Miasma Theory – Miasma Theory Review

Hey, remember Zach Randall? Not only did this super cool dude found badass off-kilter epic doom outfit Northern Crown, he even participated in the very important and worthwhile interview series on mental health right on this here blog. Zachary is practically a member of the family at this point, so I couldn’t let his little side project Miasma Theory go unnoticed. It’s a relatable project too, because just like all of us, most of the band members have not been in a room together, instead using the power of the internet to tune in from the USA (Zach on guitars and keys plus Leona Hayward of Northern Crown and Skelator on bass), Argentina (Juan Carrizo on lead guitar), Latvia (Māra Lisenko) and Germany (Jonas Schütz). So just how fruitful was this Zoom meeting?

Well, it was certainly more productive than the average AMG Zoom meeting, I can tell you that. And for those perhaps hoping or fearing a Northern Crown clone; it’s not, but it’s not far off either. Miasma Theory lacks the idiosyncrasies of its big brother, carving a more straightforward path as a bite-size love letter to classic epic doom, fronted by the sultry Doro vibes and occasional coarse rasp of Lisenko. The remote musicians establish the project as a tighter unit than the global distance indicates, as there is not that much to complain about in the tight half hour of ponderous doom.

The opening track is the least indicative of the direction the album takes, kicking off with a vibe akin to a heavier Iron Maiden, twin guitar harmonies and galloping bass included. It’s a rousing track, with Lisenko remaining largely understated but the riffs carrying the tune. The pacing is much higher than what follows however, between the stately dirge of “Together As One,” the ominously strident love song “Next Time, Last Time” and the simmering anger that underpins “Vector,” where Lisenko lets her gravelly throat do much of the talking. It’s a diverse quartet of tracks that staunchly refuse to bore; “Next Time, Last Time” even plunges into a sudden speedy solo that sounds like it left the garage between Motörhead and Metallica.

So that’s 4 cool and diverse tracks I mentioned. And that’s all for the original songs, as the album ends on a cover of Candlemass’ “Under The Oak.” Admittedly, it’s a cool song delivered with excellence, and I dare say Lisenko outperforms Längqvist at times. But its quality also exposes by contrast that the songwriting of the original tracks is still a little rough at the edges, with small issues like the occasional rough transition or messy layering in the mix causing stumbles in the flow. They are minor issues, merely more noticeable for the briefness of the album, the length of which lies somewhere between the proverbial rock and hard place. Despite being touted as such, Miasma Theory doesn’t quite feel complete as-is, more a slightly obese EP with a bonus track making up a proof-of-concept album rather than a full-fledged debut.

The rough edges in the songwriting and mix do make Miasma Theory feel like the side project it is, like a somewhat lesser version of Zach’s main band. I wish there was a bit more to chew on here, and that it got a little bit more spit and polish. But I mostly wish that because much of Miasma Theory sounds damn sweet. The performances are great across the board, there’s a bunch of deliciously dragging riffs in this thing, the Dan “the Man” Swanö master is fabulous and the variety makes the time fly by. I’m hoping that this international team will not abandon the project when they’re all vaccinated and have real life to get back to, because there’s far too much potential here to toss it by the wayside. But instead of an appetizer, I want the full course menu on the next round, because I know now that Miasma Theory deliver.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Shadowlit Music
Websites: miasmatheorydoom.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/miasmatheory
Releases Worldwide: April 23rd, 2021

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