Odori Sepulcrorum, the debut album by London’s Grave Miasma, is easily one of the best blackened/death/doom albums of the year. Although it is very difficult to compare albums across all the manifold sub-genres of death metal, it surely must also be considered among the best death metal albums of 2013 regardless of category, because the band so masterfully achieve what they set out to do. But it’s one of those albums where reviewers will get a lot more mileage out of reaching for metaphors to describe its dense, dank atmosphere than by detailing the mechanics of what the band do to produce it. Because what they do, at least on the surface, may seem very simple, very primitive, perhaps even neolithic. I’ll show you what I mean:
The album was produced in a way that drenches the vocals and instruments in delay and reverb effects, creating a dense, thick sound in the guitars and bass and a massive (though quite natural) tone in the drums. The vocals in particular come with a decaying echo, as if recorded in a crypt — and they’re so deep and ghastly that they would give Disma’s Craig Pillard a run for his money in the sweepstakes for cavernous bestiality.
The guitars and bass are tuned down and distorted to near-Dismember levels of corrosiveness. Almost all the guitar parts are executed with tremolo picking, producing an even more impenetrable, roaring maelstrom of evil, grinding sound. You can imagine the pick hands flying in a frenzy, although the chord progressions generally move in massive, almost overwhelming waves, in keeping with the generally slow or mid-paced rhythms of this utterly doomed music.
The drumming, which accounts for a significant part of the music’s variety, is bone shattering in its tone. The double-bass eruptions feel like earthquakes, the methodical blast-beats like cannon fire, the tribal-style progressions like the prelude to a sacrificial ritual.
Shit. I’m already reaching for the metaphors before even finishing a description of the mechanics. Continue reading »