Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Bandcamp Picks - 2018 Stocking Stuffer Edition

The link between one-man bands and "name your price" albums is probably obvious (no rehearsal spaces or studio time to pay for, therefore fewer costs to recoup), and perhaps of interest to me alone. But I still feel the need to point out how antisocial misanthropes working in their bedrooms are responsible for spreading so much joy.

Originally released back in 2013, a split between Portland's Mare Cognitum and Greek project Spectral Lore took atmospheric black metal to new heights. Remastered for the 2018 re-release, the cosmic themed, nearly hour-long collaboration between two solo projects re-imagines black metal as space rock, as if Hawkwind and Wolves in the Throne Room were the most natural pairing in the world.

Slavehouse brought black metal back to its punky proto-thrash roots with their latest affront on good taste. The bondage themed Taste In Pain is like Wolverine Blues for basement-dwelling black metal CHUDs.

Det eviga leendet maintains a raw intensity throughout its debut album, even as the Swedish black metal project gets increasingly atmospheric and experimental. At times Lenience finds common ground with the austere industrial of Godflesh and Killing Joke by mixing mechanical drumming with shoegazing guitars.

The mysterious individuals behind Arkhtinn released not one but two new full-lengths this year. Each follows a familiar pattern, pairing an ambient track with one that takes atmospheric black metal to its full blasting apotheosis.

Formed by Tchornobog's Markov Soroka, Krukh sees the prolific multi-instrumentalist curtailing his love for epic compositions, turning in an album that stays true to the minimalist principles of black metal's second wave while allowing for experimental flourishes that separates this project from the hordes of Darkthrone plagiarists.

Adelaide's Convulsing recalls Ulcerate and Gorguts with their second album, a churning, dissonant affair which demonstrates that death metal can be multi-faceted and nuanced without losing its integral brutality.

Despite rumours (spurious! erroneous!) that they were breaking up, DoC faves Cloud Rat released not one but two albums compiling their most recent splits EPs, each showcasing their amorphous take on grindcore and power violence. A great primer on a band that is on the precipice of either greatness or self-implosion.

If you're still grieving over the (most recent, most likely permanent) demise of the Swans, Portland's Megaton Leviathan will prove an effective salve. Mage channels the imperiousness of classic Swans through its monolithic riffing, restrained pace, and the Gira/Jarboe-esque dynamic of the band's three vocalists.

Similarly, anyone lamenting the end of Black Boned Angel should direct themselves to Glasgow's Ommadon, who put on a doom drone master class that makes the air you breathe feel heavier by the minute.

It's been a busy year for Louisiana outfit Thou. In the lead-up to releasing their fifth full-length Magus, the band issued three EPs that demonstrated how their de-tuned sludge metal was built on a foundation of Seattle grunge, putting Soundgarden and Alice in Chains alongside The Obsessed and Sleep as forefathers of ultra-heavy doom.