Friday, March 3, 2023

Bandcamp Friday Picks [Mar 2023]

Bandcamp Fridays keep rolling, so here are some recent releases that you should support with some $$$. The platform is waiving its fees for all purchases made today, so now's a good time to hand some independant artists your cash (even the ones that offer their releases as "name your price" downloads).

The return of Scott "Malefic" Conner should make every underground metal fan pay attention, given that his work with Xasthur heralded the era of the black metal solo artist, and inspired thousands of bedroom projects in its wake. But it's hard to know what to make of the lo-fi production, ultra-guttural vocals, and obnoxiously mixed e-drums on his new project MENSTRUAL VAMPIRES. Is this a loving tribute to the grotty death of Mortician and Autopsy? The next phase in the evolution of an artist who never cared about being in sync with the larger metal scene? Or a piss-take on the very idea of death metal with drum machines? Given that Malefic was always about a decade ahead of the rest of us, we won't know until Relapse has signed half a dozen similar "Mortician-core" bands. Either way, this site loves iconoclastic weirdos who give no fucks. [Name your price.]

DoC friends Nucleus are back, this time partnered up with Seattle's Azath on a new split. The new Nucleus song, "Inculcate", warps classic death metal around odd time signatures and unconventional scales, and is a good representation of why the Chicago band is so beloved on this site. On the other side of the split, Azath's "In Reptilian Pathways" is a phenomenally fast and precise follow-up to the band's sterling 2020 debut, and should whet appetites for their sophomore album. [Name Your Price.]

Theophonos is best known as the entity behind Serpent Column, which released several albums as part of the Fallen Empire/Mystískaos family. Nightmare Visions is his first album under his "own" name (though not the name he files taxes with); and while it's mathier and less raw than his other work, it shows a similar love for nestling chaotic hardcore riffs within a blackened death metal framework. [Name your price.]

With a classic grindcore sound and a gleeful take on our post apocalyptic future, Nuclear Holocaust are a necessary reminder of how much of metal and punk's recorded history was created in the shadow of Cold War nihilism. Sailing The Seas Of Nuclear Waste is a crusty and tongue-in-cheek throwback to grindcore's punky early years, and shows that the Polish quartet don't take themselves or the threat of armageddon too seriously - even if it is currently unfolding next door to them.

Bred for Slaughter, on the other hand, are not 'avin' a larf. Their debut EP Here You're Born... Here You Die delivers six tracks of unbridled war metal, replete with skittering solos and vocals that sound like a bear recorded over a bad phone connection. My new favourite band.

Plague Bearer emerged during the early years of Seattle's death and black metal scenes, before the band was put on hold while the members focused on other projects. Summoning Apocalyptic Devastation is their official first album, and features songs that were previously only available on long out-of-print EP's and compilations. Sonically, the band injects classic death and thrash influences into second wave black metal - though the Bathory and Mercyful Fate nods display plenty of love for the first wave as well.

The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed Finland's Qwälen appearing on a DoC "mixtape" a while back. Their second album Syvä hiljaisuus is set to be released soon, and it's a celebration of no-frills, speedy black metal, with a soupçon of Scan-crust thrown in for extra grit.

Germany's Downfall of Gaia have no qualms about disregarding a genre's self-imposed limitations. Silhouettes of Disgust splices atmospheric black metal with post-punk, post-metal, and driving hardcore; the result is a multi-dimensional album that earns appreciation with each subsequent listen.

A funeral doom duo formed from members of the Portuguese black metal band Gaerea, OAK set the bar high for their second album. Glacial in pace as well as timbre, Disintegrate is comprised of a single 45 minute opus that builds to a forlorn crescendo, before starting all over again midway through.

From the South of France, Witchthroat Serpent play classic doom that's tinged with psychedelia. Built on a love of dragging tempos, vintage horror movies, and the Rise Above catalogue (along with, one can only assume, copious amounts of ganja), Trove of Oddities at the Devil's Driveway will take you to the land of Nod, with the occasional ambient part and movie sample to reflect on as you stare blankly into space.

If the neon-drenched title sequences of television shows like GLOW and Black Monday didn't tip you off, the first full-length by Naut is here to remind you that the Eighties will never, ever die. Hunt perfectly captures the post-punk zeitgeist, with dancey rhythms and synths that hint that the Bristol act aren't immune to the saccharine pleasures of New Wave.

Ave Teth are a fascinating band that I stumbled upon while visiting Auckland back in 2018, and a good indication of the diversity in the scene over in New Zealand. Their four-song EP a riven Pap of Summer doesn't hide the influence of a certain M. Gira, and the band's austere rhythms (along with the vocalist's baritone croak) recall Swans at their most punishing.

Crime Scene is a collaboration between Poison Idea vocalist Jerry A. Lang and Pieter Coolen of Belgian thrashers Toxic Shock. Their debut EP Dark Tidings delivers 5 mid-paced, mid-Eighties thrash anthems, with Jerry sounding like he would have been right at home with the heshers if he decided to leave the mohawks behind.