Grave Miasma: Odori Sepulcrorum

Grave Miasma's debut full-length, Odori Sepulcrorum, speaks of ages past, but not with any sense of love or fondness. The band is here to prove that quintessentially evil death metal has never gone out of fashion.

Grave Miasma

Odori Sepulcrorum

Label: Profound Lore
US Release Date: 2013-09-17
UK Release Date: 2013-09-17

UK-based death metal band Grave Miasma crawled from the caverns over a decade ago, going by the Bovidae-friendly moniker Goat Molestör at first. After a few aptly beastly releases under that banner, the band changed its name to Grave Miasma, and subsequently issued two commanding EPs: 2009's Exalted Emanation and 2010's Realm of Evoked Doom. Now, 11 years after its emergence, the band is finally ready to unleash its first full-length, Odori Sepulcrorum, an album that’s been well worth the wait.

Eleven years is obviously a long time for a debut full-length to gestate. However, Grave Miasma was clearly waiting for the sonic and sacrilegious potency of its compositions to sufficiently ferment, and, no doubt, to gauge the full meaning of the messages it’s been receiving from the beyond. The band has dark, corrupting, and cryptic communications to convey on Odori Sepulcrorum, and the album sits firmly in the old school death metal sphere.

The demonic dissonance of Morbid Angel and Deicide, the dankness of Autopsy, and the complete darkness of catacomb death metal doyen, Incantation, all feature in Grave Miasma's sound. Obviously, death metal is drowning in occult-heavy old school callbacks these days, but while Grave Miasma clearly toys with the afterbirth of Incantation and kin, the band hasn't worked on shaping a clone.

The band's aesthetic is unquestionably informed by the primeval turmoil of death metal's birthplace, but for all that devolution of sound, Grave Miasma lays out an evolutionary vision too. Like similar miscreants Portal, Lantern, or Antediluvian, Grave Miasma is here to point out that evil has no boundaries, and its influence isn't limited to any one era. So, rather than reiterating tales already told, the band marks out paths for age-old evils, all set around the core (and crooked) principles of occult death metal.

Grave Miasma isn't interested in hooking the listener with catchy chord progressions or choruses on Odori Sepulcrorum--so those looking for old school merrymaking grooves, gore and grunt best look elsewhere. Instead, the band has carefully constructed corrosive songs that unleash waves of mid-tempo riffing and trampling percussion, and then smothers it all in a wretched atmosphere to bring a dark and massively heavy presence.

That's all there in name and temper on album opener, "Death’s Meditative Trance". And that disposition carries right on through to the unearthly tones and unorthodox instrumentation on album closer "Ossuary". Odori Sepulcrorum isn't an album set to pummel the listener into submission, although it does rain down the blows. It's more about engulfing and then dragging the listener down into the hypnotic darkness, where deep veins of diabolical metal, such as "Εέσχατος", "Ascension Eye", and "Ovation to a Thousand Lost Reveries", can be explored.

All the tracks on Odori Sepulcrorum weave layers of concentrated riffing around blasting drums and Hades growls, but what they bring most is a villainous gravity. No ground is given, and everything here is a lengthy subterranean grind through inhuman murk. Melodies are to be found, buried under chest-crushing riffs and morbid shadow. Speedier sections decelerate into doomier trawls, such as on the arcane "Seven Coils". And cacophonous solos, Eastern scales, Hammond organ, oud, flute, and sitar all provide the background detail to grant Grave Miasma a voice of its own, in the crowded old school pack.

Odori Sepulcrorum rips into the psyche with mordant transitions and an unwavering occult ambience, but plenty of other great death bands do the same (see Grave Miasma's Profound Lore label-mates Abyssal, Mitochondrion, or Vasaeleth for a start.) What distinguishes Odori Sepulcrorum is its phenomenally dense and cavernous production. Devoid of anything remotely pristine, Odori Sepulcrorum is an über-downtuned churn reeking of ancient analog times, but Jaime Gomez Arellano, who superbly produced, engineered and mixed the album, allows individual elements to shine. Where tremolo flickers appear on "Odoratus Sepulcrorum", or where the riffs step back on the track for a distant glacial storm, it's all so perfectly recorded that those adjustments aren't just heard but felt, right in your marrow.

Grave Miasma brings the stench, brutality and unrelenting impiety of death metal's earliest history with it, but the band has built on that with strong songwriting, and delivered an impressively produced debut. Odori Sepulcrorum certainly speaks of ages past, but it's not with any sense of fondness. Grave Miasma is here to underscore that quintessentially evil death metal, and bands with a determined and diabolical vision, have never gone out of fashion. Contenders be cursed, and trends be damned.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.