Release date: 7 January 2022 Label: Supreme Chaos Records
V/Haze Miasma is atmospheric, sombre, and deep, without being melodramatic. The full-bodied gruff vocals of WISDOM are reminiscent of the powerful belting of Behemoth‘s Nergal. Meanwhile, SHINE’s clean vocals are haunting and moody, a la the tortured singing of Candlemass. The harmony between these bold shrieks and pained wails is absolutely chilling. Musically, the group also shows incredible talent. Since they prefer to remain anonymous, it is uncertain if they are all professionals or newcomers, but their combined skill is palpable. They have an incredible knack for making each song sound like three or four carefully blended together, enriching their vast soundscape. It’s almost like the band is yet to decide how they want to sound, mixing pieces together to see what works. On the other hand, this could be part of their modus operandi, always in flux like nature itself.
The band began as a solo project in 2018 built by ATMOSPHERE, who is also a member of German alternative metal band Gloomball. Over time, additional members were added, each bringing a necessary component to make the band what it is today. Right out the gate, V/Haze Miasma‘s freshman album agenda:endure (2020) would impress the most discerning metalhead. The seven tracks range in length from two to over nine minutes, each lasting a seemingly perfect amount of time for the stories they need to tell. The album has received critical acclaim as well, including earning album of the month in the 09/2020 edition of Germany’s Rock Hard Magazine. After a brief celebration, V/Haze Miasma return this year with the short but very welcome Nebula EP.
The eponymous Nebula begins the album with a dry and echoing guitar that is slowly joined by more guitarwork and hints of drums. WISDOM’s muzzled hisses urge the instruments on little by little, waking them from a deep slumber. Halfway through, the track begins a rhythm that is both soothing and intimidating. Then, suddenly as it begins, it is over.
Hypocrite! …Another Vicious Grimace opens with more of that chilling guitar that gets deeper and bolder while still holding the same notes. The monotony is not at all boring, but more of a comfort that envelops the listener and prepares them for what is to come. When WISDOM’s vocals come in, it all comes together at once, guitars strummed like ripples on the water and ROAR’s drumming attacking from all sides. The sound is nearly choral in nature, despite the shift between mildly gruff and nearly violent. The transformation from WISDOM to SHINE singing is nearly imperceivable, leaving you wondering what happened when it finally hits you. Despite being eight minutes long, this track feels remarkably short, its composition and flow excellent.
The final track, Hubris Redux, is actually a hymnic version of agenda:endure‘s Hubris. The piano here is played by DRIF.T, a guest member for this track. While the original is heavy and dark, this version has an almost lighthearted twist to it. The piano is bouncy and cheeky, SHINE’s vocals more matter-of-fact and listless than the previous tormented sound. Add the lack of guitars and the strange dissonance between vocals and piano, and this song becomes more like part of a vaudeville performance. It feels out of place but makes for an interesting interpretation of a previously recorded song.
A Final Word
V/Haze Miasma describe themselves as assembled by contrasts. Black versus white, storm versus silence, and wrath versus humbleness. All of these can be clearly heard and felt when listening to their music, and it is a delight trying to guess which way any one song will go. Repeat listens of tracks bring new understandings, heard most obviously with the extreme difference between the harsh Hubris and the droll Hubris Redux. In another world, it could be possible that this technically skilled quartet would create sonorous film scores. But for now, V/Haze Miasma create intense bouts of black metal and pensive moments of post prog, sometimes in the same song, and always with a satisfactory ending. The Nebula EP is meant as a bridge between the fantastic agenda:endure and whatever V/Haze Miasma has in store next. With any luck, it will be even bigger and better than before.
- ATMOSPHERE – Guitars, songwriting
- WISDOM – Aggressive vocals, bass
- SHINE – Clean Vocals
- ROAR – Drums
- DRIF.T – Piano (on Hubris Redux)
- Hypocrite! …Another Vicious Grimace
- Hubris Redux