Friday, August 4, 2023

Bandcamp Friday Picks [August 2023]

Bandcamp Fridays are back after a two month hiatus, so here are some recent releases that you should support with some $$$. The platform is waiving its fees for all purchases made today, so there's no better time to hand some independant artists and labels your cash.

It was with trepidation, and not excitement, that I approached the new GODFLESH album; having created the template for industrial death metal with their first album, and then anticipated doomgaze and post-metal with their next two, everything the band has released since couldn't help but disappoint. So with no small amount of relief, I can confirm that their new album does NOT suck. As with everything else the band has done since Songs of Love and Hate, Purge smashes hip hop beats together with Justin Broadrick's endlessly looping guitar and G. C. Green's savage bass mangling. Anyone hoping for a return to the sledgehammer heaviness of Streetcleaner will come away underwhelmed; but if, like me, you've come to appreciate the minimalist beauty of later Godflesh, dive on in.

There would be no Godflesh without SWANS, so it's fitting that the two pioneering acts released new albums within a few weeks of each other (and underscores how eerily similar the careers of their respective founders has been). Jettisoning most of the collaborators who've been a part of the band's 2010 rebirth (including longtime guitarist Norman Westberg and drummer Thor Harris), The Beggar sees Michael Gira once again reinventing Swans' sound - this time substituting the sensory overload of their most recent albums for an austere "kraut-rock-meets post-punk" minimalism, adding a healthy dollop of Sixties psychedelic folk to the song's dogged repetition. The album has an oddly uplifting qulity that's at odds with the band's legacy as the nastest band to emerge from NY's "no wave" scene; but Gira's dispiriting lyrics will undoubtedly assuage any fears that Swans is going soft.

Don't expect much in the way of slow riffs from the misleadingly named Italian group Sludge Keeper. Their debut Slough Of Despair is the sort of blastbeat-driven affair that you'd expect to emerge from Poland or Brazil; and even when the BPMs are restrained, drummer Kévin Paradis (also in Benighted) works his kick drum like it owes him money. Bands like this are the reason this blog exists.

For anyone who finds my prediction of an imminent Nineties revival to be dubious, I submit the debut full-length by Ohio's MUTUAL HOSTILITY. The chunky chord progressions on Inhuman Anguish are reminiscent of Skinless during their pit-baiting early years, with each lead an invocation to The Ancient Ones.

THRA brings this aging hesher happy memories of an era when genre wasn't dogma. The Phoenix band's first full-length Forged In Chaotic Spew is an aggro and mid-paced blend of sludge, grind, black metal and Godflesh levels of rhythmic austerity.

A collaboration from a couple Swedish death metal OGs (specifically, Mega Slaughter's Jens Johansson on vocals, and Rogga Johansson - in too many bands to mention - on guitar) TO DESCEND is a throwback to the genre's Nineties heyday. the vocals on Mindless Birth in particular are a throwback to a deep-throated style that I rarely hear any more. Musically, the band turns in a no-frills European death metal akin to early Benediction and Pungent Stench.

Arizona's NUCLEAR REMAINS. Neatly coinciding with the release of Christopher Nolan's Oscar shoo-in Oppenheimer, the Arizona band's first full-length Dawn Of Eternal Suffering makes a brutal slamfest out of our post-apocalyptic future, accompanied by a snare sound that pings through the murky mix like sonar.

Mumbai's Gutslit are helping the overlooked Indian scene get recognition from the wider metal world. Their third album Carnal is an enjoyable platter of brutal death with plenty of slam parts to get the pit moving, and kicked to the next level by a sparkling production courtesy of guitarist (and Book of Boba Fett music contributor) Prateek Rajagopal.

You can't fault LYCANTHROPHY's productivity; the Czech legends may only have released three long-players in the last quarter century, but they've been on more splits than you have fingers and toes. Their third full-lengthnOn The Verge Of Apocalypse is true to grindcore's crusty, ADHD-addled origins, and shows why the band is so highly regarded in that scene.

New Jersey's Organ Dealer exist to blast. Their unrelenting second album The Weight Of Being is no-nonsense grind that makes good use of multiple vocal styles, and squealing whammy bar solos that adding a classic thrash feel to the mayhem.

Portland's Dripping Decay an old school sound, albeit as tight and precise as any modern metal band. Their first album Festering Grotesqueries makes deathgrind as disgusting as the gorefathers Carlson, Reifert, and Steer intended; - no surprise, since the band features members of Lord Gore (seminal filthmongers in their own right). 

Phantom Corporation was formed by veterans of the German death metal scene (including members of Dew-Scented and Obscenity) to indulge in their love of crusty hardcore. Their debut album Fallout would fit easily on the Distortion Records roster alongside Wolfpack and Skitsystem, and proves that the membrane between old school death metal and old school hardcore was never that thick.

Let it never be said that "True Norwegian Black Metal" is dead while Tsjuder is still around. The Oslo band's sixth unholy album Helvegr lives up to the band's vow of "No synthesizers, no wimpy vocals" - this album is as trve a collection of frigid riffs and skullfucking drums as has emerged since the band formed three decades ago. Rumour is that multiple spins of this album will cause stave churches around the world to spontaneously combust; I'm willing to do my part.

Texans Necrofier, on the other hand, aren't interested in abiding by anyone else's dogma about what black metal should be. Their sophomore album Burning Shadows in the Southern Night combines icy melodies with heavy metal bluster, returning the style to its raucous pre-Euronymous origins.

The Iron Age of Kali Yuga sees two NYBM up and comers joining forces to represent. Long Island's Teloch Vovin kick the split off with their unpredictable tempo shifts and atmospheric interludes. Viserion from Queens close things out with three epic mid-paced bangers.

MIZMOR is synonymous with extreme doom - so much so that there is actually another group playing basically the same music using basically the same name. Maybe in an attempt to avoid this confusion, the PNW project's third album Prosaic pushes further into atmospheric black metal territory, maintaining the mammoth running times of their previous releases whilst shifting the tempos dramatically. It's the audio equivalent of The Great Molasses Flood.

The roots of Wooden Veins may be Chilean, but their hearts are decidedly Scandinavian. Their second album Imploding Waves channels the best eras of In The Woods..., October Tide, and Opeth to create a sombre and atmospheric style of progressive metal.

OBJECT AS SUBJECT is the brainchild of Paris Hurley (formerly of gypsy punks Kultur Shock). The project's second offering Heretic sees the classically trained violinist (and her two collaborators) exploring her darker sensibilities as the album shapeshifts through various iterations of post-punk, goth, and neo-folk.