Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Bandcamp Picks - 2015 Stocking Stuffer Edition

The holiday season is upon us; chances are, you're worn out from last minute shopping, grating relatives, and transit fiascos. Never fear, your friends at DoC are here to lift your mood. Pour yourself a stiff one and fortify yourself with these free downloads of the heaviest of heavy metals...

Few bands have affected me in recent months like the mysterious Abyssal. Profound Lore released their headturning Antikatastaseis a few months back, but on the band's own Bandcamp their first two albums are up for free. It's clear that from the very beginning, whoever is behind Abyssal had a unique vision of death/black metal, combining the avant sensibilities of Portal and Ulcerate with his (or her) own bleak, at times shoegazing aesthetic. As this band continues to soar, do yourself a favour by seeking out their launching point.

The second of three bands with some variation on "abyss" in their name that appeared in the blog this year (Peter Tägtgren's lawyer should make some calls), Abyssal Ascendant released an album that fans of brutal but thoughtful metal will love. On the surface a straight-forward death metal album in the vein of Vader (not that there's anything wrong with that), this French band includes a lots of technical flourishes to keep things interesting, as well as tying the whole thing to HP Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.

Bay Area band Anopheli found a neat way to make heavy crust interesting (and not just Tragedy-inspired): By adding strings to the mix and putting them at the forefront of their sound. The use of a cello adds surprising depth to the band's sound, making it bleaker and more forlorn. Martyrdöd wishes they thought of this. The band has two releases on their Bandcamp page, both worth exploring. [And maybe check out Dead To A Dying World while you're at it.]

Cloud Rat were one of this blog's earliest Bandcamp plugs - indeed, discovering their entire discography through Bandcamp led indirectly to the creation of this column. Qliphoth, their latest album, sees them further diversifying their crusty grindcore sound, engaging the listener with sudden shifts in tempo and mood. And the rest of their discography is still available for free, waiting for you to discover it.

Though it was released last year, I only discovered a few months ago that Fuck Yoga Records had compiled and re-released the two demos by Depressor - a band I know little about, but who I'm beginning to become weirdly obsessed with. More than Pitchshifter, Scorn, or any of the other bands that tried to carve out an existence in Godflesh's shadow, Depressor captured the oppressive spirit of Streetcleaner so perfectly that you'd swear songs like "Human Scum" and "Chunks" were Godflesh B-sides. Far clearer than the previous versions available (no doubt ripped from some Nth generation cassette dub), Filth/Grace presents these songs in their heaviest form. Add this to my list of the best industrial/metal albums ever.

"We play death metal" says Pittsburgh's Irukandji, and to that I can only add "incredibly well." Over the three EPs on their Bandcamp page, they perform the type of death metal nearest and dearest to my heart - blastbeat driven, finger-cramping, flawlessly executed. The band have said they're going on hiatus; I hope it doesn't last too long. We need more bands like this.

One of the more interesting doom/drone bands I've heard in recent years is Dying Sun; though 2015 didn't see a follow-up to their phenomenal (and aptly named) Transcendant album, Dying Sun bassist/vocalist Dan launched his other project Lyrids. Travelling an X/Y axis of atmosphere and oppressive doom, The Astronaut is as heavy and ominous as a falling meteor.

Earlier this year, Indonesian label Rikzan Records released Sarjan Hassan's discography on cassette. My feelings about cassette releases are no secret, but Rikzan get a pass for also making the release available on Bandcamp. 30 songs of no-frills crossover, this is everything you need to get on board with one of South East Asia's most respected bands.

In a year filled with stellar and confounding progressive metal albums, Michigan's Satyrasis hit early and hit hard with ...Of The Dead, a chimaeric work that combined progressive death metal, technical thrash and even the occasional crossover moment, never content to stay in one place for too long.

Lisbon's Tod Huetet Uebel were already a recent Bandcamp pick, but this album is so strong I don't feel bad plugging it twice in the same month. Malicia strips black metal down to its core elements, and unleashes it with a death metal fury that would strip flesh from bone.