MISCREANCE – Convergence (2022)REVIEW

A most supreme medium for airing metaphysical grievance. — For the sake of infinite rediscovery ancient forms dissolve in fourth-tiered abstraction, a style of idol-killing conquer which decontextualizes and grotesquely personalizes meaning within the rapidly eroding new era of the end. Derived from the inalienable confidence (chronic self-obsession) of uneducated, fiscally oppressed modern man the new philosophy is in fact post-modernism in retrograde, or, musique concrete sans opposition. Not the most direct way to suggest that the art of the heavy metal guitar riff has been mushed into an AI-generative morass of style notes, plug-ins avoidant of structural considerations by way of sheer ignorance but, alas… the more “muzak data” you’ll absorb over your lifetime (unless guided by human-assisted AI curation) the more true it will ring, and the sooner you’ll start to hunger for passionate organische performance rather than note-for-note study. As the “future” continues to be an increasingly terrible blank-faced consideration built by generations intent on machining their own identities with complete control rather than living within the natural order of dysfunctional mystification, we turn to the past, back to the roots of the “fault-riddled” pioneers not only for inspiration but to gouge away at latent ideas which have yet to be absorbed into the intellectual property hoarding zeitgeist of modern metal meta. These are ideas deemed yet too niche as options for “skins”, worn to colorize the greying souls beneath the facade. Italian classicist progressive death/thrash metal quartet Miscreance appear as mid-evolution operatives, a nigh historically accurate recreation of the logical pathway from elite mid-to-late 80’s thrash metal supremacy unto progressive death metal nascence. In the process of personalizing tics of performance they absorb the emergent, abruptly stabbed-at nature of the greats and merely curve and blur the lineage, admirably contributing to but not misunderstanding the physical, spiritual significance of this rarely mastered artform. It is well-fitting that they’d name their resulting debut full-length ‘Convergence‘ as the alchemical combination served is picturesque in its elementally “in-merger” state, showing ripples and oddly carved surfacing as these ancient worlds connect tectonically in eerily natural harmonization. Are we freed from the machine within, or, is history merely repeating itself quietly in the heads of these youths wishing for a new renaissance that’ll never come?

The unpredictable, blazed ex-thrasher mood swings of Atheist‘s ‘Unquestionable Presence‘, a performative register closer to Van Drunen-era Pestilence up front and the pensive, introspective lurk of Schuldiner-esque run-on rhythm guitars deliver a proto-progressive death/thrash metal abstract within the adept tutelage of these pure thrash metal infused souls whose first life was briefly lived as Atomic Massacre between 2013 and 2018 wherein their style was obssessed with the cruelly cut edge of records like ‘Terrible Certainty‘, or, the evil side of classic thrash indicating an aggressive evolution unto death metal. Their interest had shifted along with the name change, now fostering interest into the crossroads of early progressive death metal breakthroughs served by way of late 80’s technical thrash metal mindset, sparking up hot with the ‘From Awareness to Creation‘ demo tape in 2018.

Miscreance‘s main inspiration on that tape couldn’t have been more clear to any fan of Atheist‘s first couple of records and not -only- in the usual aesthetic sense (virtuosic bassist, thrashing mad riffs) but in their study of the analogous rhythmic phrasing shared between prog-thrash quintessence and what Cynic, R.A.V.A.G.E. and a few Canadian groups had been doing deep underground in the late 80’s. That approach had been modulated some by the time their split with Australians Vile Apparition released in late 2021 wherein we’d get a few gang shouts, slightly more involved rhythms and some key development on the part of bassist Emiliano Zinà whom as been an important anchor for the transmogrification of the entity since 2018 in terms of style and gaining a more sophisticated rhythmic voice. ‘Convergence‘ basically picks up where that material left off, its style similar enough to the point that it’d surprised me that its ~32 minute runtime hadn’t included those 7+ minutes to flesh out its length. Eh, fair enough though since ‘Unquestionable Presence‘ and ‘Piece of Time‘ both clock in at that exact length.

Anyhow, we can look to a handful of records from the mid-to-late 90’s that’d been heavily influenced by the aforementioned classics to figure just exactly where we can place ‘Convergence’ within the classicist prog-death/thrash metal continuum, starting with obscure Czech group Scenery and their similar master of those rhythmic influences on ‘The Drowning Shadow of Mankind‘, less abstract in influence than Pavor‘s debut but more original in motion than Strangulation‘s (Brazil) ’95 record or Violent Dirge‘s second record, both of which liberally plagiarized early Florida prog-death riffs and melodies unto a point of obscurity. From that point we should also consider the feeling of imminent collapse, the momentum of Miscreance‘s occasionally irrational shifts of focus which we find precedence in Infamia‘s (Italy) far more amateur debut circa ’94, while we likewise give due credit to the melodic voice and peaking rhythmic statements from ‘Convergence‘ which read as interrogative in the same way Supuration‘s ‘The Cube‘ was minus the slower, doomed intrigue. Right, so, if you’re not a progressive death metal nerd the gist of this is that there is precedence for this sort of experience, especially as news spread over the world that both Atheist and Cynic had disbanded just as quickly as their records truly hit shelves en masse. This record feels equally face value in some respects, taking an idea and running with it but also following a well-known spirit animal. Reading between the lines you’ll notice I’m not picking at any old thrash scabs in musing over this record and solely because I believe these folks’ intent leans into the elevation of technical/progressive thrash metal rhythmic innovation within the context of early death metal.

For all of the blah-blah I’ll throw at you here it’ll be obvious enough where these guys are coming from before the first song is done flooring you, at least if you are a fan of this rare ideation of progressive death and technical thrash metal. “Flame of Consciousness” is not only set to impress in terms of its involved, fast-wheeling performances but by way of its brilliantly set sound design wherein the production reads with a very specific ideal in mind yet gives the modern metal ear plenty of dynamic thrash thunder to fill their head with. Though most every song on ‘Convergence‘ lands around ~4-5 minutes long they hit as if half as long, crammed with detail writ as if the last riff had fallen away behind ’em while running and the next’d better be just as good. With just over a half hour to work with and detail at a dizzying high it goes without saying that each piece is crucial to the success of the full listen here but, I’ll generally focus on the pieces which present mastery and possibility in tandem such as debut single “Incubo” which should give the keen ear a nod of ‘Individual Thought Patterns‘-era phrasal lilt in terms of its riffcraft. Though this very much steeps Miscreance‘s modus within a specific era and sound it is arguably the only song on the record with that vibe and they’ve still plenty of thrash anthem in ’em (see: “No Empathy”) alongside deeper cut influences on the way.

The Garden” is easily my favorite song of the lot in terms of its riffcraft, which leans more towards the meandering alien faction of early Obliveon, always a huge spike through my brain no matter how subtle the hit. For my own taste this tends to be the sublime pocket where Miscreance are at their best, wandering off into space, and largely because these moments create some direct contrast to, and accompaniment with, their shoulder-hiking kinetically charged ‘Unquestionable Presence‘-esque turn-on-a-dime thrash danced rants otherwise… such as that of “Alchemy”, which follows directly after and offers the peak of the record in pairing with “The Garden”. The flow of the full listen whips back around without a hitch or hindrance, almost to the point of it reading as unchallenging if not for such abrupt and decisively thrashed performances driving the ship onwards at all times.

Though I’ve got a shelf or two full of records in this style ‘Convergence‘ had no trouble making its case within just one listen and continues to preach its spectacularly authentic and entertaining classicist prog-death rub dozens of spins later. There’ll be no dodging the fact that this is my shit, the one place I’m happy to get stuck in terms of where decades of interest in death and thrash metal are represented with this type of elite standards, but I understand the fair enough criticism that what Miscreance are doing here is cumulative and authentic in its command of the old ways but arguably not entirely original. I’ll be too busy enjoying the hell out of this stellarly debut to give a single fuck about that, though, and we can chalk that up to these folks nailing it for the ‘old school’ attuned ear. A very high recommendation.

Very high recommendation. (90/100)

Rating: 9 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Unspeakable Axe Records,
Desert Wastelands Productions,
Danex Records
RELEASE DATE:September 19th, 2022

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