Reviewed: May 2021
Released: 2021, Shadowlit Music
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Miasma Theory is the self-titled debut album of a Florida-based quintet, each with their own existing resume in heavy metal (including Zachary Randall and Leona from epic doomsters Northern Crown). It’s a nicely vintage affair, though in an organic sort of way, without feeling like it’s specifically stretching for a classic sound.
Even the layout of the album is in keeping with that, being just 5 songs long, most clocking in around the 5/6 minute mark. There’s something old-school about keeping the tracklisting so trim rather than pushing to fill it out further.
As for those 5 songs, well, they’re a mixed bag. “Forever Ends Today” starts things off strong with a very fun NWOBHM style bounce to it. The band was going for “a straight up heavy metal anthem”, and they hit the mark here. Also a high note is “Vector”, with the warbling guitar and subdued melodies almost giving it a 90s grunge/alt. metal kind of vibe, rising into a solid stomp mid-way through. Apparently Juan’s playing here is what led to him being asked to join the band long-term, and you can hear why.
The other pair of original songs don’t work quite so well. “Next Time, Last Time” feels too busy, like it has too much going on at once, all these aspects trying to take centre-stage at once, drowning one another out and clashing where they should be supporting one another. There’s also an odd choice with the structure where the song definitively ends…then just starts back up again, diving into another verse and chorus that doesn’t really add anything. “Together as One” is a passable ballad of sorts, but doesn’t stand out.
Closing the album out is a cover of Candlemass’ classic “Under the Oak”, but it’s sorely lacking the power of the original work. Everything sounds muted and, to be frank, sloppy, it just isn’t polished enough to be worth inclusion here. “Under the Oak” is a song brimming with big, booming DOOM energy, and this just…isn’t. There’s really no reason to listen to this version over either of Candlemass’ original versions.
Miasma Theory is a competent traditional metal/doom blending that calls to mind some older bands of that era when the styles were still so intertwined. It has a fun, dark gallop to it at times (“Vector” and “Forever Ends Today”), but they need to go bigger and bolder, as well as boosting their production in places, to make something that lives up to that legacy.