Roland “Bestial Aggressor of Morbid Invocations” C. is having one hell of a calendar year. Guitars on Cruciamentum’s Charnel Passages. Guitars on Deströyer 666’s Wildfire. Now, all-caps GUITARS on Grave Miasma’s Endless Pilgrimage.
If there’s one thing to remember when prepping for the May release of this London quartet’s mini-album, it’s probably that: GUITARS. “Purgative Circumvolution” (hi) is a showcase for self-described “esoteric death metal” riffing. Roland C., here simply R, and guitarist/vocalist Y lead a masterclass on nastiness. Speedy riffs that fly then hang like hummingbirds. Death/thrash callbacks that come full circle. Balled-fist midpaced strummers that aim for the bowels. R and Y do all of this while cutting fat. “Purgative Circumvolution” is lean, ready to run through whatever wall sits in between it and the part of your brain where riffs stick.
But, as catchy as “Purgative Circumvolution” is in that classic death metal way, it’s also sufficiently weird. When Y says stuff like, “I have a huge fascination with folk music from Persia, Kurdistan, India, Greece, the Middle East and so on, which manifests itself at points … rhythmically and instrumentally,” his bandmates help him walk the walk. On the surface, this is slowly rotting, hard-driving death metal through and through. But scratch “Purgative Circumvolution”‘s surface. There’s the manic solo that’s a whirlwind sprint through worldly tones (“Hava Nagila”?). Scratch, scratch. Then there are those rhythms that feel more ancient than metal’s typical modes of movement. Focus on that element, actually: Bassist A and drummer D really shine below the GUITARS. They lay the groundwork to hold those all-caps up.
Of course, the production on this thing is something else. Grave Miasma’s 2013 full-length debut, Odori Sepulcrorum, was a rare gleaming gem: free of the mud that entombs the murky cavern dwellers. Odori was acclaimed for the same reasons listed in the paragraphs above, but also because you could hear it. Good news: Jaime Gomez Arellano of Orgone Studios (Grammy award-winning Ghost, Primordial, Paradise Lost, a ton more) returns to tweak Endless Pilgrimage. Arellano’s sleight of ear here might be his best yet. The fact these instruments can coexist without getting swallowed by the low thump of the snare is straight studio voodoo.
So, all of this is to say Grave Miasma is worth it. It was worth Arellano’s magic. It was worth however many times they tried to get the feeling right on that whammy bar lightning strike at 2:05. Grave Miasma’s qualities are what we hope outsiders hear in our best and brightest. But, more than all of that, guitars. GUITARS. GUITAAAAAARS.
Endless Pilgrimage is out 5/6 via Profound Lore.