Heavy music has seen a revival of the lefthand path in recent years. Coven-esque female-fronted psych rock bands vie for Old Nick’s affections with a million monochrome-painted black metal hordes, while arcane woodcuts and Hammer Horror films have been rinsed for limited diehard vinyl releases. But some of the best occult bands have come from a new wave of death metal.
For some, modern DM has become a soulless exercise in technical proficiency with clinical polish replacing passion and fire. However the likes of Israel’s Sonne Adam, the US’s Void Meditation Cult and Germany’s Necros Christos have taken death metal back to a far more sinister and dark place. Taking their rightful place among these bands are Grave Miasma.
The London-based quartet reveal very little of themselves, hiding behind initials and moodily lit photos, and favouring tape and vinyl over the more prosaic digital formats. Such bands may well be accused of elitism and indeed Grave Miasma don’t much care for notions of egalitarianism in metal. Bitch and moan about it on the internet if you like, but the fact is that their single-minded approach to their art has resulted in a dismal masterpiece.
Taking cues from the likes of Italian legends such as Mortuary Drape and Death SS as well as early Rotting Christ and Morbid Angel, Odori Sepulcrorum is the soundtrack to the fevered nightmares from the very darkest corners of Lovecraft’s tortured mind. Ominous doom-laden riffs loom like shadowy demons, vocals like tortured shrieks hinting at grotesque monsters and manic-eyed, Trey Azagthoth-like guitar solos bring to Cthulhu’s flailing tentacles.
They have managed to summon the same thrill of eldritch fear that listeners in 1989 would have experienced as they first heard Altars Of Madness – it really is that good. The production courtesy of Jaime Gomez Arellano (Ghost, Angelwitch) manages to marry the cavernous, reverb-drenched atmospherics of early black metal to the crushing low end of early Carcass and Bolt Thrower, and yet packing enough punch to keep the modern metal fan happy.
By the end of 2013 we’ll have seen a lot of incredible death metal releases (Tribulation, Bolzer, Obliteration and Irkallian Oracle, to name a few). Grave Miasma look set to pip the lot; in fact, they can lay claim to being the best death metal band in the world right now.