Miseration - Black Miracles And Dark Wonders

It took ten long years but fans finally have it: Sweden’s Miseration’s fourth full length album. The group is pretty much headed by Solution .45 members Christian Alvestam on vocals and Jani Stefanovic who does everything else plus vocals. Basically for a time this project was the ‘heavy answer’ to Scary Symmetry and Solution .45, both melo death projects that Alvestam headed, and a lot of people were upset when he left Scary Symmetry so Miseration has pretty much been the answer to what Scar Symmetry would have sounded like had he stayed on a less melodic level. 

While Solution .45 hasn’t seen much activity both members have been busy with other projects here and there, but when fans heard they were getting a new Miseration album earlier this year, it was pretty much like hearing one was going to get a new Tool album. The real question is how much the project has evolved in those 10 years since the release of “Tragedy Has Spoken,” and the result couldn’t be better. While the Solution .45 elements are still very present here in the music, one could say that “Black Miracles And Dark Wonders” has pushed Miseration a little more back into the melo death/ symphonic death realm rather than be the full force death metal album it has sounded in the past, but the result couldn’t be better.

For those who were wondering how Scary Symmetry would sound without the heavy sci fi feel and keyboards, this album pretty much sums it up. The album is darker and more atmospheric, but still heavy with a few changes. Alvestam’s vocals are still strong as ever with his roars, and thanks to the production values don’t bury Stefanovic’s either, so when they two are layered on a track such as ‘Kingdoms Turned To Sand’ it sounds more menacing and dynamic. One things listeners will notice as the music has slowed down a bit, which might be a good or bad thing. There are the heavy hitters like ‘The Seal Of The Eight-Pointed Star’ backed by symphonics, but those who really enjoyed Miseration’s 2nd album will find this right up their alley despite the added softness. But then we get into a track like ‘Reign of Hate’ which sounds just like Scary Symmetry or Solution .45- harsh vocals, then Alvestam’s clean ones which also sound top notch, and then back to the harsh. While this might be a deterrent for some as a lot of people turned to Miseration due to its pure heaviness, the added cleans do help bring more variety to the music, even though it starts to make the album feel like it should be a Solution .45 track. However, while Solution .45 tends to feel like a slow to mid paced project, Miseration stays on the fast to mid paced, especially in the drumming department. Just listening to them blast away on ‘Desecrate, Dominate, and Eradicate’ shows that Miseration has not lost their steam. Stefanovic’ songwriting and instrumentation has only gotten better with the dynamics of the album by adding in the new elements without sacrificing the core of Miseration’s sound.

One starts to see a bit of a shift in Miseration’s sound and pace with ‘Enuma Elish.’ Much slower and thunderous than the other tracks (especially with the drums), it is a bit stop and go but like the opening tracks forsakes a lot of the Solution .45 elements for just more pure death metal fun. ‘Fed by Fire…’ has great atmosphere and more of the Solution .45 feel but also a lot of lull time and filler moments that makes the music more dramatic but might turn a lot of fans off with the much slower pace rather than just going all out like a full force track. ‘Shah’ follows suite with the long slow intro building pace but the riffs just hit full on when they do and refuse to let up. Very little breathing room with this track as it just hammers non-stop in traditional Miseration fashion. Finally there is the atmospheric opus ‘Connector of the Nine Worlds’ that brings the best elements of Solution. 45 and Miseration together with just grandiose sweeping riffs, great backing choirs, a good mix of harsh and clean vocals, and just strong production that shows the better elements of melodic death metal altogether. Ultimately, Miseration has softened up a little bit, but not in a Bad Wolves way when they changed singers for their last album. If anything the vocals are the highlight of the album from both members. 

A lot of fans might complain this is the new Solution .45 under a different name, and that Pre Human Vaults took all the heaviness from Miseration’s earlier work as their latest EP is relentless, but here with “Black Miracles and Dark Wonders” the music feels more balanced, alive, and headed in the right direction. And even if one doesn’t see another Solution .45 album, it is nice to know that Miseration has now become a new packaged deal that listeners on both ends can appreciate. 

For new fans who have never heard of these guys, there might be a bit of a stark contrast when hearing an album like “The Mirroring Shadow” versus this one, but “Black Miracles…” aged like fine wine and the 10 year gap was certainly worth the wait. Hopefully in the future listeners will not have to wait as long for such a masterpiece.

4.5 / 5 STARS

1. The Seal Of The Eight-Pointed Star
2. Reign Of Hate
3. Desecrate. Dominate, Eradicate
4. Enuma Elish
5. Fed By Fire/ Led By Blood
6. Kingdoms Turned To Sand
7. Shah
8. Connector Of The Nine Worlds