Thursday, February 1, 2024

Bandcamp Friday Picks [Feb 2024]

The first Bandcamp Friday of 2024 is just a few weeks from Valentine's let's show some love to independent labels and musicians. Here are some recent and upcoming releases to choo-choo-choose from.

New York's HYPOXIA have been quietly building up a name for themselves with solid releases and entertaining live shows. Their third album Defiance adds slam parts and Floridian riffs to their death/thrash base, recalling death metal's classic era without falling into the worship/revival trap.

I'm a big booster for Portland deathgrinders Dripping Decay, and so seeing their latest EP show up in my inbox was a bright spot for the beginning of the year. The six song Ripping Remains EP continues where their full-length debut left off - a gorey lovefest between early Carcass and Repulsion.

Vegan outrage meets gore-obsessesion on the debut EP by French grinders CORPSEVORE. Despite the Carcass-like themes, Feed The Plague falls in with the HM-2 sound of modern grinders, with a preference for Repulsion/Terrorizer-style moshers.

GORE MACHINE is a solo project from "Druesome"/"Date Rape Drew", who plays guitar in several Erie, PA death metal bands. Macerated & Liquified is 10 tracks of guttural, sample-heavy, drum machine-fuelled mayhem that lends credence to the idea that Will Rahmer may actually have been a genius and ahead of his time.

Spare a thought for Job for a Cowboy - survivors of the Myspace Metal era who outlived the platform that brought them to the world, but not the disdain that era elicited. Has the decade that passed since they released their last album been enough for people to forget "deathcore" and all the silly haircuts that went along with it? Probably not, but the band should be given credit for consistently (and capably) pushing their songwriting and musicianship. Moon Healer is a thoroughly enjoyable modern death metal album: Progressive with an emphasis on umpredictable song structures, and a surprising indifference for the pit monkeys who are just waiting for the breakdown to drop.

Guitarist Hal Microutsicos of the long running NJ/PA blackened death metal band Blasphemous struck out on his own in Engulf. The first full-length after a number of EPs, The Dying Planet Weeps is a strong release that adds extra dissonance and proggy rhythms to separate the project from the many Morbid Angel/Hate Eternal clones.

Formed by veterans of Quebec's esteemed tech death scene, Dissimulator are set to add to that legacy with their stellar debut. Progressive death metal meets early thrash exhuberance on Lower Form Resistance, a throwback to an era when bands were lauded for challenging a genre's limitations instead of blindly heeding them.

Get out your ponchos, the costumed maniaxe known as Ghoul are back with a new EP. Noxious Concoctions features four toe-tapping, upbeat originals in the band's distinctive thrashy style, as well as a cover of cult (but not KVLT) punk/metal act Funerot.

Referring to their punk-influenced black metal as “Alfapocalyptic Rock”, Sweden's Alfahanne have issued their second full-length after a decade-long hiatus. Vår tid är nu marries raw black metal riffs to post-punk beats, finding a mid-point between kvlt and .

Meanwhile, Madrid's Svdestada approach the punk/black car crash from the opposite direction (not to mention the other end of the continent). Their third album Candela spices up dark crust/screamo with trem picking, blastbeats, and melodic death metal riffs. [Name your price.]

Hulder is a solo project that's based in the Pacific Northwest but has its heart very much in Nineties European black metal. The second album Verses In Oath is the kind of keyboard-assisted medieval black metal that defined the early Satyricon albums - not to mention several D&D campaigns.

Obsidian Tongue have released three albums since they formed in 2009. Their latest release is the three song EP The Stone Heart, which demonstrates how adept the Portland ME band is at crafting epic black metal compositions which aren't boring.

The Swiss project Far Beyond lives up to its name by exceeding expectations of what a one man metal project can accomplish. THE END OF MY ROAD is a work of exceptional ambition: A symphonic black metal album that could easily double as a film score.

Since expandig from a solo project to a collective with a frequently changing roster, Chicago's meth. have shown their unwillingness to be constrained to a single genre/scene. Their second album SHAME leaves behind most of the spazzy mathcore that characterized their early releases, focusing instead on a sludgy, abrasive sound that picks up where the last Daughters release left off.

Tyrannus and Magicide team up on the bobby-alarming split Tory Punching Music. "Bricks & Flesh" is an infectious slice of punky black thrash that will give you whiplash. Magicide's breakbeat-infused deathgrind will surely infuriate metal's reactionary wing... but that's essentially the point of this split.

If, like Patrick Bateman, you prefer an artist's eighties pop songs to their progressive early work, North Sea Echoes might be up your alley. The project was formed by Ray Alder and Jim Matheos of progressive metal pioneers Fates Warning, but their debut Really Good Terrible Things has more in common with later Pink Floyd and post-Genesis Phil Collins. Paging Michael Mann.

Kill The Thrill will put your high school French to good use. On Autophagie, the Parisian duo update the primal rhythms and austere guitar lines of Swans with lush keyboard accompaniment.

Oakland duo Yama Uba (formed by members of the post-punk band Ötzi) are part of a goth rock/post-punk/new wave revival that only seems to be growing in its neon exhuberance. Silhouettes is a perfect throwback album, with driving electronic beats and layers of synths complimenting Akiko Sampson's plaintive singing and .

For anyone who didn't hear my interview with Shane Embury from last year, the grind legend has spent the last year focused on his ambient/experimental project Dark Sky Burial. Tantum Religio Potuit Suadere Malorum is his latest release under that name, and it allows him to fully indulge in the atmospheric end of underground music through ambient synthscapes.

Droneuary is an annual tradition for Silber Records, which assembles contributions from a variety of artists who work in the drone, ambient, and experimental realms. The 2024 installment has over seven hours worth of music that spans from peaceful to unsettling. [Name your price.]