It’s been five years since the last Grave Miasma EP, and eight since their last album, the excellent Odori Sepulcrorum. Since that album was released though, the death metal landscape has changed considerably, to the point where it feels like festivals have more bands pulling from the Incantation, Immolation, and Morbid Angel school of death metal than they do overpriced drinks. The kind of hellish atmosphere that helped the band stand tall amongst peers like Dead Congregation and Teitanblood has been aped by countless bands in recent times, and almost always with less skill. As such, the concern going into Abyss of Wrathful Deities might be that what once made Grave Miasma sound so otherworldly and captivating has been lessened by over-exposure, and that familiarity has taken the edge off. Thankfully though, Abyss of Wrathful Deities is a masterclass of death metal that demonstrates just why the genre still retains so much capacity to captivate and excite.
As that remark might imply, Abyss of Wrathful Deities is not a grand revolution in sound. Instead it represents a refinement, with the band identifying the elements of their sound that work best and honing in on them. On paper, it may not sound like anything new – there’s plenty of atmosphere that recalls early Incantation, and guitar work that owes a very clear debt to Trey Azagthoth in particular. Yet that undersells what Grave Miasma have achieved here and set out to do. The sense of conviction that radiates from these songs is incredible, and whilst it may be worth highlighting individual elements or moments – such as the slow-burn of a build-up that starts ‘Under the Megalith’, or the savagery of ‘Erudite Decomposition’, to do so feels like it is doing a disservice to both those elements and Abyss of Wrathful Deities as a whole. It is an album that should be experienced as just that – a single, unified piece of work, rather than a collection of separate elements. It feels like intruding on some forbidden ritual, catching a glimpse of something from the beyond, an otherworldly collection of raw emotions and urges manifested in musical form.
Any worries that Grave Miasma’s attack might have been blunted by the changing death metal landscape should be answered by Abyss of Wrathful Deities. The musical landscape may have caught up with them, but Grave Miasma still sound ahead of most other death metal bands. This is a masterful record that should establish Grave Miasma’s place among the top echelons of the death metal underground.
Abyss of Wrathful Deities is out on May 14th via Sepulchral Voice and Dark Descent Records and can be ordered here.
Words: Stuart Wain