REVIEW: MIASMAL – “Tides Of Omniscience”
Tides of Omniscience is the third album by Miasmal, the Swedish death metal band originating from Gothenburg – a particularly notable place for European musical extremity. While not as iconic in the scene as other Gothenburg groups such as At the Gates, In Flames and Dark Tranquillity, Miasmal has built up a notable discography, allowing Tides of Omniscience to be the band’s third full-length studio release since their formation in 2007.
The record opens with the track entitled “Axiom”, with an appropriate drum-fill introduction and lots of heavy guitar riffing before settling into a nice rhythmic pattern. It takes some time for the vocals of lead singer Pontus Redig to kick into the song, but surprisingly they have more in common with Amon Amarth than they do anyone else in particular. The pace of the song is also a welcomed element, as it never transitions fast or slow enough to make listening to the track a drag. Fresh off the back of “Axiom”, the track “Deception” follows, which growls its way right from the first second with plenty of Swedish metal atmosphere written into the music by guitarists Pontus Redig and Magnus, which is always a good thing. A somewhat strong start to the album is apparent with “Axiom” and “Deception”, meaning that things look positive for what the remainder of the album has to offer its listeners.
Track number 3 on the record is called “The Pilgrimage”, and carries on the same style of guitar riffing heard previously, but this time the lead and rhythm parts are distinctively separate in the production, therefore showing off the instrumental ability of both guitarists on Tides of Omniscience. Also apparent is the strength of Redig’s vocals, as he delivers the most impressive vocal performance heard so far on the album in term of the sheer power of his voice and the vocal lines he has decided to implement on the song itself. Following on from this is the album’s fourth song “Venomous Harvest”, which blends from just cymbals into a melodic thrashing introduction stereotypical of this type of heavy music. A rhythmic section perfect for headbanging ensues, along with catchy vocal lines and a much more traditional death metal approach compared to the album’s first three songs. Fans of the Floridian bands will particularly saviour this song on Tides of Omniscience, as it owes a special debt to those bands who carried the flag for this type of music in the mid-to-late 1980s and the entirety of the 1990s. Another virtuoso guitar solo brings this song to an end.
As the record approaches its half-way point, the song “Perseverance” is a track with a much slower guitar-based introduction that may take some listeners by surprise with its mellowness before firing straight into brutal musicianship. Even though a significant change in pace is welcome, I feel as if the transition from slow to fast could have been done better than it is in “Perseverance”. Aside from this, the track itself is a perfectly serviceable and satisfying display of everything the record has brought to the table musically up until this point. “Key to Eternity” is the album’s sixth song, which speeds along with frantic drumming on the part of Miasmal’s stickman Bjorn Eriksson. Mentioning Redig’s vocals again is necessary because he brings a different style of growling to this track, which allow all of these elements to come together and make “Key to Eternity” one of the more interesting pieces of music on Tides of Omniscience.
A considerable departure vocally on the seventh song “Earthbound” is apparent, along with lots of elements not heard previously on the record, which makes the album an interesting listen due to the plethora of new things the band is willing to try out vocally and instrumentally on Tides of Omniscience. It’s somewhat mid-tempo drum beat complimented by the vocals is a contrast to the fast and heavy guitar which has come to be a constant feature of the songs found on the album. “Dark Waters” is the record’s eighth song, is a different composition in many ways, but another one which is quite positive and a pleasure to listen to. The rhythm guitar patterns are simplistic enough to be catchy, but at the same time technical enough to be virtuosic.
The album’s penultimate track is entitled “Fear the New Flesh” and, like the opening track “Axiom”, takes some time for the vocals to enter the track beyond the initial blasts of instrumentation. In spite of this, I feel that “Fear the new Flesh” is one of the best songs on the record, and my personal favourite on the album. The album’s final track, “The Shifting of Stars”, serves as an appropriate climax to what has been a generally enjoyable death metal album, complete with all of the factors that separate Swedish metal from other regional scenes.
Tides of Omniscience by Miasmal is a record that fans of Amon Amarth, Vader, and even bands such as Kreator may enjoy, as it is a fine album to kick off Scandinavian metal in 2016.