Miseration‘s new album, The Mirroring Shadow, is not at all what we were expecting — but it’s a most welcome surprise.
Our expectations were based on the band’s first album, 2007’s Your Demons – Their Angels. That album was a particularly melodic rendering of melodic death metal, marked by the same mixture of clean singing and harsh growling that vocalist Christian Älvestam brought to his former band, Scar Symmetry. In fact, the similarities to Scar Symmetry were far more dominant than the differences.
That wasn’t a bad thing (cuz we liked the old Scar Symmetry just fine), but it seemed to us that Älvestam’s partnership in Miseration with guitarist/drummer Jani Stefanovic had become less a catalyst for change than a vehicle for continuing on with the songwriting style and musical sound of the band Älvestam had just left.
But on The Mirroring Shadow, Miseration has become a different breed of cat altogether. And we mean something like a prehistoric sabretooth — big, fast, powerful, vicious, and with teeth the size of carving knives. (more after the jump, including songs to hear and a digression about album artwork. . .)
The first stark difference from Your Demons – Their Angels are Älvestam’s vocals. No clean singing on The Mirroring Shadow at all. Instead, a range of death metal vocals, from harsh staccato barking to gut-rumbling gutturals to full-throated gurgling to occasional shrieking — and it’s all awesome. When he puts his mind to it, Älvestam proves that he’s got one of the best voices for this style of music in the business.
And this style of music is heavily blackened death metal. Most of the songs proceed at a blistering pace, driven forward by almost non-stop, complex blast beats, with the bass line mostly in the background. Most of the songs also feature black-metal style tremolo picking, particularly on the more mid-tempo title track, and even a couple (“Blueprinted Aeon Collapse” and “A Trail Blazed Through Time”) make judicious use of synth keyboards.
But at its core this is groove-oriented death metal, and Miseration marries infectious, galloping, headbanging riffs, occasional clean guitar solos, and even old-school breadowns with the wash of tremolo-picked black metal. To emphasize the heavy grooves, Miseration opted for a very clean, crisp production. Layer on top of this overall stylistic design Älvestam’s varied but always brutal vocals, and you’ve got an attack that’s both crushingly powerful and memorable in its variety.
Nine songs, thirty-six minutes, of headbanging bliss. This is not ground-breaking, mold-shattering work, but it’s beautifully executed and just a blast to listen to. We like The Mirroring Shadow a lot. Check it out for yourself:
And now for a slight digression about album artwork. The cover art for The Mirroring Shadow (above) was created by Swedish artist Par Olofsson, whose web site you can find here. Olofsson has created awesome album art for many other extreme metal bands, and this seemed like a good time to display some of his work. So, below, in this order, you’ll see Par Olofsson’s album covers for Immolation, Revocation, Immortal, The Faceless, and Winds of Plague: