
Though Miasmal calls Gothenburg home, the band looks to Sweden’s east coast for the lion’s share of its musical inspiration; Miasmal is yet another death metal band that drinks from the ever-flowing stream of Stockholm death metal, although, like U.S. contemporaries Black Breath, Miasmal adds a little hardcore to its sound. Unlike Black Breath, however, whose hardcore elements are largely relegated to the vocal department, Miasmal’s hardcore influences manifest musically in the form of genuine d-beats and appropriate accompanying rffage.
 
Miasmal’s standard approach consists of up-tempo tracks full of simple tremolo-picked melodies and equally simple power chord riffing. Many of the songs, such as “Mesmerized” and “Blissful Cannonades” and “Chronicles” feature slower melodic sections similar to the closing moments of Entombed’s Left Hand Path. While the songs do not differ drastically in structure, Miasmal usually manages to give each track at least one signature death metal riff it can call its own. The songs are bolstered by some fine soloing that, while not particularly flashy, is nonetheless ebullient and tasteful.
 
Miasmal‘s two standout tracks, “Death Mask” and “Chronicles” bring the album to a strong close. “Death Mask” features the album’s most twisted batch of riffs and some thunderous drumming. The records longest track, “Chronicles”, finds Miasmal pulling everything out of its bag of songwriting tricks, and finishes with a hyper-speed outro that approaches grindcore intensity
 
While Miasmal’s crusty death metal is, on the whole, an enjoyable listen, the album comes off as Entombed-lite: all the aggression, half the compositional prowess. The hardcore elements of Miasmal’s sound help to set the band apart from the over-crowded field of old-school-sounding death metal groups, but when the band relies on them too heavily, the songs can quickly devolve into tiresome d-beat drudgery. Compounding the problem is the fact that the band tacked six demo tracks onto the end of the album that seem identical in style, quality and production to the album tracks. Initially unaware of the bonus material, I found the album’s fourteen tracks, which total a full hour of playing time, a chore to consume in one sitting. The eight tracks that make up the album proper, however, add up to a much easier-to-swallow thirty-six minutes.
 
The amount of bands ripping off…er…paying tribute to old-school Swedish death metal is beginning to rival the number of band’s ripping off Discharge. As there are apparently enough fans to keep both these styles afloat, Miasmal should have a deep pool of potential listeners to draw from. The band is certainly derivative, but far from incompetent.

Posted by Jeremy Morse

Riffs or GTFO.

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