RETRO TUESDAYS: Miscreant – Dreaming Ice (1994)

Swedish death metal label Wrong Again Records was, in hindsight, off to an incredible start in releasing formative Swedish melodic death metal releases such as Eucharist‘s ‘A Velvet Creation’ and In Flames ‘Lunar Strain’ but as the label split into two the fates of their lesser known bands would be a 50/50 shot for appropriate representation. The bands that jumped over to War Music (Naglfar, In Thy Dreams, Eucharist) fizzled out before thier time while the enormous popularity of In Flames carried Regain Records to continual success and recognition. In the midst of all of this two unique melodic death metal bands, that certainly needed some extra amount of care, Excretion and Miscreant fell by the wayside. With Excretion getting some greater respect in 2016 with a limited run double LP featuring their full discography, and Cardinal Sin seeing reissue through Blood Harvest/Helter Skelter this April (2018) only Miscreant remains without reissue or remaster from Wrong Again‘s short run to the top of the Swedish underground.

Formed in 1993 with their first demo recorded in thrash band Rosicrucian‘s studio/rehearsal space Miscreant were perhaps too ambitious for their own good in the rush to join the ranks of bigger bands outside of Västerås, a city that sits triangulated roughly in the middle of Stockholm, Örebro, and Uppsala. Their style combined the jagged rhythms and slower pace of Eucharist with the quasi-blackened snarl of A Canorous Quintet but rarely outclassed either. The great strength to be found on ‘Dreaming Ice’ is in the wandering, progressive compositions that highlight several of their longer and most ambitious pieces (“Forever Not to Be”) that should recall a melodic death version of Dawn‘s increasing surety as they approached their later releases.

With some greater patience and perhaps a great admiration for the inherent duality expressed within ‘With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness’ Miscreant did eventually reveal the beginnings of something special with their debut full-length. What is likely the most troublesome point as far as marketability to Swedish metalheads at the time was the sluggish, doom-like pacing they’d pulled in from their demo days as Epitaph (not the one that released ‘Seeming Salvation’). Thanks to Daniel Ekeroth we have a reasonable document of how these bands formed and existed but not necessarily why they ultimately dissolved. It seems they’d simply lost interest or didn’t survive the dissolution of their label and most members would be involved in Powerage, a band that would go on to become semi-popular power metal band Axenstar though all Miscreant members would drop off by 2006.

I’ve always admired the sort of twisted, almost discordant style of guitar riffs that Miscreant used to de-typify their sound and make ‘Dreaming Ice’ distinct from the melodic death/doom of somewhat similar Swedes like Internal Decay and Infernal Gates who were perhaps further from early At the Gates and closer to Katatonia. Miscreant is no less melodically valuable, though, and I think that is why it is frustrating that it hasn’t received any recreation or reissue since release. It is the sort of awkward but beautiful gem that fans of old school melodic death metal don’t necessarily have access to and anyone who has warm feelings for ‘With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness’, early Eucharist, and even the weirdness of early Dark Tranquillity should find familiar-yet-distorted solace in the rhythms of ‘Dreaming Ice’, but also a hint of the accessibility of Peaceville‘s melodic death/doom giants.

Fair warning though, it is a full hour long and while they do mix up pacing and guitar sounds, long stretches of Miscreant‘s opus are overworked, scratched-out, and mid-paced wanderlust. This characteristic actually stands out quite a bit in the realm of Swedish melodeath guitar work generally speaking. It is the sort of album to sit back and let unravel before you, rather than deeply focused listening and I highly recommend it. Though it isn’t available from any reputable place it isn’t such an obscurity that a decent rip or YouTube stream will be hard to find.

 

Artist Miscreant
Type Album
Released 1994
LISTEN on YouTube! Miscreant on Metal-Archives
Genres
Melodic Death Metal

Slipping into the abyss. 4.0/5.0

 

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