Friday, December 23, 2016

Bandcamp Picks - 2016 Stocking Stuffer Edition

[All albums listed are available as name your price downloads]

Overlooked members of the British death/grind scene, Brighton's Necrosanct were ostensibly lost in the early 90's death metal glut. Which is a shame; Incarnate and Desolate (their second and third albums, originally released by Black Mark in '92 and 93, respectively) combine the chaos of peers like Bolt Thrower with the jackhammer intensity of South American death/thrash in a way that foreshadows the "war metal" to come. In many ways, a band that was both behind and ahead of the times.

DoC friends eyeswithoutaface were one of this blog's first ever Bandcamp Picks, and their phenomenal Warguts album almost single-handedly resuscitating my faith in heavy industrial music. Their last release, a split with fellow Toronto residents IRN, showcases their ability to fuse slab-heavy riffs with unsettling noise and electronica. All their releases are available on their bandcamp page as "name your price" downloads.

Similarly, Second Grave are a band I've been plugging in this space for years. Their debut album, Blacken the Sky, is unfortunately also their swansong; but showcases their knack for memorable hooks, in a way that recalls both the Obsessed and Soundgarden.

Montreal's Dopethrone have had a busy year, following up last year's Hochelaga album with a split with Fister and the three song EP 1312. One of the best up and coming sludge bands, they keep the riffs catchy even as their drug-laden subject matter gets increasingly bleak. As of this writing, everything on their bandcamp page is available as a "name your price" download.

Some of the most intriguing metal I've heard in the past few years has come out of Iceland, and arguably none more impressive than Rekjavik's Naðra. They can blast with the best of black metal's Scandinavian second wave, but pull in folk melodies, atmospheric interludes, and full-on horns-in-the-air hesherdom. As "Icelandic black metal" becomes its own descriptor, there's no better place to start exploring the scene than here.

I don't know much about Ohio's Vit, aside from the two albums they have on their Bandcamp page. Banjos and violins give their Dry Season album an atmosphere and sonic texture quite unlike most sludge releases. Their debut, recently remastered, also makes good use of traditional folk sections, though the haphazard drumming somewhat dulls the impact. Both albums are available as "name your price" downloads.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Bandcamp Picks - Vader, Kratornas, Escarnium, Id

It's normal for aging heshers to get nostalgic for their roots; Vader, nearing 3 decades (!) of death metal service, ease off the pedal on their 11th thus allowing more of their early influences to shine through. The Empire contains plenty of nods to Celtic Frost, Judas Priest, and early Metallica to go along with the band's usual  distillation of Slayer and Morbid Angel. An album for both tapping toes and banging heads. [$6]

Anyone with a fondness for the death/thrash hybridization that Vader pioneered could do worse than checking out Kratornas. Devoured by Damnation sees the Filipino (via Canada) duo playing black metal with grindcore relentlessness, but also putting a surprising amount of thought into their arrangements. Fans of Impiety and Deiphago will find a lot to love here. [$5]

Brazil's Escarnium made a name for themselves with a lo-fi and bludgeoning approach that set them apart from most their countrymen. Interitus is a major upgrade from their previous releases in terms of production, allowing the band's riffs to take center stage and proving that beneath the filth was a knack for hooks and atmosphere. Not what you'd expect from Brazilian death metal, but taking no prisoners while giving no fucks nonetheless. [$8]

Austin's Id sure know how to push this blog's buttons. Tiniebias, their third release overall, is equal parts technical and brutal, with the production leaving plenty of rough edges on the razor sharp performances. Blast-driven and riff-heavy, this is the perfect distillation of American death metal. [$4.44]

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Bandcamp Picks - Setentia, Burial in the Sky, Virvum, Mausoleum

In the wake of Ulcerate's success, more bands from New Zealand are gaining traction worldwide; witness Auckland's Setentia, who were snapped up by Blood Music Records earlier this year. Darkness Transcend is more straight-forward than anything their more famous countrmen are known for,  but shares a similar knack for tricky riffing, atmospheric interludes and dizzying drumwork. Things are definitely heating up "south of heaven". The album is available as a "name your price" download.

Can death metal be both brutal and uplifting? Pennsylvania's Burial in the Sky make a strong case that it can. Their debut full-length Persistence of Thought is as cerebral as anything to come out of the tech/death hemisphere while avoiding the djenty pitfalls that plague the genre. A thoroughly enjoyable and thoroughly modern death metal album. [$6]

Zurich's Virvum play death metal as clean and precise as a Swiss watch. Illuminance divides its time between hyperspeed blasts, proggy leads, and spacey keyboards, arriving at a point that's almost "post-death". If you ever wanted a mash-up between Decrepit Birth and Explosions in the Sky, this will probably hit your sweet spot. [$9]

I haven't been able to dig up much info about Leeds band Mausoleum - except that they're one of a dozen metal bands to share that name. Which is unfortunate, because their self-titled debut EP is definitely not run of the mill,  throwing Pantera-esque grooves and keyboards into their death/thrash assault - impeccably produced and flawlessly executed. Hopefully they'll put as much thought into a name-change as they do their music. The EP is available as a "name your price" download.