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Mi'gauss - Open Season

Mi'gauss arose from Rottrevore's ashes in 1995. Eight years later, they released their first and so far only full-length album Open Season. The band still speaks of death, but in stark contrast to most other death metal bands, they don't speak of gore or Satan. They instead write songs about Native American traditions, more specifically those of the Talaqua Shawnee. This made me wonder if one of the members had Shawnee ancestry, but my investigations yielded no results. If they're still around, I'd love to ask them about that.

The band plays a unique form of melodic death metal that incorporates melodies that are often found in traditional heavy metal. The production is pristine, for all the elements are perfectly balanced and still sound heavy. The drums are played by Chris Allen. His performance is very precise. Some might say that this level of precision diminishes the brutality somewhat, especially during the blast beats, but I don't have a problem with them. It's the mid-paced rhythms where he truly shines, for not only are they pleasing to the ear, but he also throws in bits of flair that make for a more vibrant experience.

Fred Smith plays the bass. He mostly follows the guitars, but his performance gives the rest of the music a greater impact, especially on songs like "T'dequi Monito". Both the vocals and guitars are handled by Barry Mull. His growls aren't as deep as those done by Chris Weber, but they're still performed well and sound great. The guitar is where his true talent lies. He fills up every song with catchy chord progressions, galloping palm-muted riffs, and tremolo riffs that switch between sounding menacing and triumphant. Every riff has a distinct melody woven into it, and it's this melody that gives the music its vitality. The solos contain even more powerful melodies, some of which are a throwback to metal's early days, most notably at the end of "Within the Mist (Blizzard of Fyock)".

Open Season is one of the best melodic death metal albums I've ever heard, one reason being that they don't try to copy the Gothenburg style. Their formula is entirely their own, and it's made even better by the fantastic instrumental work. No one knows what the band is up to now. They haven't released anything major in twenty years, so it's unlikely they'll do so now, but weirder things have happened.