Between bands that never aim at anything more demanding than recycling its existing sonic and aesthetic patterns, there is always enough talent to prevent death metal from suffering a significant quality crisis. The identity crisis, on the other hand, never really ceases to exist in this genre, with albums like Odori Sepulcrorum being merely an exception to the rule rather than the rule itself. Indeed, not only that Grave Miasma’s debut was a solidification of the concept they were gradually developing with their EPs Exalted Emanation and Realm Of Evoked Doom, it also served as a true testament to their artistic uniqueness due to complete absence of bands that sounded even remotely similar to them. They were, and still are, in a league of their own, in many ways.
That being said, with Endless Pilgrimage Grave Miasma manages to attain the unattainable by actually stepping up their game to an even higher level, without sacrificing anything that made them worthwhile in the first place. Their music still reeks of the unbearable, poisonous miasma, but the structure and quality of the riffs is so captivating that a listener doesn’t really have a choice but to surrender and willingly suffocate in those ghastly fumes. Still, if I was to designate a thing or two the band left me yearning for with Endless Pilgrimage, it would probably be a shortage of really slow, doomy riffing redolent of last 25 seconds of Death’s Meditative Trance, or versatility of drum fills throughout Ovation To A Thousand Lost Reveries, or even those delicate beat delays that can be heard at the beginning of έσχατος. Of course, this is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the consistency and density of Endless Pilgrimage, because I did. I can literally single out at least a few riff progressions in every song that always keep me at the edge of my seat, from the one at 1:57 of the opener Yama Transforms To Afterlife to the very last one of Full Moon Dawn.
Production is another positive thing about Endless Pilgrimage, it’s greasy and organic, and essentially very similar to Odori Sepulcrorum that I hold in high regard as one of the most superbly produced death metal albums over the course of last ten years. Together with Costin Chioreanu’s visual interpretation of the album’s meaning, the entirety of Endless Pilgrimage experience truly makes for a blind purchase.
In terms of finest death metal this year granted us thus far, this EP is undoubtedly a top shelf release and another exemplary negation of primal aggressiveness and refined unconventionality representing mutually opposed traits. Endless Pilgrimage is a pilgrimage for sure, but one that at the same time indicates many unexplored grounds yet to be traveled by this amazing band. Hopefully, it won’t be long before another departure, as my suitcases are already packed.
(Sepulchral Voice Records/Profound Lore Records, 2016)