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Miseration - "The Mirroring Shadow" (CD)

Miseration - "The Mirroring Shadow" CD cover image

"The Mirroring Shadow" track listing:

1. Dreamdecipher (2:13)
2. Blueprinted Aeon Collapse (3:58)
3. Voyaging The Seas Of Thought (4:05)
4. The Mirroring Shadow (4:55)
5. A Trail Blazed Through Time (3:36)
6. Dimorphic (4:30)
7. Sulphury Sun (4:20)
8. Imago 2.0 (4:16)
9. Theca (4:10)

Reviewed by on January 31, 2010

"Scar Symmetry fans who wished that the band was less melodic and polished will find a satisfying grittiness to 'The Mirroring Shadow.'"

Vocalist Christian Älvestam has been busy since departing from Scar Symmetry in 2008. He is involved with Angel Blake, The Few Against Many, and Torchbearer, just to name a few of his projects. One of the big-name bands he has been attached to is Miseration, which has in its ranks members from several underground metal favorites, including Inevitable End and Status Minor. As a sophomore album, “The Mirroring Shadow” avoids the dreaded curse and delivers crushing death metal that is a far cry from the melodic tendencies of Älvestam’s former band.

This is teeth-rattling brutality, packed into a compact 36 minutes. The word melody is stricken from the band’s vocabulary, and while there are a few atmospheric songs that focus on a mid-paced tempo, there isn’t a moment where the band strives to be unfashionably infectious in their meticulous songwriting. “The Mirroring Shadow” is kept afloat by two compelling elements: the chugging guitar riffs and Älvestam’s harsh growls. The former is the basis for much of the whiplash that will ensue from all the head banging and the latter is a powerful emission of sonic energy akin to a drill sergeant bellowing orders right into a private’s ear.

Opener “Dreamdecipher” is over so quickly, the listener has no time to process what the hell just happened. It’s a blistering start that doesn’t leave much of an impression due to its quick nature, but “Blueprinted Aeon Collapse” sets the picture for what the rest of the album will entail. The pace is frantic, the drums are mighty hammers of ungodliness, and the breakdowns crack skulls. Yes, there are breakdowns, and no, they aren’t like the one-note breakdowns that plague deathcore. These are classic, death metal breakdowns; the kinds that incite riots and thrive on the tears of newborn babies.

This formula is followed tightly, only deviated from under slight conditions. All the pummeling and heaviness will undoubtedly wear some metal fans out, especially near the end of the album. Miseration must have known this might happen, so they threw together a few tracks that slow down the proceedings just enough for listeners to regain their composure. The title track is an attempt to materialize an epic ambiance to “The Mirroring Shadow.” The dark, emotionless prose seeped in haunting imagery (“Like a blind man being left behind”) is given levity by Älvestam, while the rest of the band slithers along on a consistent melody that only gets heavier as the song progresses. “Dimorphic” has a reckless streak, with a wild guitar solo and crazy drum fills that lead up to a surprisingly clean guitar outro, led by a fuzzy bass line.

Even with these attempts to think outside the narrow parameters, Miseration still can’t avoid repeating themselves on “The Mirroring Shadow.” Listening to the album from front to back, it seems that the band is great at one thing: blistering death metal, a trait they exploit to the bitter end. Thankfully, the album isn’t that long, actually ending at the right time. If it was any longer, it would get into a realm of repetitiveness that it would be unable to break from.

Miseration’s second album, “The Mirroring Shadow,” is not a revolutionary piece of music by any stretch of the imagination, but it doesn’t need to be. Pure death metal doesn’t have to be innovative or flashy to stand out, and Miseration is proof of this. The band is workman-like in their execution to the material. An air of professionalism is ascertained; no doubt the result of the years of experience in the genre from the member’s other projects. Scar Symmetry fans who wished that the band was less melodic and polished will find a satisfying grittiness to “The Mirroring Shadow.”

Highs: Brutal breakdowns, frantic pace, Älvestam's harsh vocals, perfect length.

Lows: Sticks tightly to a formula, another mid-paced track ala the title track would have been appreciated.

Bottom line: Basic, no-frills death metal driven by chunky riffs and Christian Älvestam's bellowing growls.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)