Nervous Language, Or: A Review Of Blank Spell’s Miasma LP (+ Debut Stream)

Sometimes you know that an LP will be perfect before even hearing a single second of it. Sure it’s rare (at least in my case), but when I heard that Philadelphia’s dark punk anti-heroes Blank Spell were going to be releasing an LP, I knew I was going to be knocked on my ass. If I remember correctly, that bombshell was dropped on me in the tail end of 2015, and I have been waiting impatiently since then; and I can say with certainty that the wait was well fucking worth it.

For the uninitiated, Blank Spell have been conjuring up some of the most unpredictable, spooky, and uncharacteristically catchy hardcore punk since 2014 — their first tape is a killer, and they’ve only gotten better with time; the subsequent 7” in 2015 is even more haunting, and the second tape in 2016 is indelible and easily one of my favorite hardcore punk tapes to come out in the past 5 years. The three-piece is comprised of members from Cape Of Bats, Haldol, S-21, Wild At Heart, Low Charge, The Drip, Devil Master, and many others (seriously, they’re all ridiculously prolific musicians), which doesn’t necessarily have a bearing on a band’s sound, but with Blank Spell it’s pretty telling that the members also are/have been in some pretty powerful dark and ferocious bands.

Photo By Tiff Cheng

If I had to describe them in brief, they sound like Italian maniac hardcore punk (e.g. Bedboys, Declino) with guitar work inspired by over-chorused deathrock (e.g. Christian Death, Altar De Fey); however, this does not fully do them justice. The inordinate amount of fantastic (phantasmic) riffs they dish out is impressive as it is, but the irregular structures and abrupt shifts in tempo make them a truly thrilling, chilling band to behold.

Artwork By Cassidy M

Miasma is Blank Spell’s first 12”, but you wouldn’t be able to tell if you just found it without knowing anything about them. Sure, they’ve been around for 3 years as a band (and in others for many more), but their mastery sounds far beyond even that. They’ve got two things which most of their peers lack: they have a vast knowledge of punk and goth, and they’re true weirdos — you can’t force that shit, either you have it or you don’t; and they expertly tap these sources to cast spells as malefic as they are enchanting.

Each offering on Miasma stands out as its own fantastic entity, while at the same time works in unison with the others to form a whole more horrid than each could be on its own. Every second oozes evil and despair; every note, every progression, every word drips rancorous venom and spurts forth overwhelming trepidation. Miasma is both a portent of fears you have yet to realize and a portal into the world of nightmares, which is navigated treacherously, over tortuous pathways through the catacombs of bad dreams you’ve tried to forget.

Photo By Kevin Spaghetti

Blank Spell is that which waits, shrouded in shadows at the bottom of the stairs; the eyes watching you from the paintings lining dimly lit corridors; the voices calling from beneath your floorboards; the faint, distant weeping which grows louder the more you try to shut it out — they are what goes bump in the night…

Do you dare to bump back?

Blank Spell will be touring this summer, which grants you the opportunity to see them…if you dare…….

7/13 – Philadelphia^

7/14 – Pittsburgh^

7/15 – Cleveland

7/16 – Detroit

7/17 – Chicago

7/18 – Minneapolis

7/19 – Iowa City

7/20 – Omaha

7/21 – Kansas City

7/22 – Oklahoma City

7/23 – Alburquerque

7/24 – Grand Canyon

7/25 – Phoenix

7/26 – Las Vegas

7/27 – Tijuana*

7/28 – San Diego*

7/29 – Los Angles*

7/30 – San Francisco*

7/31 – Oakland*

8/1 – Santa Rosa*

8/2 -Eureka*

8/3 – Portland*

8/4 – Seattle*

8/5 – Olympia*~

8/6 – Boise~

8/7 – Salt Lake City~

8/8 – Denver~

8/9 – Wichita~

8/10 – Dallas~

8/11 – Austin~

8/12 – San Antonio~

8/13 – Houston~

8/14 – Hattiesburg~

8/15 – Birmingham~

8/16 – Atlanta~

8/17 – Asheville~

8/18 – Greensboro~

8/19 – Richmond~

8/20 – Washington DC~

 

^with Patsy

*with Riña and Anti Sex

~with Haldol

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The Author

Joey

Joey

Joey is from the cultural black hole known as Wilmington, DE. Despite this, having access to the internet allowed him to get into punk. Years later, and much to his mother's dismay, he's still all about it. He even writes about it for no other reason than the joy of showing people music. When he's not doing punk stuff, he's probably plotting the downfall of capitalism or watching cartoons.