Author: Gay For Gary Oldman
Album: North (2016)
Genre: Brutal/Progressive Death Metal
Label: The Black Wreath
Hailing from the charred and lifeless heart of my homeland, Miazma would have to be the first band from Alice Springs that I’ve come across. Not exactly a picture of grim beauty, the closest thing to windswept mountains Australia has is nearby Ayer’s Rock (Ularu). The band bill themselves as progressive brutal death metal, and the term “eco-metal” was dropped once or twice on their bandcamp, and their comparisons to Gojira are not entirely unwarranted, but probably overstated.
The band opens with The Defected Era, and already have something mildly different to peak my attention. The use of tremolo-strummed major chords in the chorus contrasts nicely with the rather expected brutal death metal growls, and give the track an overall more fulfilling and even uplifting tone. In addition to the obvious Gojira and brutal death influences, a distinct element of mid-to-late era Morbid Angel is present in some of the riffing and harmonies, most obviously in the opening riff and later in the chorus of Mindless. However, the band transition between these different sections without any real sense of flow, and it feels very strongly like they were separately written sections placed together for convenience.
The progressive elements should not be overstated. Whilst there are occasional plays with time signatures, song structure and guitar techniques to lend a proggy tone, much of the music, from The Epidemic to Abysmal Thoughts is run of the mill death metal, with only the occasional flair to pique the interest. The chorus of Waiting for the Demise is powerful and peppered with technical guitar flourishes, but is bracketed by chugging.
Much to my disappointment, the band has yet another influence which appears far more strongly on some tracks than others. Beyond Repressed is very obviously derived from the deathcore scene of countrymen Thy Art Is Murder, but lacking the production, conviction and intensity that make that band leaders in the style. A kind of proggy, Born of Osiris feel haunts the back end of the song, preventing it from even trying to live up to the bombast it opens with.
The single great exception to the whole record is the closing titular track North. In a record of middle-of-the-road death metal with only slight progressive tendencies, here is a song which very much feels like Gojira being covered by Devourement with Born of Osiris producing. Whether this song was written as a late contributor and is a sign to come, or if it stands as the sole representation of the band’s ability to write, we’ll have to wait till the next release. But it shows a strong ability to craft engaging music and would appeal to a large portion of the current popular (djent and deathcore) extreme metal crowd.
One thing I must point out is the drums. Very feel very organic and real. I can’t know how much production or triggering went into them, but they sound just sloppy enough to have that organic, live-show feel without actually being sloppy and poor. This is a great reprieve from the over-produced drum sound of the dearth of technical djent-deathcore bands populating the scene at the moment.
Overall, Miazma strike me as a band that could be worthy of dominating their local metal scene, but outside of the local pub they might play at and the occasional international or interstate support slot, there really isn’t much here to interest an outsider. Their blend of the forms of death metal is mild at most, and if the band wants to raise more interest, I would recommend taking some of these elements and creating something more diverse out of it. This is a serviceable release that has little to complain about, but as such there is also little to say about it.
Check them out here: https://miazma666.bandcamp.com/releases