Grave Miasma‘s new mini-album, Endless Pilgrimage, much like the rest of their discography, sounds as if it’s been conjured from the deepest, darkest recesses of the extreme metal realm. Never the type to simply jam-pack their releases with meaty, death metal riffs, the London quartet once again pulls from a deep bag of tricks — some layered echo and reverb effects here, a sitar there, etc. — to augment their sonic filth and turn it into something truly captivating. It’s a standout release in an already-solid year for death metal.
The thing you’ll notice on your first listen to Endless Pilgrimage is just how much the band’s packed in here. Five songs and not-quite-35 minutes unfold with far more intrigue and complexity than those numbers, in and of themselves, would suggest to be possible. Songs like “Utterance of the Foulest Spirit” shift so effortlessly between eerie, melodic passages and blast-beat-driven overkill that picking out all of its intricacies becomes something that happens not on that first listen, but on your fourth or fifth — if not longer.
So yes, the album may be a dense listen, but it’s also an exceedingly entrancing one, with a great deal of replay value. Having also spent time in bands like Cruciamentum and Crom Dubh, the band members just know extreme music. More importantly, four releases in — eight if you count the time they spent in their previous incarnation, Goat Molestör — they’ve figured out how best to combine their influences from within that realm and turn them into compelling compositions. The final ingredient, of course, is getting it all to sound good.
Fortunately, the band retained producer Jaime Gomez Arellano (Paradise Lost, Malthusian, try-to-find-someone-the-dude-hasn’t-worked-with) to make that happen. As we saw on 2013’s full-length debut, Odori Sepulcrorum, Arellano’s analog-only approach maintains a fundamental rawness in the band’s sound, but there’s a thickness to his production that almost seems to mimic a leap off a cliff into some unidentified abyss. On a song like “Glorification of the Impure,” that can mean the difference between attacking the listener head on — the way the song did in its original incarnation as a Goat Molestör demo — and completely immersing him or her in the band’s hellscape, the way it does here. It’s not possible to overstate how much of a boon that is for the band.
All told, be prepared to sacrifice many a half-hour to Endless Pilgrimage and the gods of death that have inspired it. Grave Miasma’s covered as much ground here as they did on Odori Sepulcrorum, if not more. Sit down and spend some quality time with this thing; you’ll be awfully hard-pressed not to follow the Londoners into the abyss.
Keep it heavy,