Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Bandcamp Picks - 2019 Stocking Stuffer Edition

Here's a run down of the best free metal albums on Bandcamp that were released this year, to ensure that you have the blackest of Xmases. All releases were available as "name your price" downloads at the time of posting.

Boston's Astronoid are a bright light in the progressive metal scene. As befits their name, their eponymous second album is a spacey, ethereal album that combines pop melodies and shoegazing guitars with thrashing drums and headbanging riffs. For that Devin Townsend fan on your X-mas shopping list.

Formerly based in Oakland, Body Void are one of the more impressive sludge bands to emerge in the last few years. The band's latest EP You Will Know the Fear You Forced Upon Us marries their typically slow and abrasive songs with polemics against the alt-right, leaving the listener with the band's angriest and most immediate release yet.

[Read my interview with Body Void here.]

If it wasn't enough that they created one of the most unique black metal albums in recent years, Wormlust has also taken it upon themselves to carry on the important work of unearthing and releasing other avantgarde black metal acts through their Mystískaos label. Kosmískur hryllingur, a collaboration album with fellow Icelandic standouts Skáphe, is a nightmarish vision of psychedelic black metal that cares as little for the self-limiting edicts of the second as it does for the listener's enjoyment.

A side project of Vincent Houde (of Canadian doom/drug aficionados Dopethrone), Niggght allows the singer/guitarist to let all his dirtbag affinities out. The four song debut Violent Delicacy revels in its lewdness, employing synths, twanging guitars, and Houde's throaty murmur to maximum sleazy effect. The EP even has a Christmas-themed song in "Rudolph", in case you're putting together a holiday playlist.

There's little to be found online abut Mylingar, except that the Swedish project has only been around for a few years and already has a few releases to its name. Feral and unrelenting, Döda Själar shows that whoever is behind the band has a firm grasp on dissonant death metal, and probably owns a Mitochondrion album (or three).

The prolific Negativa are part of a burgeoning (if overlooked) Spanish black metal scene. 03 is the duo's bluntly titled third full-length album, which sees them refining rather than expanding their style of atmospheric black metal. It's part of a release history that includes their newly-remastered debut, which is also available on Bandcamp for free.

Emerging, roach-like, from the ashes of its former label Fallen Empire, Blattaria contnues to be one of the most unique and unpredictable one-man bands out there. Unsettling to its core, Life Is A Disease is the perfect blend of death/grind aggression and avantgarde sensibilities.

I can't think of anyone more committed to the NYP life than Swiss band Coilguns - who run an entire label of free releases. The band's latest album Watchwinders is a fantastic example of European post-hardcore, recalling the under-rated Swedish band Breach with its driving rhythms and abrasive riffs.

[Read my interview with Coilguns here.]

At the beginning of the year, Silber Media released a drone song a day for what was planned as a month-long series (and which eventually stretched into nearly three times that). Droneuary 2019 compiles the entire series, featuring the contributions of 80 ambient, noise, and experimental artists who are largely unknown, but who each bring their own distinct take. Happy holi-daze.

Speaking of drone, Nadja has recently made a number of releases on their Bandcamp page available for free. Of most interest to readers of this blog will be the compilation album Numbed, which ends with the duo's take on Godflesh's sublime masterpiece, "Go Spread Your Wings". There's no improving on perfection, but it's a fascinating interpretation nonetheless.

[Listen to my interview with Nadja's Aidan Baker here. And if you're interested in investigating Nadja further - or just want to support one of the best doom/drone bands around - they're offering a 20% off downloads with the promo code drownoutxmas for the next week.]

Started as a high school project, before they beame break-out stars in the Balkans who played gigs all over the world, Croatia's Punčke have had a career most bands would envy. Vidimo se, ostensibly their final release, sends the band off with one last round of their idiosyncratic blend of indie rock and alt metal. Saying goodbye shouldn't be this fun.

[Listen to my 2018 interview with Punčke here.]