Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Bandcamp Picks: A Forest of Stars, Terra, Downfall of Nur, Taake

Send home the maid-of-all-work and break out the laudanum, A Forest Of Stars return with their fourth album Beware The Sword You Cannot See. The number of seemingly disparate elements in play here is staggering: Violins and female vocals rub shoulders with blastbeats and tremolo picking; elsewhere, psychedelic guitars and neo-folk sprechstimme wash over Eighties goth keyboards. It's a lot to take on in just one sitting; luckily, the album comes pre-divided into two sections, with the second half of the album being the six-part "Pawn on the Universal Chessboard". This is as black as artisanal coffee and just as twee. [$6.99]

If the descriptor "British black metal" makes you think of tinkly keyboards, costume parties, and over-exuberant chipmunk squeaking, newcomers Terra throw all those preconceptions out the window. Their Untitled debut is pure atmospheric black metal, with only a sparing use of [heavily reverbed] vocals, strongly reminiscent of Wolves In The Throne Room at their prime. A commendable debut. [£5]

Argentinian folk/black metal "proyect" Downfall of Nur occupies both the raw and epic spheres of black metal; with no post-rock influence and a guitar tone as frigid as anything that came out of Oslo during the second wave, Umbras de Barbagia plays like a rawer, less NPR-friendly Agalloch. Or maybe this is what "tote bag metal" sounds like in Argentina. [€4]

Taake turned a lot of heads with their last album, pulling out the banjos like a bunch of black metal rednecks (photos of them playing with swastikas and/or their junk showing certainly helped solidify that impression). There are no banjos on Stridens Hus, but there is a classic metal influence that pops up occasionally. Besides that, it's business as usual for Taake: Frostbitten riffs and blastbeats driving songs built for memorability. Beneath the controversy and coloured contacts may be the last great Norwegian black metal band. [$7.50]