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The Black Dahlia Murder - Miasma

2005 Metal Blade Records :: Reviewed by rofreason on 2005-10-25

When someone throws a disc at you and says "This is the best At the Gates record since Slaughter of the Soul", you have to take a listen.

And listen I did, Miasma being fuel for times when I need an unhallowed injection of energy (pun intended). Speaking of Unhallowed, I don't know why, but that release never caught my attention, being relegated to a stack of discs that didn't bear repeated listenings. Miasma however, has already worn a track of road in my psyche, being a real scorcher of an album.

Which brings me to the main problem, I can only take so much of this at once.

The selling factor of this album for a lot of people is going to be it's speed and brutality. From about 30 seconds in, these guys literally take off and only stop to slam a few beers before hitting the hyperspeeds again. While this approach can work with some grind albums, it tends to turn me off, which is high praise in and of itself for BDM that it manages to keep my attention thoughout its playing time.

But this is also its undoing.

The speed is what is keeping and will keep this record from becoming an album I come back to time and time again. It whizzes by at such a blur that you feel the energy but there's nothing to hold onto, nothing to take home after the show but sore bones and a throbbing headache. You know you just got hit by a truck but you didn't get the license plate. And I know that I'll raise a few hackles when I say this but it's the drumming that really undermines this album. Sure, this guy is fast, damn fast, human drum machine fast, but that's it. If speed is your game then by all means have at it, but there are some seriously sick and nuanced riffs that are just buried by the blastbeats.

So I am stuck with this push pull effect here, loving the Gothenburg meets Buffalo riffing attacks, and the guttural vomiting in 4 octaves, but stuck on the blocky drumming that comes in 3 flavors, double bass, rabid snare, stiff 4 on the floor. I am curious to hear this guy as he progresses along the way and puts aside the power drill for more rudimentary (but incredibly useful) tools.

That bone of contention aside, Miasma is well worth your hard earned ducks as this is a band on the edge, unhinged and let loose in the studio to just pour out death metal from the soul for our listening pleasure. No prefab metal or pretentiousness here, just a bunch of kids having at it. And we are the winners for it.