Sunday, June 3, 2012

Bandcamp Picks: Season of Mist

Add Season of Mist to the list of metal labels who are offering their catalogue on Bandcamp.  The French Metal indie forged a reputation for boldly experimental releases by the likes of Mayhem and Arcturus, so it's no surprise that they've embraced technology the bigger labels are still frightened of.

On a recent trip to the island of Langkawi I met a very cool Finnish metalhead named Sami, who gave me a great list of Finnish metal bands to check out.  I'll delve into that more in a later post, but at the top of the list was Ghost Brigade.   Their latest album Until Fear No Longer Defines Us slipped way under the radar of most metal fans, which is a crime; with no shortage of hooks and atmosphere, these guys play prime Euro-gloom somewhere between Katatonia and the very under-rated Cult of Luna.  Highly recommended.

In big news for doom fans, Saint Vitus are back with their first album in 17 years, and their first with Wino singing since 1995's V.  Named after a recreational barbiturate, Lillie: F-65 is one hell of a downer, the mopey lovechild of Johnny Cash and Black Sabbath that kicks up the end times' dust with heavy boots of lead.

Confessor was a band that broke up before I got into extreme metal, and passed me by again when they reunited back in 2005.  Luckily Season of Mist has their Unraveled album up on Bandcamp or I might have missed out on it completely.  Though the album is a few gems short of a crown, I can't get enough of the soulful dirge "Sour Times," which trumps Down at their own game.

That Terrorizer would continue to exist past the death of Jesse Pintado was a little shocking to me; that the resulting album fucking kills is even more shocking.  Hordes of Zombies should excite longtime fans if only for the return of World Downfall alumni David "Pink Flamingos" Vincent and Pete Sandoval, who arguably gives his best drum performance in 20 years.  It's not the most nuanced or forward thinking grindcore album of the year (that would be Napalm, natch); but as a 40 minute exercise in pure, distilled rage, there are few better.

Between 2010's Re-Traced EP and last year's Carbon Based Anatomy, Cynic have a lot of people scratching their heads wondering if Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert have lost it.  Call me crazy, but I love the space-prog direction these guys are heading in, even if Masvidal's heavily processed singing makes him sound like a wailing lovesick robot.  With three instrumentals amongst its six tracks, Carbon Based Anatomy might come across as a little fluffed-up to non-diehards, but Bandcamp lets you buy the essential songs ("Box Up My Bones" and the title track) and skip the rest.

No new band has impressed me as much Nader Sadek, and for good reason: few could hope to match the combined talent of Steve Tucker (ex-Morbid Angel), Blasphemer (Aura Noir and ex-Mayhem), and Flo Mounier (Cryptopsy).  Though their album is more than a year old at this point, I still find it engrossing; any death metal fan who hasn't been submerged in its petroleum depths needs to do so immediately.