Thursday, February 2, 2023

Bandcamp Friday Picks [Feb 2023]

Today is the first Bandcamp Friday of 2023 - meaning the streaming company is waiving its cut of all purchases made through the platform. To celebrate the occasion, here are some recent and upcoming releases of note that were sent my way, which I present to you with only a modicum of pontificating.

There are no surprises on the sophomore album of Siege Of Power (except perhaps the unintentional irony of its title). On This Is Tomorrow, these (mostly) Dutch death metal veterans issue one mid-paced retro banger after another, accompanied by the phlegmy yowls of Autopsy's Chris Reifert.

Arnaut Pavle is part of the Fallen Empire/Mystískaos constellation that gave the world so much darkness (and free Bandcamp downloads). The Finnish project's second album Transylvanian Glare recreates the basement recording aesthetic of classic black metal demos by summoning the accumulated hisses of a thousand traded tapes. Hail Sssssssssssatan. [Name your price.]

USBM isn't just forests, shoegazing, or revivalism - on their debut album Catharsis, Texans High Fells stick to a modern metal aesthetic without losing any of the nihilism or misanthropy that characterized black metal since the first stave church went up in smoke.

London-based outfit Mutagenic Host may be going places, but aren't in a hurry to do so. The Genotoxic Demo is their first release, and it splits the diff between slamming chord progressions and the kind of mid-paced death metal that UKDM is known for.

The first release by Santa Fe's Street Tombs is a testament to the unending influence of the late Chuck Schuldiner, and the other like-minded pioneers of the mid-Eighties death metal underground. The six (sacrificial) cuts that comprise Reclusive Decay are a throwback to the genre's embryonic stage, before fretless basses, guitar harmonies, and slam parts partitioned it into subgenres, and when all you needed to be one of the fastest bands in the world was a second kick drum.

Italian quartet Maze Of Sothoth know that "classic" and "technical" aren't mutually exclusive propositions. Extirpated Light is their second album, and it's a brutal and precise blastfest that would be equally at home in the death metal meccas of Tampa, Warsaw, and Rio Grande do Sul.

Germany's Bloodjob are partial to the simplicity of early Nineties death metal. Their latest EP Metastasis combines guttural vocals and catchy hooks with the type of speedy death/thrash that Europe has reliably churned out for decades.

All Out War has had a foot in both the metal and hardcore worlds for their entire career, but their eighth album may finally see them joining one side permanently. Celestial Rot sees the band experimenting with tremolo riffs, blastbeats and creeping Morbid Angel sections while maintaining the unvarnished simplicity of hardcore punk.

After teasing its release for the past few years, Endorphins Lost has finally released their third full-length album. Night People is what you'd expect from the Seattle band: Short bursts of irate power violence, rooted in punk's simplicity but not adverse to incorporating groove and blastbeats.

Portland's Tithe found their purpose by mining the overlap between black, death, and grindcore. Speed and chaos define Inverse Rapture, which shows that the band has upped its blasting game considerably since their 2017 debut.

Even by grindcore's typically narrow field of vision, Boston's Horrible Earth are laser-focused. Barring the occasional "jazz odyssey" (h/t: Exit-13), Weakened By Civilization embraces the simple pleasures making of short and fast songs, as well as movie samples and a general disdain for mankind.

From the medical photo collage that serves as its album cover, to the resolutely lo-fi production, there's no mistaking where Japanese grinders FesterDecay find their inspiration. Reality Rotten To The Core is unabashed in its reverence for the early Carcass albums, reliving the era when those legends were a trio of crusty heshers making filthy, unpalatable music for a small group of dirtbags.

Cerbère hail from Paris, but speak the international language of sludge. Their debut ful-length Cendre imbues the band's extended doom jams with a guitar tone gnarly enough for any power violence band, before disintegrating into layers of harsh noise. This isn't the work of mellow stoners - the only trip you'll go on is to the emergency room. [Name your price.]

Super Pink Moon is a solo project from Somali Yacht Club frontman Ihor Pryshliak (and I assure you those are all real things, and not word salad typed as a result of a stroke). The ghost of My Bloody Valentine hangs heavily over Iron Rain, which contemporizes its shoegazing with unorthodox time signatures and proggy weirdness.

Holy Water is the solo project of Jasper den Hartigh, formerly the guitarist and vocalist for New Orleans-based Heat Dust. The self-titled debut runs its shoegaze and post-punk influences through a conveyor belt of oppressive chords, demonstrating that gloom can be expressed with a surprisingly wide palette.