Crust punk has been on the fringes of extreme music for roughly three decades now; it has constantly straddled the fence between hardcore punk and heavy metal, having been both influenced and been influenced by bands in both genres. The line has gotten more blurred over the last decade or so, with bands like the seminal black metal act Darkthrone adding elements of crust punk to their own sound, and crust bands such as Disfear featuring members of classic death metal bands At The Gates and Entombed.
Miasmal are a young Swedish death metal band that continue to blur the lines between crust punk and extreme metal, mixing the classic 90’s death metal sounds of Autopsy and Bolt Thrower with d-beat style hardcore punk. “Cursed Redeemer,” the title track of their new album, starts things off with a thrashy classic death metal riff that immediately grabs your attention; the guitar work is absolutely relentless from the get-go, and the drumming and bass guitar work provide an excellent backbone. Pontus, who you might know as a guitarist from fellow Gothenburg sludge lords Agrimonia, has a vocal style that falls somewhere between the gruff yells of UK crust punks Doom and the death growls of Entombed; this style of vocals serves Miasmal’s sound well, as the music itself has similarities to both of those bands.
The punk influence is most evident in “Whisky Train,” which even goes into a straight up d-beat drum pattern in the last minute; if it wasn’t for the vocals, I would have thought it was a different album altogether. While I enjoy seeing bands trying to expand their music outside of their comfort zone, this time it felt a bit forced, as if Miasmal were giving the punk fans in the crowd a knowing wink. The rest of the time the mix of sounds is handled with expertise, and the music changes up enough to keep things interesting without making too big a leap into left field. Björn’s drumming plays a pivotal role here, with every trick in the book of d-beats, blast beats and everything in between, and also compliments Magnus and Pontus’ no-less impressive guitar work. Ruben’s bass tone is also a key ingredient; while it has plenty of distortion, it still sounds like a bass guitar, and the low end gives you a good punch to the gut, while still keeping the rhythm moving and providing melody.
The production on Cursed Redeemer is handled by Fredrik Nordström and Henrik Udd, who have produced such notable acts as Dream Evil, Chrome Division, At The Gates and Arch Enemy, and have done Miasmal a great service with their work. There is truly nothing bad I can say about the mixing or mastering on this record; the clarity of sound and the volume levels of the instruments and vocals are all top-shelf production, and really bring Cursed Redeemer to life. The sound is crisp, yet without coming off as too polished, with a a rawness that captures the spirit and attitude of the band. Miasmal have made a thoroughly enjoyable record with Cursed Redeemer, and fans of old school death metal in the vein of Bolt Thrower and early Entombed, as well as fans of crust bands like Disfear, will find a lot of common ground here. There are occasional missteps when trying to combine the two styles, but these are few and far between, and most listeners will probably be able to overlook them. This album is definitely worth multiple spins, and Miasmal seem to have a pretty bright future ahead of them.