Sunday, August 19, 2012
Miasm - The Dark Roads
Sometimes, music manages to go beyond being just sounds. It paints a picture in the listener’s mind, connecting them to the artist and sharing with them all of the emotions and energy that it was written to convey. It’s not often that an artist can manage such a feat, and normally, it takes a full album to get the entire experience. But The Dark Roads, a work in progress album from one-man musical project Miasm, manages just that, and absolutely oozes with atmosphere from start to finish.
At the exact time of writing this review, Miasm only has 36 likes on Facebook. Given that Jeremiah Savage is offering the (currently) 6 track album for free to those who like the project’s Facebook page, I feel there should be AT LEAST 2 extra digits on that number. Every single track has so much character, it’s damn hard to believe this is all the work of just one man. And what’s more, the album isn’t even finished yet, being continually updated as each new song is written, and still all for free. It’s admirable, to say the very least.
“Origin Of Nothing” starts the whole affair off as it means to go on – namely, with sorrow-drenched guitars dancing elegantly together, with moody, menacing undertones. In fact, sorrow drenched in menace is about the best way to describe the general Miasma sound, although it doesn’t really do it justice - it’s hard to find one particular word to summarise the experience adequately. The vocals are a key factor in the atmosphere, and there’s something very shoegazey about Savage’s delivery of them on the opener in particular. His own lamentations bleed effortlessly in with those of the guitars, keeping the melancholic tone steady throughout. The piano near the end is particularly ear-catching, and manages to send shivers down my spine every time, without fail.
While the opening notes of “Cradle Void” lead you to believe it will be an equally downbeat affair, it actually takes on a slightly more optimistic tone. This time, the bass and drums take on a more central role, both moving slowly yet carefully, like vultures circling a wounded animal, waiting for it to draw its final breath. Vocals again play a key part in setting the mood, and again have an almost post-shoegaze feel to them, the plentiful reverb adding layers of atmosphere on top of the already moody sounds beneath them.
“Face On The Water” opens with simultaneously the most morose and catchy (yes, you read that right, catchy) guitar work on the whole album. Of course, just because you may find yourself humming the intro does not at all mean it’s the kind of thing you’d expect to break into the charts any time soon. The sparsely used piano on here is one of my favourite things about the entire album. Vocals are at their most audible so far, this time letting the atmospheric guitar work set the pace. Even the drums at the end seem to have layers of emotion within them. And I for one would love to knowhow Savage managed to convey such emotion with nothing more than a floor tom!
Probably the closest thing to single material on here is “Elysium”. Acoustic guitar and piano mingle perfectly under Savage’s nearly whispered vocals, while synth and electric guitars add lashings of ambience underneath. “Elysium” is probably best described on the whole as being bipolar. It switches from absolute despair to rising optimism and back again throughout, never once letting any one emotion truly overpower the other. As cheesy as this may sound, this song reminds me of a constant struggle between light and dark, where neither can ever really win (sorry to sound like such an angsty teen).