Grave Miasma - Endless PilgrimageBestiality is bad kids. Most legal jurisdictions agree on this1. Perhaps this is why the English Goat Molestör re-branded to Grave Miasma a number of years prior to the release of their first full-length in 2013. During 15 years of existence this remains their sole LP with a slew of demos, splits and EPs fleshing out the rest of their occult-influenced death metal journey. Even this, Endless Pilgrimage, is a return once again to a sub-album ‘mini-album,’ just 33 minutes of dense, atmospheric brutality. While this length is quite typical for old school-influenced death metal, these minutes are split across just 5 tracks. As a band without distinct progressive propensities, this is surely indicative of greater subtlety than is typical for the genre.

And so it holds true. Though the primeval intensity harks back to the late 80s or early 90s for death metal, Endless Pilgrimage is assuredly modern in its production: Sunlight Studios is avoided and HM-2 tones shirked. I would describe their core as a less melodic Sulphur Aeon with the harsher, clinical tendencies of Cruciamentum (a band with whom Grave Miasma shares a style, nationality, record label, drummer and guitarist). The best example of this is probably the opener, “Yama Transforms to Afterlife.” Taking a different tack, the single, “Purgative Circumvolution,” is the fastest song here and accelerates to levels of pace and ferocity somewhere close to grind. And yet, they’re also fond of mid-paced, doom-laden passages to vary the longer tracks. I certainly don’t object to this as they’re executed well and the moments at which the pace ramps up again are all the more powerful for the temporal fluctuation. The transition beginning at 5:20 on “Utterance of the Foulest Spirit” exemplifies this, gradually rebuilding to full speed with commanding percussion and a neat guitar flourish.

What’s more great is how Endless Pilgrimage is an aural blitzkrieg and is utterly unforgiving – but there’s seriously strong atmosphere without resorting to extravagant synths or ambient interludes. This signifies talented song-writing: expansiveness without overt progressiveness, meditation without subverting savagery. The slower passages contribute to this and none of the tracks feel too long despite 3 of them exceeding 7 minutes. “Full Moon Dawn” is the most impressive in this regard. It approaches 9 minutes but is consummately engaging throughout and feels like more than mere death metal even if substantially it is.

Grave Miasma - 2016

I do have a couple of reservations preventing progression into thorough recommendation territory, however. The fourth track, “Glorification of the Impure,” is easily my least favorite despite technically impressive fret-board gymnastics. I later discovered that it’s a re-release from their first demo (as Goat Molestör) and it shows: it lacks the musical memorability and identity which they have now forged for themselves. It’s entirely unsurprising to add that the relative lack of dynamics does the record no favors. The music sounds a little flat and only changes in tempo serve to elevate or accentuate particular parts. As such, my enjoyment comes from careful attention. Let it slip to the background and is passes by with little impact.

Endless Pilgrimage is a cool (mini-)album. It’s brutally heavy, monumentally atmospheric and strangely dynamic2 for what initially seems unambiguous death metal. Their song-writing has progressively improved, becoming more nuanced through their myriad of short releases, and a successor would subsequently benefit from fresh material above picking on prior work. Imperfect but intriguing.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Sepulchral Voice Records | Profound Lore Records
Websites: gravemiasma.bandcamp.com/ | www.gravemiasma.co.uk | www.facebook.com/gravemiasma
Releases worldwide: May 6th, 2016

Show 2 footnotes

  1. Curiously, not Finland, Romania and until last year Denmark if observing Europe.
  2. by which I mean musically and not from a dynamic range standpoint.

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  • Diego Molero

    Can someone explain me what’s the deal with Sunlight Studios? They are named a a lot around here, and not in a good way if I recall correctly.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      I’d like to know too. Every time that comes up, it makes me think of Sun Records and Elvis.

    • Bryan94

      Thats the Studio legendary Oldschool Deathmetal Albums were produced….like Left Hand Path from Entombed…

      The Sunlight Studios made that buzzsaw guitar thing famous…you know :)

    • El_Cuervo

      Famous death metal studio in Sweden. Introduced (or at least made famous) the old school death metal sound (or at least European death metal as compared with the Florida scene).

    • Tom Hardy

      Like El clarifies below, they’re known for the now famous Stockholm-sound and since what was it … 88 I think … they’ve put out over 200 albums. Legendary stuff. Influential, iconic, you name it. Early demos and albums from Swedish greats such as Morbid, Nihilist, Tiamat, Grave, Entombed, Carbonized, Treblinka, General Surgery, Afflicted, Exhumed, Carnage, Desultory, Nirvana 2002, Carbonized, Grotesque, Desultory, At The Gates, Dismember, Katatonia, Cremetary, Comecon, Mastication, Necrophobic, Lobotomy, Concrete Sleep, Merciless, God Macabre, Epitaph, Centinex and more; Finn’s like Xysma, Amorphis, Convulse … Norwegian Dark Throne, Polish Vader and so forth.

      • Thatguy

        See discussion above.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      There was a time “back then” when you would pick up a CD, turn it around and if it said “Produced by Thomas Skogsberg at Sunlight Studios” you could buy it and take it home in full confidence that you were getting a kickass Swedish Death Metal album. That was when “Swedish Death Metal” meant Stockholm because “back then” there was no Gothenburg in any Metal maps.
      Likewise, “back then” you could take a CD, turn it around and if it said “Produced by Jim Morris at Morrisound Studios” you could buy it and take it home in full confidence that you were getting a kickass Florida Death Metal album.

      • Diego Molero

        “Back then” one could find and buy those CD’s easily in Venezuela? ‘Cause now it’s pretty much impossible :( .

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          Not easily… In Valencia there were about 4 record stores where you could find Earache and Roadrunner records releases, in 2 or 3 of those record stores you could also order CDs they didn’t have in stock. In Caracas there were many more record stores and they had pretty good stuff in stock. But remember, that was “back then”.

          • Diego Molero

            Yeah, I understand. Now I just know about one here in Caracas, but it’s really expensive and while they have a diversity of records, not as much as I want to, but then again, to expensive so it doesn’t matter anyway since I don’t have the money.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            I know… minimum wage is 15.000 and a CD goes for 10.000
            I consider myself a CD collector, but I have resorted to online downloading or otherwise I wouldn’t be able to afford any music I don’t already have.
            Which store in Caracas are you talking about?

          • Diego Molero

            Exactly, and I’m just a teenager, so I don’t even have a job and a salary.
            The one I know of is a little shop in Sabana Grande, can’t remember the name.

          • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

            All the best record stores in Venezuela used to be in Sabana Grande. I don’t know what’s left now.

          • Diego Molero

            Pretty much nothing.

  • Tom Hardy

    Listening to the embedded track and it sounds like they never managed to top their best work – Exalted Emanation, but that’s a matter of preference. The brooding mud-like atmosphere was perfectly captured with the song writing and since there’s been little progression musically/ riff writing wise by the band, they can’t come out of Exalted’s dense shadow.

    • El_Cuervo

      I can always count on Tom Hardy to drop the knowledge about the underground.

      • You can always count on Hardy to say the same thing “They have previously released albums which are better than the album they have just released.” If it’s their debut, then he will say: “Their EP was better.” If it’s their first ever release, then he will say “X did it better.” If it has been reviewed on this site, he dislikes it per definition.

        • Tom Hardy

          You obviously haven’t read all my comments have you good Sir? There’s an album reviewed quite recently that’s coming out next month that I really like a song off and pre-ordered because of the site. And, everyone has different tastes mate, you know me from my early days filming on the sets of Band Of Brothers, Black Hawk Down, Star Trek Nemesis and I haven’t changed have I? So what if I like early Katatonia over later Katatonia and the same for Amorphis or Anathema or a shit load of bands that peaked too soon. The purpose of an open forum by allowing posts is for one to express and I try to express. There’s no sugar coating it and I apologize for sounding angrier than usual on a site called Angry Metal Guy. Maybe it’s the cause of typed words that don’t come off the same way as they would if we sat around a fire, whiskey’d glasses in our palms and had a glorious discussion.

        • Frankly, I think Hardy’s earlier posts sound more consistent overall with his tastes. He really peaked a few years ago when he first registered and started commenting on this site.

          Ever since, each comment has slowly become more and more mainstream drivel than anything really worthy of the underground moniker.

          @Tom Hardy: You should be laughing right about now.

          • Tom Hardy

            I love a classy intelligent lad every now and then and you Alex, I raise a glass of whiskey to. I finally did come out of the underground when I signed on a Nolan film but I will not shy to return to the telly if it’s quality mate. It’s Mother’s Day next weekend, so I’m off to grab a small token for me Mum. Cheerio lads.

          • Name’s Dalton

            Actually, A few years ago, I discovered an earlier incarnation of his posts, back when he went by “Gabriel Byrne” (shortly after his brooding role in The Coen’s Brother’s brilliant film, Miller’s Crossing. And by posts, I mean “letters to the editor,” and they appeared as rebuttals to reviews in a metal fanzine. These posts contained so much energy, so much abandon yet the chops were there. Here Tom was, at his naescance, and at perhaps his best. I can try to copy these for you. I have them on microfiche.

      • Tom Hardy

        Been a long fan of old school death metal or death metal generally El and since the former genre’s resurgence around 2006/ 07, there’ve been so many albums that’ve come out man. It’s honestly hard to keep up with new bands on the scene but every now n then you hear of bands through word of mouth and discover something that either blows you away or disappoints. Grave Miasma were just one of those bands that hit my radar early on, that I liked and I tried to follow. Having said that, this sounds mid-tier where I feel like I’d want to listen to all of, so I generally keep an eye out on a full album stream through official channels (zines or the band’s bandcamp or label’s page) before deciding to pick/ not pick the album. I had no idea they had a new one coming out and that’s where I admit, I don’t necessarily have massive knowledge of the underground. It’s thanks to you guys belting in reviews that I occasionally know ‘what’s up yo’.

        • El_Cuervo

          I would say that the available track isn’t the best. Try “Utterance of the Foulest Spirit” and “Full Moon Dawn” and if you’re not then enamoured then fair enough.

          Also, I just checked that StarGazer band and I actually really like it on first listen, good recommendation. Do you particularly recommend any of their albums / EPs?

          • AlphaBetaFoxface

            Also keen to hear your recommendations for StarGazer. Liking their stuff!

          • Tom Hardy

            Payload on Icarus II has been delivered.

          • Tom Hardy

            Since they’re still new to me I haven’t had a chance to fully explore the band yet with their demo or the splits they’ve put out. From the 3 full lengths, I recommend checking out A Merging to the Boundless (’14), The Scream That Tore the Sky (’05) and A Great Work of Ages (’10) – in that order.

            Thanks for recommending those other songs, will seek/ watch out for available streams for em.

        • Name’s Dalton

          I rather enjoy your opinions, and not simply because we share somewhat similar tastes. Or because I can do a pretty mean Bane impression without even covering my mouth.

        • I got StarGazer’s first album when it came out, it was very good and I listened to it a lot. Totally forgot about them though, stupidly. Too much metal! I should listen to that again now…

          • Tom Hardy

            Get on it Captain. I know we battled on Star Trek: Nemesis but I assure you Ricard, I shall not attack. Beam me on board the Enterprise will ya? I’d like to have a chat with Dr. Crusher.

  • For some strange reason, I wasn’t so hip on their last one on Profound. I own it but never went back to it. Let’s try this again…

    Big fan of Cruciamentum. Great review El C.

    • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

      Charnel Passages was good on first listen but still managed to be a grower.

      • No argument from me.

        • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

          GM’s last one wasn’t as good as, say, the last couple Incantation records, Imprecation, Disma, Lucifyre, or Dead Congregation. It’s good, but nothing spectacular. Personally, I want to like their debut more than I actually like it.

          • Yup. Though I’ll admit, I did not get into the last Incantation release either. Again, I’m not sure why. The one before it however was one of my favorite records of the year.

          • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

            Dirges takes a bit more time to sink in than Vanquish and I like Vanquish better, but I thought there was some killer material on there, particularly “Debauchery” and “Impalement of Divinity”. Seeing them live last year and hearing some of it live probably made my opinion on it a bit more positive as well. Perhaps the hugely long song at the end that wasn’t as good as the hugely long song at the end of Diabolical Conquest played a part in making it not as appealing to you? There were also four songs under three minutes (counting the intro) out of ten, which was a little weird given how they normally structure their tracks. The experiment didn’t always go wonderfully (i.e. “Charnel Grounds”), but they still had good riffs at least. Apparently they’re back on Relapse again and putting out a new one this year sometime, so it’ll be interesting to see how that one turns out.

    • Tom Hardy

      Are you a fan of the band’s Convocation of Crawling Chaos demo?

      • That is an awesome little gem IMO.

      • El_Cuervo

        You’re fulfilling AMG’s below comment haha (assuming you mean it’s better than Charnal Passages).

      • Name’s Dalton

        I know you’re not, but would be a fantastic bit of trolling, if you were.

    • SegaGenitals

      Agree. Overrated.

  • Good music, great review!!