Dark soundscapes: movie soundtracks often fit the description, but so do some metal albums. Name experimental black/death metal band Miserist’s self-titled EP amongst those releases. They use industrial touches, strange howling vocals, noise, guitar feedback, samples, sound effects, and others. Quite unlike symphonic black metal, which is often distinguished by the use of keyboard washes, Miserist uses heavy, down-tuned black/death metal riffs with plenty of dissonance, songwriting far from the typical use of stanza, chorus, stanza structure, and a rock-solid rhythm section to complement the guitar bombast.
The band plays a riff on the blast section of the very start of title track “Miserist”, and while the song doesn’t last too long, the riff is dissonant, and impressive. The rest of the song lurches somewhat like funeral fog, before the band begins another blast section that leaves no survivors.
Just like Gnaw Their Tongues, Miserist specializes in extreme music fitting for unusual melodramatic scenarios of unparalleled horror. Their metal sections aren’t standard-fare either. Blackened tremolo riffs merge with doom/death down-picking and occasional prog arrangements. The use of drum machine here reminds me of experimental, industrial black metal bands like Mysticum and Blacklodge. Never dance-inspired like the sort of industrial beats Nine Inch Nails uses, the drum machine here mimics black metal drumming, but renders the mix an icy, cold atmosphere by being so machine-like. Think Gnaw Their Tongues tossling with death metal band Mortician in a back alley of a factory further east of Brooklyn.
The band does use modern production to properly present the various soundbites and samples utilized on the EP. It’s quite true that black/death metal has become quite the trend as of late, but bands like Miserist don’t ape that trend in songwriting and sound. They may remind some fans of Terra Tenebrosa, but few bands sound good doing so. Miserist is a promising band.
It’s about time metal stops being pigeon-holed for similar attributes between bands. After all, some bands like Miserist come along, and their soundtrack style dark ambient black/death metal conjures more horror than a guitarist shredding at a million miles an hour. If sounds that are haunting and innovative strike your fancy, try the last track on Miserist’s self-titled EP.
Sometimes maligned in the metal community for incorporating dark ambient/industrial touches, more bands of this ilk are quite welcome in a metal scene awash with stereotypes. After all, horror movie soundtracks typically consist of monotonous standard-fare acoustic instrumentals that emphasize scene and character portrayal. Miserist plays soundtrack music for the shutter-scene phantasmagoria of nightmares made manifest in the flesh.
Indeed, the run-time of the EP is just long enough to sample what this band is capable of. It’s a diamond in the rough, a gem in a beaten down path. The metal parts are heavy, abrasive, and often times suitably progressive on the slow sections. When the band programs the beats to impossible bpm levels, fans of live drums might not see the EP through ‘til the sun’s rising. But if you’re a fan of experimental black/death metal with industrial, dark ambient elements, this EP will prove rewarding. The band hails from Australia, and is a relatively untested commodity thus far, but the EP is a good listen for die-hards, and a rare gem for enthusiasts of their style.
1. Skin, Mold & Flame
4. Horror Infinitum
5. Lung Rust