Sunday, December 24, 2017

Bandcamp Picks - 2017 Stocking Stuffer Edition

[All releases were listed as free or "name your price" downloads at the time of writing. That can change, so it's best to download these ASAP.]

One of the most reliable sources of forward thinking extreme metal is Portland-based Fallen Empire Records. Among the releases that stuck with me the most this year is the debut full-length from Oklahoma-based Blattaria. Their self-titled album sees them combining the fury of death, black, and grind with the atonal proclivities of bands like Zeni Geva and Today is the Day. Try to imagine Gorguts as produced by Steve Albini and you're close.

Formed by members of Chaos Moon, Entheogen similarly defy easy categorization. Akin to Deathspell Omega and Mitochondrion, Without Veil, Nor Self is rooted in death and black metal, but warps the genres into something uglier and more discomfiting. It's rarely lacking for unbridled speed, but the unconventional song structures and dissonant riffs mark this as something beyond the ordinary.

Oakland-based Transylvanian Tapes has one of the most interesting and eclectic rosters of any label. Case in point: psychedelic doom trio Cosmic Reef Temple, whose debut album Age of the Spaceborn is an instrumental journey through space and surf rock alike, combining saxophones and keyboards with heaving riffs in ways neither Hawkwind nor Dick Dale could have imagined. Metal's cool squids are keeping it R'lyeh.

LVTHN have been releasing albums for free and under the radar for some years now, but to these ears they're one of the best bands Belgium has ever produced. The Spider Goddess features two songs that combine for a 25 minute running time, employing repetition to turn their vicious black metal into something hypnotic and transcendent. Like a black widow weaving its web, their work is both beautiful and lethal.

Lisbon's Tod Huetet Uebel have been a reliable source of both total fucking necro and free downloads. Their latest EP. N.A.D.A. sees the duo stretching their unhinged assault, culminating with a punishing 17 minute track that tests the limits of both mechanized black metal and human vocal chords.

Part of Reykjavik's exploding and increasingly celebrated black metal scene (and with members drawn from luminaries Svartidaudi and Worrmlust), Sinmara should be on every hesher's watch list. On the three song EP Within the Weaves of Infinity, the emphasis is on atmosphere rather than speed, employing folky melodies and underscoring what separates Icelandic black metal from its Scandinavian cousins.

Much like Impaled and Exhumed, San Francisco death grinders Cartilage make no bones about their influences. Dialect of the Dead is pure unabashed Carcass worship, a carneous cacophony of twisted riffs and goriffic wordplay. A band that's not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and the rest of their clothing too.

The past 12 months saw some stellar releases by death metal veterans like Cannibal Corpse and Immolation, but Melbourne's Vile Apparition show the upcoming generation are no slouches either. Their Atrocious Captivity demo is a fantastically depraved Cryptopsy-styled assault, full of unexpected time changes, and never less than completely brutal.

If getting stoned and watching "satanic panic" clips in Electric Wizard's rehearsal room sounds appealing, then enigmatic Canadians Strange Broue deserve a few minutes of your time. Seance - The Satanic Sounds of Strange Broue dresses up the bleak, hypnotic doom of early Wizard with enough psychedelic interludes and news samples to make you feel like you're channel surfing through an LSD trip. Electric kool aid acid death. [Also, bonus points for sharing a name with one of the greatest and most under-rated comedies ever.]

I've been a fan of Philadelphia's Rosetta for some time, and their latest album may be their most ambitious. Utopioid is a concept album separated into movements, utilizing the bands atmospheric post-metal to paint a world only slightly more dystopian and somnambulant than our own. Additionally, the band has embraced the "name your price" payment model in a laudable way - which you can hear them expound on in the next DoC podcast. Hint hint.

Newly signed to Neurot records, Sao Paolo's Deafkids are a genre unto themselves. Configuração do Lamento is a roided out version of angular Albini rock, layering dancefloor-ready rhythms with a guitar tone so jagged and abrasive it puts early Ministry to shame.

Apparently Vimana's four song debut had been floating around the internet for a while before Willowtip snapped the band up. With a line-up that includes former Cephalic Carnage fretburner Zac Joe, The Collapse displays a similar eclecticism as his previous band, but reins in a lot of their ADD-addled song structures.

This year saw DoC friends Crutches returning with their third full-length album. Såld is a must have for fans of Swedish crust punk, taking the sound that launched a thousand d-beats and combining it with a seething HM-2 powered guitar tone. Righteous disaccord.

Over in Gothenberg, fellow crusties Myteri are tweaking the classic Swedish hardcore sound. Ruiner joins Martyrdod and Tragedy in injecting their raging crust with haunting melodies and doomy interludes, resulting in songs as heart wrenching as they are fist pumping, and an album that's anything but monotonous.

This blog has been banging the drum for Corrupt Moral Altar for years now, and for good reason - few bands make power violence as heavy and enjoyable as this UK crew. Eunoia integrates influences as disparate as post rock and death n roll to craft their most mature and varied release to date. I'm baffled as to why Season of Mist would let these guys off their roster - but their loss is your gain.

The work of Virginia based solo artist Josh Thorne, Thorne is an intriguing curiosity - a black metal-influenced synth pop project. As alluded to by its title, 218 draws from Jon Nodtveidt's life and work, transposing Dissection's cold aura into bleak keyboard melodies. The results are not at all dissimilar from Ulver's recent darkwave excursions. Sneak this on during an office holiday party and watch the feathers fall.