Grave Miasma breathe mystical fires into their charring death on grim EP ‘Endless Pilgrimage’

GRave MiasmaThere’s an orange lunatic on the loose who keeps promising to make America great again. I have no idea what that means, to be honest. But I don’t hear a lot of people going around proclaiming to make death metal great again probably because the sub-genre, much like America, has enough good stuff going on to help counter the heap of shittiness.

But if there were bands that would come forward to vow to strengthen death’s gates, one of those would have to be UK maulers Grave Miasma, easily in the handful of the finest bands of their ilk going today. The group has been turning their gears for the past decade now, and three years ago, they put out one of 2013’s best slabs of death with debut full-length “Odori Sepulcrorum” (our No. 6 album of that year, by the way). It was smeared with old-school death and doom sentiment, almost as if the glossy death that blocks up shirts worn by Hot Topic kids never happened. Ah, if only that was true.

GRave Miasma coverNow on their new EP “Endless Pilgrimage” (their third EP), the band returns with some interesting and mystical twists to their guttural approach. There is a Middle Eastern-style flourish to some of the songs, and their path feels more crooked—satisfyingly so—than what they’ve been doing. It’s a strong offering that seems to promise an intriguing future for the band—guitarist/vocalist Y, guitarist R, bassist A, and drummer D. Over this five-track, 33-minute offering (nearly full-length territory), they keep brains spinning and their ferocious death fire-breathing, putting to ash anyone standing before them.

“Yama Transforms to Afterlife” gives the first dose of new Grave Miasma and the initial increased spices in their music. Sitars spill into the atmosphere and swirl about, disarming you before the track bursts to life. Guttural growls do their bruising, while the music gets dark and doom-infested before the sitars return. Chants emerge, making it feel like you’re being transferred to another plane, while crazed cries and grinding violence bring the song to a close. “Utterance of the Foulest Spirit” starts on a clean path before its guts are torn out, and feral roars arrive. The tempo hits a wilting boil before the playing speeds up and rumbles heavily. Weird atmospherics arrive, with odd colors drizzling, and it continues to challenge your mind. Soloing catches fire and scorches, with the track coming to a crushing finish.

“Purgative Circumvolution” tears Grave Miasma into new, more ferocious territory, as the band goes off, assaulting the sense with a flurry of blows. The growls are delivered wildly, while the world you thought you knew is ripped to shreds. The riffs hit tornadic highs as they mete out complete devastation and chew you alive. “Glorification of the Impure” is a track they revisit from their Goat Mölestor days (it originally appeared on their “Ancient Barbaric Assault” demo from 2003), and the track digs up the crazed chaos, splattering guitars, and charred growls, with the track steamrolling forward and the guitars giving off morbid heat. Closer “Full Moon Dawn” runs a healthy 8:44, and it greets with sounds wooshing and guitars igniting, with the vocals coming in unhinged waves. The track is a mangler, with chunky trashing at some corners, full-blowing trucking death at others. The fire grows in intensity down through the song’s final moments, blowing you back before the nightmare fades away.

Bands such as Grave Miasma are here to keep us hopeful that death metal always will have decaying tentacles that keep the style ugly, furious, and destructively played. Hopefully “Endless Pilgrimage” is a hint toward a larger package coming from the band in the future, and if this is the type of thing we can expect, the anticipation will be thick.

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