Since forming in the infernal year of 2007, Swedish death metallers Miasmal have gone from promising upstarts—the group’s self-titled debut made evil underground waves in 2011—to innovative veterans. The Gothenburgers new album, Tides of Omniscience, isn’t just transformative, it’s proof positive that in the confines of death metal there’s plenty of room for forward progress without uprooting what the forefathers had in mind. “Tides of Omniscience is our hardest, yet most dynamic album yet,” asserts Miasmal frontman Pontus Redig. “It's more of everything: more metal, faster stuff, but also more melodies and slower parts. The vocals are more intense and the production is our best ever. It also features killer artwork!”
Whereas previous album Cursed Redeemer was hewn from Cthulhu’s grimy, slimy tentacles and doused in a vat of Sweden’s cheapest, dirtiest swill, Miasmal’s new album is a revelation of ultra-tight, razor-sharp death. Mainly written by Redig and assisted by the rest of the band in the group’s rehearsal space/recording studio over the course of a year, Tides of Omniscience represents a band on the verge of greatness. The group’s third full-length is both utterly savage yet melodically epic. “The material is written in solitude,” the frontman explains. “Then, I usually spend quite some time making a good sounding demo, with guitars, bass, and programmed drums. Then, I'll send it to the others and we'll learn it together at rehearsal. Someone might have an idea of rearranging a part, but we don't change a lot at the rehearsal space. For me, this is the most efficient way of working and I'd say the others agree.”
What sets Tides of Omniscience apart from every death metal album in 2016 is its brutality and diversity. Tracks like “Deception” and “The Shifting of Stars” are next-generation incredible—sonically, they’re cut from the same cloth as Cursed Redeemer’s closing track “2013”—insofar as they wave the blastbeat banner triumphantly while also pairing the intensity with killer guitar solos and breathtaking acoustic passages. Other tracks like “Axiom” and “Key to Eternity” pivot on an healthy dose of heavy Swedish hardcore—Redig also plays guitar with lauded outfit Martyrdöd. By folding in unhinged hardcore, Miasmal have given their brand of death metal a fire-breathing engine. Really, Tides of Omniscience is the Swedes’ most note-worthy release to date. But its beginnings are relatively humble.
“Whenever I sit down with a guitar, usually something comes out,” says Redig. “It can be at any time of the day. One of my favorite riffs on the album came to me out of nowhere when I did the dishes. So, I had to lay the dishes down, pick up a guitar and record the riff on my phone so I didn’t forget it. Ideas can come at any time. Sometimes you might think something is completely useless, but I record almost all ideas I get and then revisit them, because a lot of times I find a new aspect of a riff, and it can lead to something else.”
Most bands spend loads of cash to record in renowned studios with name-drop worthy producers. Not Miasmal. For the recordings, they kept Tides of Omniscience close to the vest, writing and recording in their rehearsal space. The results are, if classic recordings by Dismember, Entombed, and Death are anything to go by, vicious yet warm and clear. “[Our rehearsal space] is a pretty big room that works well for recording,” the frontman grins. “I have a portable studio called ‘The Recording Machine’ and I have recorded plenty of other bands as well. We recorded our early stuff by ourselves too, so it wasn’t a new situation. We never really had someone producing our stuff—as in tampering with the songs—and we are quite confident in our ability to decide what is a good take or not, so the recording process was pretty much smooth sailing.”
Although, Tides of Omniscience was recorded in a homespun environment—to great results—the album was mixed at Gothenburg’s famous Fredman Studios. Known for housing At the Gates, Opeth, and Luciferion, the Swedes knew what they were going to get by working with Fredman Studios for the mixing and mastering of Tides of Omniscience. Then again, they’ve been there before.
“Fredman are professionals, perceptive, and generally great to work with,” says Redig. “I have been there several times before, both with Miasmal and other bands. They have the ability to make a clear sounding mix that still has a lot of punch and rawness. It’s a relaxed atmosphere, and I like that I can get there in 20 minutes, sit down, have some coffee, and be present during the mix process.”
Lyrically speaking, Miasmal wanted the songs on Tides of Omniscience to be open for interpretation. They’re drawn from Redig’s life experiences, his views on the state of the world, as well as death, love, loss, pain, alcohol, and ecstasy. If listeners walk away with anything from songs like “The Pilgrimage”, “Earthbound”, “Fear the New Flesh”, or “Venomous Harvest”, it’s that Miasmal are, like all of us, powering through the vagaries of life. As for the album title, Tides of Omniscience, it was inspired by Mattias Frisk’s stunning album art. “The title actually came to me from the finished artwork,” remembers Miasmal’s chief. “These three figures: where are they, what’s surrounding them, what are they? What are they looking for? What have they endured, and for what? A parallel could easily be drawn to the present times, where information is everywhere. Is it necessarily a good thing, is life better now? I don’t know. It really is open for interpretation, and for me the title is more of a ‘feeling’ than a ‘meaning’.”
As where Tides of Omniscience will take the Swedes is open to the variables of death metal, the record industry, and the public’s exposure to Miasmal’s ferocious death metal. But this much is certain: the Gothenburgers will carry on. Death metal is, by and large, woven into the group’s fabric. They’ve accomplished what they’ve set to do when they issued the first copies their self-titled demo in 2008. “To me, it’s all about making records,” Redig says. “The whole creative process behind it. Everything else is a bonus. I love playing live, touring and so on, but the record is always most important to me. Playing live is just so different, it’s more about the present, the energy, the atmosphere. A record is like making an intricate painting that you need to have on your bedroom wall for quite some time. And even if you take it down after a while, it still exists in the public eye.”
(by Chris Dick)