Hailed as one of the most interesting death metal bands in the early ’10s thanks to their debut Odori Sepulcrorum (2013), Grave Miasma have been silent for several years before the release of their sophomore album Abyss Of Wrathful Deities. We reached out to the band from London to talk about what has been and what will be…
You’ve been quiet for five long years, and your previous full length goes as back as 2013. Definitely uncommon in a world where artists release music almost on a weekly basis. What took you so long, and what happened along these years?
Unfortunately we have no stories of mental breakdown, extreme drug or alcohol abuse or other sordid behaviour to regale you with. The dull reality is that Grave Miasma is not a band which operates on a full-time basis — all members have numerous other commitments and between this, performing live regularly and taking the time to write music, time runs away.
This brought to mind Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO, who said last year that musicians cannot rely on releasing music every three or four years. What’s Grave Miasma take on this?
It’s hardly a shocking statement. Judas Priest released nine albums in ten years from ‘76-’86. Instead of record labels demanding high output, a centralised streaming service now merely utters a soundbite which has absolutely no bearing on how we operate.
You’re now formally a trio, even though R (founding guitarist who’s been with the band since its inception) still shows as an additional member for the album sessions. That leaves you B-H brothers and T, also in Malthusian, who joined you in 2016. How difficult is it to keep a consistent lineup over fifteen years? What’s the hardest part in getting along with each other?
With us and Deströyer 666, R felt as though he had achieved what he had set out to do musically and is now pursuing other paths. The most difficult aspect is for other members of the band finding themselves caught between the brotherly conflict.
Let’s focus on Abyss Of Wrathful Deities: how did the album come to life and what themes inform its music?
Writing material for the album started in 2016 shortly after T. joined the band. Progress on the songs intensified in 2019/2020, which allowed the structure of the record to attain clarity. Of course a full length requires a sense of progression and flow, and Abyss Of Wrathful Deities is definitely our most dynamic record with the intention to delve deeper into stranger sonic territory with each track.
I found the album very fascinating from the lyrical point of view. Grave Miasma always had its share of Hebraic culture, then you dealt with Hinduism, but this time you expanded and travelled all the way to central Asia, talking about sky burials and shamanism from the steppes. How and why did you choose to focus this much on Tibetan and Buddhist customs and ceremonies?
From my perspective there has not necessarily been an expansion from record to record based on proverbial globetrotting. I can only write about my connection with deep interests, personal experiences and how the two link with one another insofar as possible. Two songs are based on particular Tibetan rites, with a third being combining historical events and Tibetan myth. The remaining tracks on the album have varying themes. Credit for lyrics to “Ancestral Waters” must also go to R, which were collaboratively re-worked at points following his departure from the band.
In a very old interview you stated that your roots are deep into traditional Persian and Kurdistan music. How so?
Whilst there is no organic connection to those lands, there are quite a few recordings which have influenced some of our rhythmic and melodic sensibilities. This can especially be heard on the track “Kingdoms Beyond Kailash” from Abyss… and “Seven Coils” from Odori Sepulcrorum.
You have always been open to discuss the use of drugs of “mind penetration and expansion” when working on Grave Miasma music. What kind of substances did contribute to the making of Abyss Of Wrathful Deities, and what was their role?
This time around, their role was far less pronounced. The foundation behind the majority of lyrics written for Abyss… are centred around our understanding and relation to bizarre burial rites, literary references and mythic texts. The result of which are concepts which have a more concrete — if less abstract and personal — basis.
In another interview you stated many of your lyrics came from night trips to graveyards, is that something you still do?
Now that the onset of Summer has extended the hours of daylight, graveyard mushroom sessions during the day are also welcome.
Now back to a couple of general questions: you’ve been part of a small old school scene back in the late ‘00s and early ‘10s. Do you ever consider the fact that the flood of death metal bands born in the last decade owes you a great deal? Even more so considering that of such small old school scene many bands have been inactive for years, if not disbanded at all (Cruciamentum, Funebrarum, Sonne Adam, Necros Christos and the likes).
I do not think we are owed any more than many of our contemporaries from that period; notwithstanding our own debt towards the numerous great bands that have inspired us over the years.
The album is released, so what plans for the immediate and long term future? Aside from surviving the pandemic, of course.
Grave Miasma is a shared obsession between all band members, and our hunger for purveying obscure Death Metal is as insatiable as ever. Whether the gigs that are booked go ahead or not, rehearsing and writing will be a consistent fixture.