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Miasma Theory – Miasma Theory Award winner

Miasma Theory
Miasma Theory
by Leanne Evans at 20 May 2021, 2:52 AM

Pure and simple, 2020 was a write-off of a year. Most of us spent months in and out of lockdown, with some of us choosing to spend our time making personal vows to becoming improved versions of ourselves. In reality, the majority of us ended up procrastinating, eating the diet of a feeder’s dream and creating a spare tyre (or two). It’s not all been bad, though, because us metal heads also fattened up our ears with GREAT music over that time and tipped the scales pushing up the ante with musical exploration. Bands have also been able to develop and grow since Covid hit, using their music as a creative outlet to vent and express themselves. Some have even drawn direct inspiration from their own experience of the last 12 months, and have jumped on the pandemic creativity bandwagon, exploring ways of how they can adapt and satisfy the insatiable appetites of us greedy music guzzlers.

Let me introduce you to Florida metal outfit MIASMA THEORY, the brainchild of creative genius Zachary Randall, founder of NORTHERN CROWN, and a band comprising talented seasoned musicians, Leona Hayward (NORTHERN CROWN, SKELATOR) and Juan Carrizo (ANNA FIORI/MACUARRO/ZIX). Not content with the already amazing line-up, Zachary invited the deadly vocal virtuosity of Māra Lisenko (MARA, OCULARIS INFERNUM) and her brutal versatility, and the immense talent of Jonas Schutz (CONDEMNED TO DREAM, DIESIS) to guest feature with the band. Collectively, the fivesome create a blistering amalgamation of stifling doom undertones and traditional in-your-face heavy metal, serving up nothing short of a masterpiece in their eponymous debut album “Miasma Theory”. These sensational maestros of sound deliver high quality, over diluted quantity, in five well-constructed, gripping tracks that ease into the impassioned and introspective and, equally, dive-bomb and crash into the more overt thematic.

Breaking open the album, MIASMA THEORY commence with the cleverly structured melodic classic heavy metal sounding track “Forever Ends Today”. The dual guitar opening is wonderfully reminiscent of the NWOBHM, with IRON MAIDEN-esque licks and catchy riffs and the composition bursts with raw sincerity and plenty of tempo to give a flavour of what MIASMA THEORY represent. The guitar work is infectious, with plenty of sturdy harmonies and the wonderfully gritty tone to Māra’s vocals cement the reflectively pensive nature of the track, understanding that life post-pandemic (or, arguably, still very much current) has changed and that unifying humanity is the way forward, with lyrics such as “If we stand together, we will find a way”. The same message pulls through in “Together as One”, with a stifling heaviness and a distinctly more doom feel to it. It’s a heady track with a beauteous ballad quality, and an addictive sultry longing within the instrumental aspect and a smattering of dissonance that adds to the combination of sad resignation of a world that once was, and hope for a new, better future. Smooth basslines shroud the track and delicate guitar lines offer a fragility to the sonics, especially combined with noticeably smoother, mellifluous vocals. The drums wash through the track and MIASMA THEORY create a somewhat detached feel that adds a profound quality to the composition, almost nostalgic, yet at the same time, ethereal. This is a stunning piece that more than whets your appetite for craving something a bit more thought-provoking.

Taking an unconcealed grittier twist in “Miasma Theory”, the band opt for an alternative love song in “Next Time, Last Time”. The track clearly displays the perfect symbiosis of doom vibes meets heavy metal, with wonderfully overt deep basslines and distortion that is present, but refuses to overwhelm, which only adds to the endearing nature of this track; it’s a gentle head-nodder, but with bite and a bit of attitude. Māra’s vocals take a noticeably heavier tone and very much come into their own, paving the way for the brick-in-the-face aggression of “Vector”, my personal highlight of “Miasma Theory”.

If you want angry, MIASMA THEORY absolutely deal a bloody blow to your guts in “Vector”. Pure piss-boiling anger rages through, dealing with an almost ambiguous thematic that in moments focuses on religious contempt and condemnation, but wholly spews about the ineptitude of the human race managing the pandemic, more so religious folk who deemed themselves exempt from following Covid protocol. Lyrical brilliance ensues in the form of opening lines “Plaguewielder/Stands before its congregation/Screams the gospel of desecration/For ritual antiquation”. I mean, hell, these lyrics are JUST as powerful, impactful and memorable as the opening of BLACK SABBATH’s “War Pigs”, and sure pack a punch getting the point across. Everything about this track is fierce and filthy, and it comes with little, if no, restraint… just the way it should be! Dirty bassline kicks off and the first minute is purely instrumental, focusing on atmospheric build-up. The vocals take a deeper tone, but still with a honeyed aspect, although Māra draws you in, like a spider spinning its web, waiting patiently to catch a fly. Her vocals crescendo, she’s got you hooked, and take on an angrier tone, where aggression starts to split and spit.   The whole composition paints a sordid picture in nearly nine minutes of furiously eloquent vitriol. It’s a bloody stunner and such an incredibly well-written track, both lyrically and compositionally, and sincerely the best pandemic piece I’ve listened to.

MIASMA THEORY continue to display their pure balls of steel; anyone who has the audacity to think they can take on a CANDLEMASS track, must be pretty ballsy and confident. Well knock me sideways, MIASMA THEORY deliver a blistering piece of brilliance in “Under the Oak”, and a cover that completely respects the magnificence of the original track. Everything manifests as a different tone and interpretation with MIASMA THEORY’s own style, especially with female vocals and a slightly faster tempo, but it’s just as imposing and stifling and stays true to the roots of the original. There’s certitude in every aspect of the delivery and it is utterly flawless; to put it simply, a very refreshing take on an absolute classic with innovative twists and turns that keep you on the edge of your seat.

So, there we have it. “Miasma Theory”, a work of art, courtesy of the creative genius of MIASMA THEORY. I implore you to immerse yourself in this captivating collection of outstanding brilliance!

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 8
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Forever Ends Today
2. Together as One
3. Next Time, Last Time
4. Vector
5. Under the Oak
Zachary Randall – Guitar, Keys
Leona Hayward – Bass
Juan Carrizo – Guitar
Māra Lisenko – Vocals
Jonas Schutz – Drums
Record Label: Shadowlit Music


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Edited 10 December 2022

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